1-click to join Zoom/Meet and open documents linked in your meeting

A couple weeks ago, the launch of the YC company SuperPowered caused a stir: "$10 a month for a calendar widget.. ?” “Has YC lost its way…?”

True, from the website it looks like not much more than a button to launch a Zoom meeting from your calendar, but it’s still easier than finding the calendar tab in your browser, finding the meeting, and launching from there. Making that process less cumbersome can have an outsized effect on how it feels to work remotely.

Remember when you would see people walking into a meeting room and you would get up to join them? How do we make it that easy?

When I saw this post on Hacker News, I wondered how easy it would be to build something like that. We already had a popular Google Calendar integration that updates users’ statuses when they are in meetings to help their teammates know when is a good time to chat. The data that we were getting from Google already included the information we needed (zoom links), so all we really needed to do was match the URLs with a regex, send that structured data to our macOS client and render a button.

Without going into too much detail about the Google Calendar API, we identified 3 fields that might have videoconferencing information from the events response: conferenceData, description, and location. Here’s an example request pruned down to the properties we care about:

Since we know our customers also use Google Meet, and it wasn’t much more work, I decided to scrape that data as well. I used regex matching to find Zoom and Meet links in the location and description text fields, then if we didn’t find anything there, we would look in the structured conference data. After that, the conferencing URI and a string enum to identify the platform (Zoom or Meet) becomes part of the event data which we send to our macOS client. If a calendar event has video conferencing details, we render a button to help you join that meeting.

The button will show up 5 minutes before your meeting starts. Once I had an internal build that the team could use, it was not long before someone asked if we could also have buttons to open documents linked in calendar events, so I extended the feature to scrape links for Notion, Paper, and Drive docs.

If you’re interested in trying this for yourself or with your team, simply download Remotion. It’s free! This was a fun hack project and I’m hoping it makes remote work a little easier. Please reach out to me (harriet@remotion.com) if you have any feedback or suggestions.

The case for virtual coworking: build a connected remote culture.

Regularly coworking with your hybrid or remote team can help you build the social cohesion that makes work feel less like work.

Here are the biggest reasons we think coworking is an effective way to create a close-knit remote culture:

1. It fosters casual conversations.

Building a connected remote culture is all about fostering 1:1 or small group organic conversations. Virtual coworking makes space for those conversations. When you spend time together outside of agenda-driven meetings, spontaneous chats naturally occur, as they would in an office.

2. It's more inclusive than scheduled social events.

It can be draining for introverts to have to participate in scheduled, purely social conversations. Coworking allows the team to spend time together and occasionally chat without having to constantly be "on," making it more inclusive for introverts and extroverts alike.

3. It's easy to say yes to.

Purely social events are important, but if your team is busy or on a tight deadline, it's tough to find the time for social chats without it feeling like an obligation. Coworking is much easier to get your team onboard with because it doesn't take time away from getting work done.

4. It improves remote collaboration.

Coworking can lead to unblocking and shorter feedback loops. Quick questions get answered easily and in the moment, without a having to schedule a meeting or go back-and-forth in messages.

5. It's scalable.

Coworking works for teams of all sizes and is a great way to scale your remote culture as your team grows. It's helpful to create opportunities for teammates from different functions to get to know one another.

6. It creates shared momentum.

The feeling of togetherness is motivating!

Get started with virtual coworking: choose the type most aligned with your priorities.

It takes intentionality to make virtual coworking feel natural and energizing enough to stick—it's not as simple as leaving a Zoom call open all day.

Here are a few of the ways we've set coworking up for our team. We recommend choosing one to start with. If it works, make it routine and experiment with other types from there.

Best practices for virtual coworking.

Keep group sizes small.

Limit your coworking sessions to 4-6 people to keep things from getting distracting and help make introverted teammates comfortable chatting.

Signal boost coworking.

Set a norm of letting the entire team know when you're hopping into a coworking room or session.

Make it routine.

Once you've figured out what kind of coworking works for your team, make it a regular, opt-in event. Set up a recurring calendar event to do it at the same time each week to maximize the impact.

Set expectations ahead of time.

When you're first introducing coworking to your team, share what you're imagining in your calendar invite and at the top of each session to get everyone on the same page. For example:

Let's try virtual coworking! We'll work independently on our own projects with our cameras off, but we'll share space and listen to music together — like we might work side-by-side at the office.

Listen to music together.

Play music while you work to create a shared environment and add a little bit of personality to your coworking session.

Set up Coworking Rooms in Remotion.

Most of the above is doable with any video chat app, but much easier with Remotion—which we designed with a lightweight, smooth coworking experience in mind. Easily set up Remotion rooms that your teammates can hop into for different styles of coworking.

We'd love to hear how coworking goes for you, or what practices you've found helpful on your team — let us know @remotionco on Twitter.

Want to try coworking in Remotion, our virtual office? Get free access today.