It has always been challenging for midsize and large enterprises with 1,000 or more employees to ensure and maintain employees’ engagement, devotion to the company, and job satisfaction. In the COVID-19 era, it’s even harder due to remote work.
According to Gartner, 54 percent of HR professionals in the Asia–Pacific region consider inefficient technology and infrastructure for remote work as the greatest barrier to effective remote work in their companies. Gartner has also found that 74 percent of organizations plan to permanently shift to more remote work post COVID-19.
With that in mind, company leaders need to find new ways to strengthen connections within their teams that all of a sudden have become geographically dispersed.
Why is the idea behind Clubhouse promising for internal corporate communication?
You may be wondering how the idea of the now-popular Clubhouse social network based on voice communication is applicable to solving communication problems within an organization. In this post, we don’t talk about how to build an app like Clubhouse. The purpose of this post is to help your company take advantage of the main idea behind this audio chat app. Two examples below will help you understand which peculiarities of this audio-only app you can adopt to empower your organization’s processes.
Improve scheduled events
What software do you use for online calls? The most common answers include popular online conferencing services like Zoom and Google Meet. But such services limit the number of meeting participants to between 100 and 1,000. An enterprise with over 1,000 employees can’t use them to conduct company results presentations or organize large-scale trainings.
Web streaming tools like StreamYard enable a host to broadcast to many more participants, but the streams usually come with seconds-long delays. Such tools also don’t ensure two-way interaction via audio or video, meaning that only one party is a speaker while others are listeners.
On the contrary, Clubhouse allows for delivering high-quality audio to all users and can host up to one million users in a room. Moreover, during a chat, any listener can become the speaker and engage in conversation.
The voice-only social media app also provides users with great moderation abilities like muting, in-room reporting, and the raise a hand feature, allowing a listener to request to speak. Users can enable notifications so they get alerts when discussions are happening that they may be interested in.
Improve day-to-day work
The Clubhouse experience is applicable to ensuring smooth and timely communication and knowledge sharing between coworkers. The Clubhouse model can also help with maintaining friendly relationships. Under pandemic conditions, a lack of team cohesion might cause isolation and loneliness among remote employees. Let’s see what the voice-based social network can teach us about boosting employees’ day-to-day productivity and job satisfaction.
Quick calls. Clubhouse has shown people how quickly they can jump into a voice chat. Workers can avoid most scheduled meetings if they can get in touch with the right coworkers right away to quickly discuss things. Most work issues can be solved without a calendared meeting or time-consuming text messaging.
Live communication. Clubhouse has recognized the value of spontaneous communication and that spontaneity doesn’t mean interrupting a person’s life or work. People decide when to dive into social relationships. In a corporate setting, the idea of at-will socialization can be applied to things like morning coffee talks and interest groups.
Ongoing collaborative work. Clubhouse transmits the vibe of maintaining a connection and sharing knowledge between the public and opinion leaders. This idea can be applied in corporate settings by providing employees with online tools for collaborative, uninterrupted work and easy access to teammates. People can work together on the same project with the ability to clarify details and solve issues as they appear.
Having viewed the main principles of a Clubhouse-like solution for corporate communication, let’s dive into practice. What Clubhouse features will work well to meet your company’s needs?
Clubhouse overview and valuable functionality to adopt
The audio-focused social network Clubhouse provides a social experience via connection building, knowledge sharing, and authentic discussions. Users leave the app inspired or motivated, having made useful acquaintances, met like-minded people, and learned from industry experts. Here, we list the Clubhouse features you can adopt when developing a corporate communication system:
- Following people, topics, and clubs in a person’s area of interest and professional responsibility
- Creating prompt one-off voice chat rooms or scheduling events
- Main feed (called hallway) that shows scheduled and current drop-in audio conversations
- In-app calendar for scheduled events
Keep in mind that your choice of these or other features will depend on the specifics of your established company processes.
How to implement a similar app tailored to your corporate needs
Let’s get down to technical peculiarities to consider when building a stable, secure, and scalable company communication solution. In the modern world, it’s inefficient to develop complex communication software from scratch. Based on our experience and cost estimates, the most cost-effective and time-saving approach would be to create the most suitable architecture and use third-party solutions.
But there’s a catch: there’s a mind-blowing number of off-the-shelf media streaming products. Based on our company’s experience, we’ll tell you what architecture and technologies to choose.
What ready-made media streaming solutions are available
In the world of online communication, there are two types of communication systems.
A full-duplex system is capable of sending and receiving data simultaneously, but this two-way interaction capability places restrictions on the number of connections. Zoom and Google Meet are full-duplex, which is why they can allow for all participants talking simultaneously but support only up to 100 participants.
In contrast, a half-duplex system ensures that transmission can move in just one direction at a time. But as there’s only one source of audio/video in half-duplex, there can be any number of consumers. There are many media streaming vendors including Agora.io, Vonage, OpenTalk, and Twilio. These platforms are half-duplex, allowing for up to one million users in a channel, but technically only one person can speak while other participants just listen.
How to make an app like Clubhouse? Clubhouse uses Agora.io to provide real-time audio functionality via an API. A room moderator assigns the speaker role to one participant at a time and can reassign this role to any listener. But Agora.io, as well as other similar services, has security bottlenecks.
Clubhouse privacy problems
The Clubhouse audio networking app’s outgoing web traffic is sent to servers operated by Agora.io. Metadata about users like their unique ID number and the ID of the room they’re entering is transmitted via the internet in plaintext (with no encryption). This means that any third party with access to a user’s network traffic can seize this personal information. This data protection issue isn’t acceptable for corporate needs. So what’s the solution?
At Yalantis, we have experience creating secure communication systems. This is the approach we usually follow:
- Build an on-premises software product the organization will use on its corporate intranet
- Use ready-made streaming engine software like Ant Media that provides development teams with a self-hosted streaming solution
- Use third-party solutions to add extra must-have features, like MessageBird for messaging
- Ensure a microservice architecture for software flexibility and scalability, meaning more features can easily be added to the system as the need arises
When you get down to identifying the required functionality for your corporate communication system, make sure you avoid or improve some Clubhouse features.
Clubhouse drawbacks to avoid
It’s true that some Clubhouse features need improvement or simply aren’t suitable for corporate needs. Let’s point them out.
For iPhone users only. Clubhouse is currently only available for iOS. When developing your app, analyze the way your employees will interact with the system to ensure its adoption and ease of use. Do you need mobile app development to provide employees with iOS and Android apps or would a web version be enough?
Invite-only and a limited number of invitations. Creating a stir is great for startup virality, but it doesn’t necessarily work for corporate purposes.
No ability to record/store conversations. Some corporate calls like presentations and trainings might need to be recorded.
No video functionality. A drop-in audio chat like Clubhouse won’t allow for sharing video/image content, which might complicate presentations.
No question chat for listeners. The ability to write questions to whoever is speaking has long been a default and useful feature of live streaming tools.
No messaging functionality. Chat within a corporate communication software system might even replace other messaging services. You also can integrate your communication system with a messaging solution you already use to speed up adoption. Check out our user guide on messaging and voice chat app development for more on this topic.
Massive amounts of information. Clubhouse users can’t check the content each room provides until they enter it. As a solution, you can implement thorough room categorization by topics, projects, or functions.
Design flaws. Initiative design is a must for any user-friendly software solution. But Clubhouse users have noticed some user experience flaws including:
- an inability to quickly check who’s talking in the room, which requires a user to scroll through the room
- asking questions is often a mess, with no functionality provided for speaking in turn
- no integration with a user’s own calendar, which complicates event tracking
- disturbing notifications, as users receive notifications each time someone enters the app or starts a room
Clubhouse isn’t tailored to facilitating communication within an organization. In your own app, consider adding other features your employees will take advantage of.
Extra features you can add to your system
The following are examples of functionality taken from existing tools for improving your workflow. Keep in mind that this list isn’t exhaustive and is just a source of inspiration.
Discord app voice channels help teammates simultaneously work on the same task. Participants can unmute themselves at any time and discuss work issues.
The Around video call solution helps users add tiny round video windows over their screens to promptly speak with coworkers while most of their desktop stays focused on their actual work.
Screen, a screen sharing app, provides a widget that can launch a collaborative screenshare. Participants can code, design, and write together in the shared window.
The Pragli virtual office allows users to check if a coworker is busy, away, or free. This feature lets a user know if they can enter a voice/video chatroom with the person without interrupting their work.
We hope this post helps your organization open new horizons. Depending on your company’s needs, you can implement different features, integrations, and design strategies within your corporate communication system.
Yalantis has experience building custom voice chat applications, secure social media platforms, media streaming services, and cloud communication solutions. We’ll gladly help you choose the most suitable tech stack and develop the solution we described in this article step by step, onboard your staff, and provide further software maintenance and support.