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How Magical Integrates New Hires Remotely With Remotion

Kate Chen joined Magical in January 2021 because she loved the team. She had a job offer from Facebook on the table, but chose Magical because she felt confident that their strong culture would turn her isolating experiences of remote work on their head.

"When I started at Magical, my concerns about remote work were alleviated because of how great the team culture is here. That's in part because of how friendly the people are and also, how helpful Remotion has been in connecting with them."

Magical Team in the Remotion Dock
The Magical team in the Remotion dock on the edge of Kate's desktop

The team at Magical is building a chrome extension that expands shortcuts as you type (check it out and install to save yourself some time here). They're a remote and distributed team, experimenting with hybrid work models and coworking spaces. They've taken care to foster a casual social culture that encourages the team to get to know one another as people.

Kate joined the Magical team as a recent grad in the middle of the pandemic—an intimidating time to take on a new job, onboarding, and meeting coworkers. Remotion made it easier for her to smoothly integrate with the Magical team and feel connected to her teammates as humans, not just coworkers. Here's how.

Casual 1:1 conversations outside of scheduled meetings.

"It's a lot easier to have personal conversations in Remotion without feeling like you're intruding on a professional workspace," says Kate.

When she joined Magical, Kate immediately gravitated towards quick, casual 1:1 social chats in Remotion—the type of interactions you might have in the hallway between meetings at the office.

On previous remote teams, she struggled with the formality of needing to schedule meetings for every conversation. She finds using Remotion a lot more approachable and will often give teammates a quick video call when she's feeling lonely or just wondering how they're doing. It’s helped her build close relationships with her teammates remotely.

Remotion makes space for daily non-work conversations that foster a remote culture at Magical where everyone (even new hires!) feels comfortable connecting socially.

Collaboration and coworking that feel energizing.

As a Growth Engineer at Magical, Kate regularly interacts with most members of the 10-person team. Her role is a combination of product, engineering, and marketing. Remotion immediately helped her collaborate more seamlessly with her teammates and succeed in her cross-functional role.

Kate often pair programs with other engineers on her team in Remotion, sometimes spending the entire day in a call, screen sharing code. It's easy to naturally loop the relevant people into calls for a few minutes to chime in. Having the call in her dock or in a transparent floating window makes them feel more energizing than spending the entire day with a Zoom window open.

In other cases, she'll call her mentor Alex to ask a quick question and then they'll end up quietly coworking together for hours afterward. The lightweight Remotion calls give Kate a sense of "ambient presence" without any awkwardness or having to feel always on. It's nice to have company, even if they only pipe up to comment or chat every once in a while.

A dash of fun to make the team more approachable.

When Kate first joined the team, she hadn't met everyone yet. She says it helped that her first point of connection with new-to-her teammates was seeing their fun selfies in the Remotion dock on day one—before meeting them in a more formal, agenda-driven context.

Seeing her teammate's show off their personalities helped her feel at ease in showing up as her whole self for work, and made her feel more comfortable in having non-work conversations.

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.

Cowork like
everyone's together.