Cardwell Beach has been a remote company since our founding. Today, our employees work across the United States and around the world. And—as surprising as this sounds—we rarely use video conferences for internal work.
But what about Zoom, you ask? After all, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the videoconferencing platform a household name, and many knowledge workers spend hours on Zoom calls each day.
For us, though, Zoom isn’t a good fit for our workflow. Instead, we organize our work in the collaboration tool Asana, check in throughout the day via Google Chat, and—shockingly—pick up the phone for internal meetings.
Here’s why we take a lower-tech approach to collaboration at Cardwell Beach.
Video erases many of the benefits of being remote in the first place. Our employees benefit from a remote work culture that lets them produce great work while living where and how they want. Requiring employees to stare into a webcam during every meeting cuts down on the flexibility we enjoy as remote workers.
Video makes it more difficult to review material as a team. While, in theory, sharing a screen should work well for reviewing design or copy, in practice, bad connections or unintuitive platforms make this tough to pull off. Instead, we review material on our own devices and discuss over the phone or via chat. This also avoids the need for people to feel pressured to look into a camera rather than focusing on the work.
Video adds extra pressure to the conversation. In-person, people look at each other, around the room, and maybe at their watch or phone. On Zoom, people often feel so much anxiety to “look attentive” that they miss important details during meetings. This can start to feel like attending a job interview during every meeting.This unnecessary added pressure can be exhausting.
Video wastes employee time on energy-draining details. From makeup to fashion choices to work-appropriate backdrops, visual cues matter during video conferences. That means employees must build extra time into their day just to prepare for a meeting. Lose the video and employees can sleep later, work where they like, and focus their time and energy on the work itself.
An audio-friendly workplace embraces remote culture and lets employees work where, when, and how they want without judgement. We have one dedicated employee who does their best work sitting on the beach with their laptop. A Zoom call from the beach might look unprofessional, but a phone call is just as effective no matter where you are.
One of the biggest benefits of remote work is that employees can just focus on getting the work done while avoiding the fluff of office life. Cutting out video conferencing from your organization encourages your team to work however they see fit.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a video call to meet new team members, partners, or clients. But for everyday work, we’ve chosen good old-fashioned audio. Saying goodbye to video chats for internal work has let us enjoy the full benefits of remote work. You might want to consider giving it a try for your team, too.