Role & Responsibility
Methods & Tools
- UX Researcher
- Product Designer
- Secondary Research
- Online Survey
- User Scenario
- User Interview
- Concept Testing
Video conferencing has been the way business is done in tech for several years. Since COVID-19, it has been a huge surge in demand and leads to over 62 million downloads of video conferencing software. Meanwhile, more issues and online meeting fatigues started to make people suffered. In this project, we're aiming to create a better tool or concept to help people address the stress of working and collaborating remotely.
In this project, we followed the sprint method and divided the developing process into 7 different sprint phases. For each sprint, we divided in to two different groups to focus on different tasks.
To have a better understanding of the observed issues, we conducted a secondary research, focusing on psychological and workplace factors that might be related to these issues. We concluded four key reasons that caused the gap between working remotely vs working on-site:
From the 133 responses of our online survey, we found that:
- Casual chats frequency has a significant drop after switched to remote working
- The satisfaction for both connecting with teams and meeting new colleagues also dropped significantly
From the user interview, we found some common issues that people are suffering after switch to fully remote working:
The ability of "sensing things" from the environment is taken away.
- Synchrony issues disabled some effective communication interactions.
- Lacking physical languages and other clues make it harder to sense the atmosphere in online meetings.
- People are not working in the same environment, which removed the ability to notice what/ how others are doing.
Hard to create/ maintain connections.
- Casual interactions are becoming purposeful.
- New employees feels more difficult to bond with others without in-person activities or casual collisions.
- The different social roles are mixed together. (ex. Manager/ Mother of two/ Community member)
Remote works are inefficient sometimes.
- No matter it is a simple request or a complicated issue, you need to schedule a meeting.
- Unlike physical space, online meeting tools have limitless options which could be distracting. (too much colors, limitless spaces...)
- Some brief follow-ups changed into something that people need to spend time writing or reading.
Based on what we learned from previous research, we set up these 3 background scenarios to ideate our design solutions:
To solve the issues in the first scenario, the most essential as well as challenging factor would be how to bring the proximity and space to the virtual setting. In this concept we build a virtual space that includes the following features:
- A map glance for users to learn where and what kind of conversations are activating in the space now.
- Users can move around in the space and hear from different open conversations with tags capturing the topic and decide which conversation they would like to join.
- The audio and video information of each conversation would be altered based on the proximity. Users can also decide whether they would like to mute any conversation or create a closed conversation.
As for the second scenario, the main focus of the concept is to allow users to set up different formats they would like to apply in their online meeting and make archiving and catching up previous meetings more easily.
- While creating a white board meeting, users can set up the format and limit the color schemes, sticker sizes, and other factors to make sure the content created in this meeting would be more aligned and prevent participants from distracting.
- The board history synchronize the meeting recording with captured discussion topics and transcripts. Users can also search different important discussions during the meeting by reviewing the marks in the board history timeline.
- Users are allow to easily select a range of the board that contains important content to quickly share to others or lock the part from editing.
For managers manage their team, the focus here is to make checking for work status effortlessly with convenient review tools.
- A board view of the current works status of each team member, showing their current focus, the tasks they are working on and the tasks that they would like to update or seek for feedback.
- Create new requests to notify colleagues and managers to response to certain tasks within the scheduled time.
- Combine other team management or project management applications and have a whole picture of the progress.
To test our design solutions, we created slide deck explaining the concept of each solution and demonstrate picture prototype of the design solutions. In each interview, the moderator would explain the focused scenarios and the corresponding solution concepts then clarify with the participants whether the issues they countered in similar scenarios are addressed with the proposed solutions and also their feedback on each solution concepts.
What people like:
- Recreating the proximity and openness of workplace in virtual environment allow people to have a better sense of the environment as well as gaining back the control of whether they would like to get involved in conversations or stay away.
- Although the unintentional random casual collisions are still challenging to recreate in the virtual environment, the design allows people to start casual interaction effortlessly, lower the obstacle to get people involved and interact with each other.
- Some features in the solutions for team management and whiteboard meetings, such as the board history and request notification, could be really helpful in preventing some of the current communication issues.
What people think could be improved:
- While focusing mostly on recreate the experiences from physical world to the virtual environment, some of the advantages of the virtual environment are abandoned. A better focus could be keeping advantages from both physical and virtual setting to solve remote working issues.
- If the solutions are leading to create a brand new tool, how to balancing the usage of existing different applications and creating the differentiator would be the main challenge to address.
- Although recreate the proximity and awareness in the virtual environment seems to bring back some casual collisions, how to keep people's privacy while applying these new features into their daily works is another issue to be solved.
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