How Wistia balances in-person and remote to improve employee engagement

How Wistia balances in-person and remote to improve employee engagement
March 14, 2023
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The following is inspired by a post written by Brian Swartz on LinkedIn.

For a decade, Wistia has been consistently praised as an excellent place to work - that is until 2020.

After the company abruptly shifted from on-site operations to remote overnight, Founder and CEO Chris Savage noticed employee engagement scores on connectedness with colleagues plummeting from 74% down to 48%.

Something had to change, and it did.

Savage and his team implemented two strategies to re-engage employees, factoring in both in-person and remote experiences:

  1. Company-wide on sites
  2. Co-founder coffees

In both instances, intentionality takes center stage.

The result: engagement scores on connectedness have climbed to 80%, surpassing pre-Covid scores.

In-person strategy: Company-wide on-sites

Two to three times every year, nearly 200 employees congregate at Wistia's HQ in Boston for a balance of all-hands meetings, team time, and, yes, fun.

There is a certain level of energy that occurs when people share the same physical space. For all of the technological advancements, humans are still analog in nature — we need real-life interactions.

“The office really comes alive. People want to spend time together and talk about what they’re working on," Savage told Swartz. "We used to do company-wide retreats pre-Covid and saw a big lift in buy-in and morale every time. Our on-sites today do the same thing. It builds trust and empathy, which is absolutely critical for remote work.”

Remote strategy: Co-founder coffees

Twice a month, Savage and co-founder Brendan Schwartz host informal virtual coffee chats with 5-6 employees who are randomly chosen. These coffee chats have no agenda, last 30-45 minutes, and are designed to build relationships with both the co-founders and colleagues across the organization.

“People say with remote you can’t have the random run-in conversations, but that’s not really true," Savage says. "You just need to be more intentional and make time for the people that are a half degree removed from your day-to-day responsibilities.”

"Intentionality creating serendipity is a beautiful thing." — Rand Fishkin, CEO, SparkToro

The way Wistians responded to this strategy speaks to a way forward for companies looking to make the most of the post-pandemic hybrid era.

The modern workplace should balance in-person and remote experiences, leveraging both physical spaces and virtual tools. This is something that Wistia has done exceptionally well—creating a culture at the intersection of both digital connections and carefully designed in-person moments.