Imagine what it’s like these days for new hires finding their way in tech companies. Company culture is something they pick up on during videoconferences, interacting with people they haven’t met in person and might not get to know for a long while. And in some cases, they may learn that the nearest office is transforming into a meeting place rather than a traditional workplace.
Making company culture work remotely
Those challenges place an extra burden on high-tech employers to make their company culture work remotely. Theta Lake is an aggressive example of this. It is disrupting legacy compliance technology vendors, providing AI-based compliance and security tools for unified communications, requiring them to work hard to properly integrate its new hires—maybe twice as hard as most—because its team has literally doubled in size in the past six months.
Compounding that integration effort, Theta Lake employees are distributed across multiple countries. “There’s a lot of key strategic hires we’ve brought on that we don’t ever get to meet and develop rapport with, which makes it increasingly difficult,” said Anthony Cresci, Theta Lake’s VP of Business Development & Operations. For the foreseeable future, he knows it won’t be possible to take a new hire out and bond over dinner. We asked Cresci to please share with us how Theta Lake is bridging this divide for both the new hires and the company itself.
Building team cohesion
Theta Lake has always had a “video-first,” culture, explained Cresci, but it also does a lot of messaging instead of email. Like many firms, Theta Lake typically holds an “all-hands” meeting to update the entire company on the latest internal news. Executives encourage team members to share their activities, review projects or processes, or highlight new features capabilities.
The goal, Cresci said, is to drive more personal connections, which might not otherwise happen organically. Theta Lake wants employees to feel more comfortable approaching someone they haven’t met in person. As a result, the company is developing ways to increase camaraderie:
- It creates activities with break-out groups where “there’s some sort of competition” like a quiz or a collaboration
- It has monthly activities which have included “making a drink” or “having a coffee break”
- It’s considering mandating employee participation in 1:1 or small group “meetings with people who might not otherwise connect”—such as sales and engineering workers sharing what they’re working on
Some experiments work better than others. For instance, they tried a session where employees were given a virtual tour of a physical farm and introduced to the animals. “Personally, I thought other activities generated more participation from all employees,” said Cresci, but added, “It was a fun experience, but there wasn’t a lot of communication between employees.” The upshot is that getting to know your coworkers engenders team cohesion.
Of course, working from anywhere isn’t all fun and games, and Theta Lake knows this better than most high-tech companies. That’s because it’s in the compliance business—focused on unified communications. It provides tools that integrate with RingCentral Office and other platforms to perform capture, eDiscovery, data loss protection, and supervision of video meetings, audio recordings, and collaboration chat. Theta Lake analyzes massive volumes of unified communications to automate the detection of compliance and data leakage risks, enabling compliance and risk teams to be more proactive and efficient in supervising communications.
Prior to the pandemic, companies in regulated industries were archiving email and other corporate documents, but many weren’t establishing compliance and security controls for chat or video conferences—which Cresci calls “the way people communicate today.” The advent of unified communications platforms has “also created richer ways for people to share information,” often asynchronously.
Unfortunately, legacy compliance stacks are unable to process and analyze these richer forms of communication, added Cresci, which has resulted in “data leakage, [unauthorized] sharing, and employee misconduct.” Lacking more modern compliance and security controls, Cresci said some companies have limited how their employees can interact remotely by turning off information-sharing features, but that should not be the approach, as it negatively impacts user experiences.
Most of the compliance monitoring that happens today is around providing visibility and even remediation in a post-review scenario, rather than in real-time, but he said that with “bots” and new streaming APIs the ability for compliance functionality to actively participate in meetings then can not only provide tools that coach users on how to reduce risk use, but also move towards more real-time response for “data leakage” or other compliance issues.
Going forward, Theta Lake will reduce its office space at its Santa Barbara, Calif. headquarters, based on the assumption that work may be hybrid and coming in will be optional. “We’ll always have a meeting space,” he said. And it will “give employees the choice of how they prefer to do it.” Likewise, team travel may be reduced from monthly to quarterly business reviews.
If an organization is able to collaborate remotely, and securely, and achieve results, then they won’t need to meet in person as often, added Cresci. With unified communications, “we’ve been super productive and it has allowed us to hire the best talent regardless of location,” he said. “It’s always great to meet people but now we can re-evaluate which meetings do need to happen in person versus which ones don’t. It opens up ways for the company to be more effective and cost efficient.”
Cresci’s takeaway advice to other high-tech companies includes:
- Exploit fully unified communications feature functionalities in order to maximize team productivity and efficiency
- Set a formal unified communications policy across the global business; for instance, standardize on one rather than multiple platforms
- Leverage unified communications to embrace a global talent pool
RingCentral for high-tech: enabling work from anywhere
To learn more about Theta Lake and how other high-tech leaders are leveraging unified communications and collaboration to deliver better business outcomes, visit www.ringcentral.com/high-tech.
Originally published Feb 04, 2021, updated Feb 03, 2021