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Riff: Why we exist

2020 changed teamwork forever. We used to work together in offices; now we work separately at home. And while this has produced numerous benefits, it’s also thrown up new challenges — like isolation.

Most of us work in teams. But what was a real-life collection of people working together toward a shared objective is now a series of individuals — still working together, but apart. And this raises the question: how can teams work effectively in the new normal?

Change is an opportunity to iterate and improve. Some might say teamwork only happens in offices, but we believe remote teams can actually benefit from this shift: we believe that teams can now be even more effective than ever before

Enter Riff

Riff is an audio workplace that recreates presence within teams. On Riff, you work from home in a shared audio space with the rest of your team. Instead of commuting, you open Riff. Want to speak with somebody? You don’t need to schedule a call, be on camera, or type a message. Just talk.

We’ve observed that when teams go remote, they tend to struggle with three key issues. These are what Riff is here to solve.

1. Talking is hard

Teams work best when their members can feed off one another and move quickly. In an office environment, a chat with a colleague is a non-event. But when you’re working remotely, that chat becomes a much larger ordeal. Is it important enough to schedule a video call? Should you distill it into text? Would it be better to not chat at all? On Riff, remote teams can sit together in audio spaces and share the creative flows that allow them to innovate quickly. Complex ideas are easier to discuss over audio than text, and sharing happens more frequently when the barrier to communication is low.

2. Working alone is isolating

When communication becomes transactional, the emotional bond within our teams is neglected. That’s why remote work feels so isolating — we’re all human, after all.

Riff brings presence back to remote teams. It’s just there, running in the background: you can overhear your team’s conversations happening in the background and tune them out or jump in. Our users have always said that hearing one another boosts morale and allows things to be more quickly resolved. And it’s been shown over and over that knowing that you’re not alone helps with difficult tasks.

3. Chance encounters are missing
Teams need the right information and context, but distributing this remotely is hard. On Riff, shared audio spaces allow for ambient collaboration: you’ll be able to overhear conversations between other team members working alongside you, just like the office. That means you can gently absorb knowledge, know what others are working on, and participate where you’d like. It feels like you belong.

Serendipity isn’t something that’s traditionally been engineered, but Riff creates an environment in which it can be. Think of Riff as a matchmaker, aiming to facilitate the right distribution of knowledge within companies. If two people are working on a document, Riff can push them together. And if knowledge is shared on Riff, it can be captured and passed along to the right person — so that no one misses out.

Remote work has produced countless opportunities to better integrate our work into our lives, and a real chance to improve how we work. This is one of those fundamental, once-in-a-lifetime, societal changes that drastically impacts how we live, where we’re located, and what we work on. Remote work doesn’t need to be lonely. We have the opportunity to eliminate the drawbacks of the traditional office and make the workplace more egalitarian and inclusive. And that’s what Riff is about.

Riff is a lightweight virtual office for high-velocity teams.