With remote work on the rise, the issue of creating the same deep relationships in a team virtually compared to being in the office is becoming more and and more challenging. Jessica Baird and her team at Remote Social have created a product to encourage social moments between teams through a series of virtual games and hosted experiences well suited for remote and hybrid teams. Hope you enjoy the episode!
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Creating strong relationships remotely
Using video conferencing effectively
Tips for onboarding
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But it’s really, really important that remote and hybrid teams get accustomed to that asynchronous way of communicating. And we’re really leaning into that in remote search, providing ways for people to be able to do that. And that for us is going to be a strategy that we’re doubling down on to make it more and more possible for people to be able to create those important bonds and special moments, even if they’re not online.
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At the same time.
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Welcome, Jessica, to an episode of the Remote Tech People podcast. Thanks for your time today.
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Thanks so much for having me, James.
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Jess, I know from Remote Social actually an investor in remote social early days really excited about the product. And also one of the problems that it can fix there, the current space where we’re living in a hybrid or remote workspace. But for those that don’t know who remote searches are, don’t know your background. Just could you give us a bit of an overview?
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Absolutely. So we’re an early stage startup based in Sydney with three co-founders, and we’re on a mission to solve the issue of building really strong coaches in remote and hybrid organization. It’s one of the most difficult things about working remotely is how do you build up the same sense of deep loyalty to an organization, the same sorts of deep relationships within a team and within an organization when you don’t stick together every day.
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So that’s the problem that remote social is looking to solve. Our first foray into that, into the product that we feel has been around solving for those special social moments. And we’ve got a bunch of games live on the platform as well as a whole range past experiences that are well-suited to virtual delivery for remote and hybrid teams.
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With companies that are looking out to tools like remote social. Are you finding it? They’re doing it reactively because, hey, they’re seeing an issue or cultural issue arise within their organization? Or is it more of a proactive approach?
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I think there’s everything on the spectrum, James, from people who are very reactive to people who are much more deliberate and intentional about it. We think it starts from, you know, best practice, from everything, from how you think about how you budget for culture within a remote and hybrid organization. We don’t think it should be allocating sort of ad hoc, but rather you should be thinking 6 to 12 months in advance about how you funding your cultural needs within the organization and allowing team leads or if you have a head of remote or ahead of h.r.
00:02:33:11 – 00:02:54:03
Allowing them the budget and the freedom to be able to be very intentional and creative about the ways in which they do that. I think what we are certainly seeing is that teams that are more intentional about it are getting better roi on their culture spends and it’s inevitably leading to much stronger engagement and better programing within these organizations.
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Yeah, I think I think one of the common the common challenges people are saying they miss is that the water cooler chat and not being in the office or having some people in the office and some people not. The challenge for those that are remote meeting, that work watercooler chat is a very real thing.
00:03:12:21 – 00:03:39:13
Yeah, and I think that goes back to goes back to context. It’s like part of working in an office is saying people and kind of you learn about them through osmosis, you learn about their family, you learn about their pets, you learn about the things that interest them, what they did on the weekend. And it’s a really big transition to sharing those sorts of things in a natural way, in a virtual environment.
00:03:39:22 – 00:04:14:18
And so one of the things that we’re doing with remote social is promote social connect that I mentioned before that delivers the ability for people to be able to do that in a more organic way without one person necessarily having to constantly lead the conversation around watercooler that sort of support some of those conversations within teams. And I think when we think about the virtual environment, I think we’re all upskilling into what it means to get really comfortable with sharing in a meaningful way without it feeling transactional in a in a digital and virtual environment.
00:04:14:24 – 00:04:49:20
Because historically we’ve been so accustomed to doing that in the office if we haven’t worked in a remote or hybrid team. So I think it’s super important for managers to, as I said before, be really intentional about it and make sure that you create space for people to do that. Because I think the more we flex that muscle of sharing, whether it be over slack or whether it be over a video call, the more we get used to that being an important way that we share and not just going into these conversations with the idea of like, I’ve got to get this piece of work done, but really understanding the validity of creating space for
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people to have those conversations that are going to enable them to build up those less formal, less project based but really, really important bonds.
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How do you guys have remote, social or you individually think about video Zoom fatigue and where does that fit within the greater communication?
00:05:07:23 – 00:05:29:14
Yeah, well, I think that so I think yes, well, I think that first of all, zoom and video conferencing, I mean, where would we be without is is sort of the first thing, I think. But I absolutely agree that, too much time on video calls is completely draining. And I think the fatigue that comes with that is very, very real.
00:05:30:00 – 00:05:51:11
I also think that people have to be deliberate about the way they use video conferencing meetings. I don’t know that there’s necessarily a requirement to be on a video call for 45 minutes where maybe a picking up a tweet, picking up the phone or jumping on a Slack message is a much more efficient way to get to where you’re wanting to go.
00:05:51:11 – 00:06:21:02
And I think with asynchronous communication, that’s really I think increasingly knowledge is being a crucial part of the tool kit for remote and hybrid teams because it doesn’t require you to be online. At the same time, it does require you to be disciplined in the way that you use those tools. So it’s not just constant back and forth, and it does require you to be quite disciplined in the way that you document the work that you’re doing so that you can hand over to people who may not be online at the same time.
00:06:21:11 – 00:06:47:01
But it’s really, really important that remote and hybrid change get accustomed to that asynchronous way of communicating. And we’re really leaning into that in remote virtual, providing ways for people to be able to do that. And that for us is going to be a strategy that we’re doubling down on to make it more and more possible for people to be able to create those important bonds and special moments, even if they’re not online.
00:06:47:01 – 00:06:48:00
At the same time.
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I feel like I’m being a negative of sharing challenges that you are around. There is from remote space. I’m definitely pri remote, but another one of those challenges I think a lot of organizations have faced is the onboarding process and companies, again, retrospectively trying to figure that out. What does onboarding look like done remotely? Have you seen any companies do that extremely well?
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Any tips that you would give organizations to on board? I feel like it feels it fits into the culture piece really strongly. How do you on board people get them introduced to people? How do you get them to understand the organization, the culture, etc.? Have you seen or have got any examples of companies that have done that Well?
00:07:26:15 – 00:08:11:07
Yeah, I think it I mean, I think you can’t rely, obviously on the practices that you would have in an office environment. And certainly I think to your point about onboarding being a crucial part of culture is we’re now seeing a whole generation of of employees or rather a whole sort of life cycle of the employees who have been onboarded in the last 18 months and in many cases have never met any of their colleagues and are now moving on to the next opportunity, which means that you have had a whole kind of employee lifecycle where they haven’t really had any tangible touchpoints in sort of human to human contact with other people within the
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organization. So if you think about how intentional you have to be in order to be able to really drive connection and loyalty with people who have never met anyone in your team, I think that kind of gives you an insight into how important it is to be very deliberate about the onboarding process, promote social way. You know, it’s very important for us to live by the problem that we’re trying to solve.
00:08:34:21 – 00:08:56:23
So we’re a hybrid organization. We have very, very flexible work place practices. We have a team member offshore. We have two team members that don’t live in Sydney. We have some team members that live in Sydney. And really I think the most important thing is to, as I said before, be intentional. And for us that’s about living by the problem that we’re trying to solve.
00:08:56:23 – 00:09:16:11
If we can’t do it for ourselves, I don’t think we could hope to work to solve that problem for our customers. And so I think it’s about for any team and any team manager to really think about the environment that they want to create and how they’re going to get the best out of and for their team members.
00:09:16:17 – 00:09:34:14
So I would say that that’s kind of that’s table stakes and and for us, we’ve done that since day one because all three of us had had the experience of living and working in remote environments. So when you that that was very much going to be part of our ethos from day one.
00:09:34:15 – 00:09:47:20
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from you today is that we’re intentional and companies being intentional about the way they are tackling remote or remote hybrid approaches, I feel like that’s the biggest takeaway for me individually. So I really appreciate your time.
00:09:47:24 – 00:10:07:01
Well, I hope I haven’t been too much like a broken record on the use of that word, but I do think it’s at the heart of of building strong teams as we move forward is it doesn’t happen by accident. We have to really think through how we’re going to build these strong teams and and support the future of work that I think we’re all leaning into.
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Appreciate your time today.
00:10:09:07 – 00:10:12:20
Thanks, James. Really appreciate it.