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How Remotion Helped Breeze Scale its Engineering Culture

Culture is huge at Breeze. Leaders at the church management software company say that nurturing strong relationships among team members is a central focus. "At Breeze, it's really important to us that we feel like we know each other," says Rick Destree, Engineering Manager. The team culture is close-knit and collaborative, with a camaraderie fueled by their shared mission.

Since Breeze has always been a remote and distributed team, they felt confident moving into the pandemic that they would be able to maintain a strong culture. The unforeseen challenge was scaling that culture remotely, especially in a world where they could no longer rely on their twice-annual in-person retreats to cultivate connection.

As the engineering team grew from four to twelve and became increasingly specialized, silos began to develop. All-team Zoom calls and Slack channels began to feel less organic and more formal. The team needed a way to stay connected and bring back the open-door, everyone-in-it-together, collaborative feel. That's where Remotion comes in.

Making room for coworking and open communication with Remotion

Rick and the other engineering managers turned to Remotion for a lightweight solution that lowers the barrier to collaboration for the team. The team will call each other or use Remotion rooms to cowork and chat about projects.

“We jumped in and immediately loved Remotion. It's the closest thing I’ve experienced to working like we're all in a real physical office together,” Rick says. “Two people can just say, ‘Hey, I'm having a problem with this. I know you’ve fixed this before. Can I ask you a question?’ and then use a Remotion room and work together to solve it.”

Team leads also took the opportunity to lead by example and set the tone for the open-door culture they want to create. They each spend a few hours of their day in their team's Remotion rooms — making themselves visibly available to answer questions and unblock their team.

Teammates consistently pair program in Remotion calls too. "People will hit up Slack and ask if anyone can pair with them. It's a lot less awkward than opening a Zoom. We'll do code reviews with 8 or 9 people on Remotion too — it helps with open communication," says Christian Helvin, another Engineering Manager at Breeze.

Connecting socially with "culture-building fun, not distracting fun"

Remotion makes it easier to quickly discuss work, but it also creates space for casual chats that make the team feel more connected socially — like a 5-minute call to ask about someone's weekend. These moments naturally occur on a small team but start to feel awkward as you grow. With Remotion, the Breeze team has noticed a huge uptick in these types of connections. "More people are chatting, and there's a lot more impromptu conversation," says Rick.

Breeze also has a watercooler room dedicated explicitly to coworking and casual non-work chats. The watercooler lets people share space while they work on individual projects, and helps the team feel more like a team.

The team gravitated towards fun features like emoji sending and the daily selfie — which Rick called "culture-building fun, not distracting fun." Everyone takes a selfie in the morning, and teammates send emoji kudos and hellos throughout the day.

A sense of place and presence without the distraction (or performance issues!)

Remotion isn't the first virtual office the Breeze team has tried, but it is the first one that's stuck. That's because Remotion's dock makes your teammates the most important thing on your desktop — and is lightweight enough to keep on all day without distracting you or slowing down your machine.

“The fact that we’re able to have Remotion on all the time makes a huge difference. It has a pretty light footprint on our machines, which is awesome. It's so simple and yet it does a great job creating a feeling of place online,” Rick says.

"We're using 3-4% of our CPU when we're actually on video calls. On the performance end, it's working phenomenally," says Christian. "Screensharing is the cleanest I've ever seen on any video call platform. We are so blown away by the quality of this app."

Scaling a culture of connection

Since its founding, the Breeze team has always put their people first. They believe that great culture is the product of giving your team the space to naturally connect, and leading by example to set the right norms. Remotion gives them a natural way to do both those things as their team grows—and creates a remote workplace where everyone is excited to show up every day.

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.