Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed an explosion in the adoption of video communication software by companies worldwide. Without a doubt, the ongoing pandemic and shifts to more flexible work models were the catalyst in this massive usage of video communication software.
Video offers the best approximation of “in person interaction” due to its richness and high level of fidelity across visual and audio dimensions. Since humans are social creatures, we gravitate towards video because it provides the best social interaction in a digitally connected world.
This post will explore the different ways in which remote-first teams use video and open up on the challenges that this accelerated adoption of video is creating in the workplace.
Broadly speaking, a remote-first company is one where the default mode of working is remote. This means that employees work from home or other remote locations most of the time. This does not preclude the company from renting office space, where team members may occasionally meet, but this is not the default mode of operating.
The default communication style for remote-first companies is asynchronous, since team members may be working from different time zones and are available at different hours. This is different from remote-friendly companies, which allow remote work but expect the majority of staff to be physically working from the same office. The diagram below presents the main differences between these two work models.
Since team members are not physically collocated by default in a remote-first setup, face-to-face communication is not possible most of the time.
This is why video is essential. Video not only enables team members to communicate, but it enables them to simulate presence since team members can see each other on the screen.
A16Z defines presence as the intuitive awareness of teammates’s activity and availability in real time.
While video is not a perfect substitute for in person communication, it is a very good alternative that can provide superior benefits in many cases.
Firstly, all video calls of team meetings and customer conversations can be recorded, enabling companies to retain organisational knowledge in those video files. Secondly, companies can communicate through video either synchronously (team meetings with multiple attendees) or asynchronous (through tools like Loom for teams that are distributed across different time zones). This gives them extra flexibility in how information is exchanged and affords team members more opportunities to focus on their respective tasks without interruption.
Nowadays, company knowledge is shifting from text documents to video recordings due to the rapid adoption of remote-first work models that are powered by video communication software. For instance, key decisions taken during video team meetings (e.g. design/engineering reviews) are now recorded in video files as soon as the meeting ends. Moreover, critical insights from videos of user interviews conducted by UX researchers or product managers are now also contained in video recordings. While theoretically this should make teams more knowledgeable, it is currently not the case because of the lack of tools to help extract the spoken knowledge in videos.
Presently, user researchers and product managers must watch whole videos (45+ minutes) of user interviews to identify timestamps of key moments and sound bites from these recordings. This is already a very time consuming task, and with the accumulation of recorded videos the problem will compound. Knowledge will remain buried in videos and remote-first companies will miss out on the opportunity to harness this knowledge to become more productive organisations that could cohesively deliver better products or services to their customers.
This is why we are building EnVsion: the video productivity platform for remote-first teams. EnVsion enables teams in remote first companies to become more productive and aligned by helping them unlock the spoken knowledge in their video recordings of user interviews and team meetings. Through our flagship product EnVsion Studio, videos are automatically transcribed and made searchable. Moreover, key moments in videos can be easily saved away as bookmarks that can be shared internally with team members or external collaborators to improve alignment.
We believe this workflow with video at the core should be the new, better way of working for remote-first companies. And we strongly believe in this future because we envision (see the pun) a world in which video shifts from solely being a communication stream to becoming the primary medium for knowledge gathering, sharing, and collaboration in remote-first companies.
If you would like to learn more about what we are building, then feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to try EnVsion.