Communication Working Remote

Communicating from Home

During the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in early spring of 2020, workers globally have had to switch gears and learn to work remotely. After over a year of remote working, it has become obvious that remote workers are emotionally and physically unable to perform the same as they did in person — because of the disconnection and dissociation from their place of work. Let’s ask ourselves, “How might we preserve a strong sense of unity and community for remote workers within their company?”

This very prompt was used to generate interview questions for a variety of remote workers, outlining some major questions about their experiences working remotely — while validating our assumptions. A primary persona was created to describe the major wants, needs, frustrations, and attributes of a particular user base undergoing remote communication.

A proposed Slack mobile feature was created through the ideation and design iteration process, after analyzing and synthesizing user interviews and later two rounds of Figma prototype usability tests. The feature allows users to send conversation starters by suggested or searched category, randomized subject, or customized subject. Various users tested both the Lo-FI and Hi-Fi versions of this feature — as key feature insights and future recommendations were recorded.

Through user feedback, we were able to pinpoint the exact needs of our users to focus on creating solutions that solve our main focus — how we can bring users together socially to start new conversations, celebrate each other, and motivate each other during these isolated times.

Problem Space

To fully understand our users, we need to first understand their behaviors, challenges, and any changes that they have faced since becoming remote. We are in search of the recent major impacts that remote working has had on the communication, community, and productivity within companies.

Hypothesis + Assumptions

We first start the research process by reaching a hypothesis based on assumptions in the described problem space.

Discover + Define

To understand if our hypothesis and assumptions are true— we look to interviewees to answer a series of questions about their experiences working from home.

Affinity Mapping

After interviewing, responses were collected and recorded. With these responses we generated categories and themes within user responses — Affinity Mapping. Based on these themes, we discovered key user insights.

Basic Themes and Subcategories

Key Takeaways / Insights

  1. Communication within a company is key to achieving goals and motivating others
  2. There needs to be a better way to meet new people within your company and get to know them on a deeper level
  3. Social communication is popular within companies to create ways of entertainment, focus-breaks, and community.

Persona

This is Dan.

Here, our persona, Dan, represents the users who need help starting conversations with new people at work — the users who find it hard to fit in with the community at work. The people… who we are solving these problems for.

Problem Statement — Revised

To improve communication both socially and professionally, how might we bring users together to start new conversations, celebrate each other, and motivate each other during these isolated times?

Feature Ideation from Insights

After discovering and defining major challenges and experiences with users working remote, a few major insights were noted — which helped ideate possible feature solutions within mobile remote communication.

Designing Quick Chat

The chosen design feature was decidedly added onto the Slack mobile app. The Quick Chat feature — enabling remote workers to more quickly start conversations by…

Findings

  • There are plug-ins for Slack which can send out randomized conversation jokes, quotes, and messages
  • Remote users miss out on “coffee rants”, “water-cooler talks” and “in-passing conversations” which are greatly valued to uncover “vulnerability” and “true friendships” within the workplace

Quick Chat allows the user to search and select recipient(s), compose a message by subject choice — categories, randomize, or customized, and then send. The user can edit suggested messages and chat types within compose.

Lo-Fidelity Prototype

Mid-Fidelity Prototype

This feature was then designed into the layout of Slack mobile for the Mid-Fi prototype design stage.

Here, users are given less options than the Lo-Fi design, as well as more customization options — to hopefully provide clarity to the intended design feature.

Mid-Fi Prototype Wire Flow

Usability Testing 1 — Lo-Fi Prototype

All 5 users during the Lo-Fi Usability test were able to successfully complete the tasks that were asked of them. However, users need better indication of their options and “next steps” while composing their messages — there are currently too many options to choose from.

Lo-Fi Wire Flow

Interactive Lo-Fi Prototype

Usability Testing 2 — Mid-Fi Prototype

Most users during the Mid-Fi Usability test were able to successfully complete the tasks that were asked of them — however there was a 17 sec increase in “Time on Task” from Test 1 to Test 2. Some users hit a friction point when they forgot the task was to “create a message” due to the unfamiliar message style of the page.

FINAL THOUGHTS + RECOMMENDATIONS

Users did place a heavy importance on improving the compose message screens to be more clearly labeled as a “new message”.

In the future, the composed messages should clearly state that it is a “New Message” and all other titles on the screen should be smaller in size. All important buttons should clearly indicate if they are selected or not with contrasted colors. Users need the ability to type generic or specific categories into the “Send by Categories” search bar, and receive results. In the future these recommendations are first in priority to set Quick Chat in motion for Slack mobile.

Interactive Final Prototype