Clubhouse drop-in audio app viewed on a smartphone next to headphones and a keyboard

How to Use Audio-based Social App Clubhouse for Team Bonding

February 22, 2021 Digital Workplace
Kaya Ismail
By Kaya Ismail

Social media has embedded itself into almost everything we do. What initially began as a digital meeting spot for niche groups has morphed into entire ecosystems that intertwine the personal and professional aspects of our lives. 

The use of social media for business purposes in particular has continued to skyrocket over the years. Statista estimated that 92% of businesses are expected to utilize social media marketing in 2021. While marketing is the most straightforward use case for most companies, there are opportunities to use social media for things like networking and team-building. And new platforms continue to enter the scene and offer new ways to connect.

Trending social media app Clubhouse has garnered a lot of attention recently, including a $100 million fundraising round from venture firm Andreessen Horowitz in January. The audio-based format of the app promises Zoom-fatigued employees a welcome break from a seemingly endless stream of video chat and collaboration, and gives organizations a buzzy new avenue for corporate communication and socialization. But companies looking to join the club will need to grapple with significant privacy and security concerns.

Clubhouse Audio Chat for Work

Clubhouse is an audio-based social network where users can join discussions, interviews and general conversations about a variety of topics. The app’s invite-only nature provides a level of exclusivity that other social networks don’t currently enjoy and promotes conference-style discussions that have been growing in popularity. 

When it comes to using the app for work and team bonding exercises, Christian Velitchkov, COO and co-founder of Los Angeles-based marketing and advertising company Twiz, thinks it can be useful. “Clubhouse is a great way to spark conversations and encourage sharing of thoughts and opinions. This will provide a platform for socializing among the employees and acquaint them with one another,” said Velitchkov. 

The more relaxed nature of Clubhouse discussions, coupled with the lack of impromptu social interactions as employees work remotely, means the app could provide a meaningful opportunity for unstructured socialization. 

Currently, however, Clubhouse is only available by invite and on certain devices, preventing it from being used regularly for widespread socializing, said Keesjan Engelen, CEO of Taipei, Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer Titoma. “Clubhouse can be a great app for team bonding as long as it’s not mandatory," Engelen said. "However, we don’t do our team bonding there yet because the app requires an invitation to have an account and only iPhone users have access to the app.” 

Related Article: How to Build Company Culture With Remote Teams

Building Professional Relationships, With Limitations

Given that Clubhouse remains exclusive and limited to Apple devices, is it truly a way for higher-ups and employees to have open discussions? 

Velitchkov is bullish. The laid-back nature of Clubhouse is precisely what makes it the perfect choice for these sorts of conversations, he said. “Indulging into the random conversation in the beginning will create a safe space to talk for all. Later, these chats can involve the management to convey the internal matters and host open discussions,” he said. 

Engelen expressed caution, noting that organizations already have the tools to have these open conversations. “I think as far as having an open discussion with management we shouldn’t need to go on social media for that," he said. "So if we need to have a meeting, we just have a Zoom meeting or a conference call.” 

One distinct difference from many of the platforms that have become dominant in the last year, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, is that Clubhouse is a no-video zone. That's good news for employees fatigued by a constant stream of video calls.

The full extent of what is possible in team bonding with Clubhouse won't become clear until it’s available to everyone. But it does provide an opportunity to mix up the monotony of the other communication tools companies are using. The app’s popularity means that it’s already a hot topic among several companies and many employees are looking for ways to join.

“When one of our team members is running a room, we send out an email to everyone in case people like to join and that has been very popular,” Engelen said.

Related Article: 8 Ways to Make Virtual Meetings More Engaging

Significant Security and Privacy Issues Remain

Clubhouse is currently vying for the crown of the next standout social media platform behind the likes of TikTok. However, there are significant privacy challenges that organizations will need to consider.

Some of these issues include Clubhouse's display of the identity of the person that invited a user, rankings of how many people someone invited to Clubhouse, and continued recommendations to invite a user's entire contact list. 

And that was before reports came out that live audio from Clubhouse chats, billed as private, were being streamed by a Clubhouse user to their own third-party website. Users should therefore assume that all conversations are being recorded. Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and former Facebook security chief, told Bloomberg: "Clubhouse cannot provide any privacy promises for conversations held anywhere around the world."

“Clubhouse has had a few privacy issues over time. It had been accused of building fake invites. The legal matters are never-ending,” Velitchkov said.

Security and privacy issues such as these are likely to discourage organizations from using the platform as a go-to team bonding application for a while, but given the popularity Clubhouse holds today it could be a matter of when, rather than if, adoption picks up. 

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