Remotion 2.0: Why We're Building For Hybrid

We're building Remotion for people who like spending time with people.

When Charley and I founded Remotion the year before covid, leaders told us to hold off for a year or two before becoming remote. They said it was incompatible with our personalities: Charley will talk your ear off about any topic, and I obsess over morning rituals like shaking everyone's hand in the morning. How would that work?

Morning rituals in Remotion: Sending 👋 emoji badges.

Instead, we jumped right in. It was simple: A/ Charley had to move, and B/ we wanted to work together. Generalizing, these are...

The two reasons for remote or hybrid work: Flexibility & diversity

We've all seen the studies showing the majority of companies choosing to embrace remote and hybrid work after covid. Why?

  1. Flexibility: Living and working on your own terms is great for employee lives and productivity. The world has changed, and the best talent demands it. Remotion's raison d'etre.
  2. Diversity: The best teams are diverse, and it's much easier to build a diverse team when you can provide that flexibility and hire outside a 50-mile radius.

Choosing to be fully in-person means missing out on talent and building a less diverse team. So we can see that the two options for most teams of knowledge workers in 2022 are: Fully-distributed and remote, or hybrid.

Remotion survey data from May 2021 on teams transitioning to hybrid work models.

Most teams want to reopen offices while also supporting remote

The refrain we're hearing is that offices are for the fuzzier benefits. We hear things like:

Strong culture needs strong relationships, and those are built between meetings, not in them.

There's a spark when we work in-person. Teammates naturally become friends.

Offices are great at fostering relationships, but some demographic groups want to go to offices more than others, and fully remote teammates don't have the option. If hybrid work isn't done right, remote teammates can suffer from damaged productivity and career prospects.

Teams reopening offices need to include remote teammates.

Many teams that are looking at centrally determined in-office days to prevent a drift from some employees working from the office more frequently than others. But this sacrifices many of the best benefits of remote work.

We're hopeful teams can do better. As a general principle, maintaining a remote-first approach to hybrid teamwork can help avoid those pitfalls. Let's unbundle it:

  • Work communication greatly benefits from remote-first practices, such as documentation and biasing towards async.
  • Meetings are a slight mess when run hybrid, but switching them to remote-first by having everyone call in from different rooms is the inclusive move that solves AV problems.
  • Social connection is the toughest aspect—that's why teams want to reopen offices. By definition, how can remote teammates be included?

Enter Remotion: a lightweight virtual office for both in-office and remote teammates

Remotion levels the playing field for two key aspects of the office:

  1. Feeling the presence of your team:

In an office, you notice your teammates even when you're not looking. With Remotion, you get the same ambient awareness a glance away, because your team has a permanent home on your screen:

It's easier to appreciate a hybrid team member as a whole person when you see a face and a smile rather than a green dot. With Remotion, we bring your hybrid-remote team to life as live selfies:

  1. Making room for conversations and rituals outside of work

🎵 Music rooms for chatting, coworking or collaborating

🎉 Emoji badges that plant the seeds for cultural rituals

🤙 Quick calls that make dropping by feel natural

Hybrid work is an opportunity to build more equitable, higher-performing teams

If we're successful together, teams like yours can embrace hybrid work models that champion people-first culture and flexibility over ties to physical location. And ten years from now we'll be contributing to an economy that is more inclusive, equitable, and innovative.

Let's work together

If you're interested in investing in a people-first culture on your team, and looking for how to navigate the transition to hybrid work, let's chat. You can get free access to Remotion at remotion.com, and I'd love to hear what you think at alexander at remotion dot com.

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.