How to win friends and influence company culture with group chat

"If you can laugh together, you can work together." —Robert Orben

Culture [kuhl-cher]

noun: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

Company culture is important. Super important. If you don't understand just how important, you haven't worked at a company with a great one. (Or a lousy one.)

Company culture is rooted in the ways teammates and coworkers communicate.

Communication strengthens relationships, and it's through these relationships that culture is expressed. This is why company events and off-sites are so essential. The bonding they encourage forms deeper connections, which, in turn, strengthen everything the culture is based on—traditions, values, traits. Employees who care about each other work better together.

Think about how you communicate with the people on your team and in your company. (When you're not at an off-site drinking beers, that is.) One of the best ways? Walk up and say hello. But in today's offices, with distributed teams across the globe, we often don't have that luxury. This lack of face time leads to more impersonal forms of communication, like email. Over time, a disconnected feeling grows and it affects culture.

Where group chat comes in

So, if you can't be together, you've got to replace that feeling of being together. A great way to do this—drumroll please—is with group chat. Yep, group chat influences company culture because it encourages communication.

How does group chat work its magic?

  • It's fun. Features like emoticons and gifs allow you to express your personality, which makes it easier for people to get to know you. Not all communication is so vitally important, or needs a heavy-handed, carefully-crafted email treatment. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. A well placed emoticon is worth at least 500. (Rimshot.)

Pro tip
Create your own emoticons! With some group chat tools–ok, we mean HipChat–each account can add up to 50 custom emoticons. You can add your teammates’ faces, for example, and make chat even more fun. 

  • It's easy. Group chat provides an opportunity for relationship building that just wouldn't happen without group chat. Because it's simple to create new rooms for anything—film buffs, hip-hop aficionados, budding chefs—it's easy to form like-minded groups. All of these avenues grease the wheels of communication, connection, and (you guessed right) culture.
  • It's immediate. Group chat reduces the friction of communicating. It's incredibly satisfying—even thrilling—to work with teammates who respond with quick answers, files and docs. That quick accessibility—and the jazz of having a question answered quickly—positively impacts cultural bonds because working together is exciting and delightful. Things are getting done, and it feels good.
  • It's automate-able. Another way to make communicating with group chat more efficient, fast, and freakin' cool is with bots. That's right, robots. Group chat tools have the ability to integrate with super-cool bots that can perform all sorts of tasks for you, saving you time and making work more fun in the process.

Bots on the scene
There's a bot called Hubot that our friends at Hubspot use in their HipChat. They call it WoosterBot, and have configured it to respond to all sorts of commands. They can write: "@WoosterBot image me a hotdog" and the bot will return an image...right in the chat stream. Or, "@WoosterBot lunch" and a local cafe's daily lunch special appears. Talk about a time-saving device! 

A good team has solid chemistry, and this type of quick, fun, and easy communication strengthens team chemistry. As you get to know the people you work with, it becomes easier to work together and get more stuff done.

A peek into a group chat team room

“You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what you're doing is work or play.” —Warren Beatty 

Your company’s culture plays a huge role in attracting and retaining talent, fostering community and relationships, and dictating overall company direction. Why would you risk not having a strong one?  

Posted by Jamey Austin

5 min read