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How Close.io uses Snap-Chat to improve company culture

Building a culture is hard. Building culture while having remote workers is even harder. Or that was my first impulse.

Søren Vasø Hansen

Søren Vasø Hansen

But then I heard Steli Efti talk about experiments on his Podcast “The Startup Chat.” He and his co-host Hiten Shah talks about how and what you should experiment on as a company.

This topic is interesting in itself, but it’s one particular experiment I really wanna dissect:

Why Close.io started to use Snap-chat

Founder, Steli Efti says on the podcast about this:

“We use chat, email, skype, and other stuff, but we realized there is a lot of fun around in the psychical space, that we don’t get to our remote team.”

Note Close.io has its headquarter in San Francisco, but the majority of employees is spread out across the world.

Steli continuous:

“The banter, fun, joking. The sense of how the other person is and what their lifes look like. We can’t replicate that in chat, email and Skype calls. It’s just not touching the social aspects of working together. So we started experimenting with snap-chat internally.”

I find this interesting because I reckon, most teams that are in the same office, don’t have specific tools or structures that are placed there to connect people.

It’s taken for granted that we talk together.

That we share insight on our lives, both in work and personally. But the social glue that binds people and teams are not a given just because you put people in the same building.

So, remote teams actually have an advantage over none-remote teams, because they are forced to think about this.

People talking together affects the bottom line

The reason you need to get your people to be social is that it creates the necessary bonds to remove fear. If you feel safe, you will engage more, share more and discuss problems more often.

A lot of people and companies are realizing this and are creating a structure to allow more of these conversations to happen:

– At Idexx, they’ve built vegetable gardens on campus, so people from different parts of the business can work together and get to know the whole company that way.

– Alex Pentland has the idea of synchronized coffee breaks, so people would have time to talk to each other. One company saw profits go up by 15 million dollars and employee satisfaction 10%.

– At Acadal, we experience people are surprised by their peers when using our platform to solve a business challenge. The input of your colleagues is only visible when you have provided yours, and that creates the wonder of different perceptions on the same problem.

It sparks new conversations at the watercooler: “Ohh, I saw your input, and I didn’t know that you thought of it like that.”

The Swedes even have a word for it: Fika.

It means to share a coffee together and talk. In a business context, it’s being framed as collective restoration.

Focus on creating interactions, not how

It really doesn’t matter if it’s Close.io’s Snap-chat, Pentland’s synchronized coffee breaks or Acadal’s development platform that sparks the conversation.

What matters is that there is a structure that both allows and encourages these interactions, as a natural part of work-life. The form should be what fits your culture.

Remote teams get this. They are forced into it. But psychical organizations really should think about this as well: How can we create a space or structure where we allow people to connect on a personal level, to strengthen the team and make people happy and feel as part of something.

And that brings me back to the result of Close.io’s Snap-chat experiment. How did it land?

“Brilliant. It’s been super successful. The entire company loves it.”

You can read a full blog post on how Close.io uses snap-chat internally here. How they use it, what’s it good for and where it has its limits. The Start-up Podcast offers even more insight from Steli Efti (24 min). Also, check out Alex Pentland on Harvard Business Review.

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