Miro

Miro

About Work

Research Study on Hybrid Office Workshops

Miro is faced with a problem newly unique to the upcoming changes in working from home: how can it evolve to keep its relevance in the market while people go back to office, creating a hybrid workforce? Specifically, how the "back to office" will impact knowledge workers who were until now exclusively collaborating remotely using Miro and other tools.

I was assigned this case study during Memorisely UX/UI Design immersive online Bootcamp. I worked independently, fulfilling the roles for user research, product strategy, UX/UI design, prototyping, and usability testing. For these roles, I utilized Figma, Miro, Typeform, and Maze. The timeline for this project was four weeks, June-July 2021. Due to the short timeframe given to complete the deliverables, the focus of the case study emphasizes both outside research and user research, ideation, and rapid prototyping.

Navigation:

The Problem

Over the last year, offices have been navigating challenges specific to employee communication- both professionally and personally- due to the overnight change in company regulations across the world. Traditional office culture transitioned to working from home, and as we slowly return to in-person systems, an even newer set of complexities arise: the hybrid workforce. The realities of the hybrid workplace mean that both sides need to be met in the middle. Remote workers are expected to facilitate in-person experiences, so their in-office colleagues should anticipate workplace communication existing majority online. A symptom of offices existing almost exclusively online is the "shorter meetings" dilemma: requesting a quick 15 minute 'meeting' with a co-worker to resolve a simple task usually requires waiting a moment (10-15min), resulting in a window of time where nothing can really get done: the project at hand is at standby until the meeting and there's not enough time to get involved in a new assignment. This system of communication is exceptionally frustrating for those involved, especially in the time that is felt 'wasted' causes a ripple effect throughout teams in these 'waiting game' scenarios.

Hypothesis

I believe that by introducing a feature that facilitates casual long-form virtual workshops with video integration, employees can experience similar feelings of working together in an office, and Miro will successfully create a space that naturally feels communal, aiding both productivity and quality of work life.

User Goal Business Goal

The Solution

Solutions were focused on the need for an online space that implied a context of casual conversation- meaning that if someone is active, they are available to chat, no need to ask. This was iterated on the idea of an online visual of "desks" that would show if your colleagues were free, already chatting together, or briefly "away" and unable to speak. This environment was designed to implement simple features that facilitate similar known workplace interactions.

The color of the user's arrow corresponds to what conversational status they are: if multiple people have the same color- they are in a group chat, grey means they are available- but not currently chatting, and black indicates they are momentarily 'away'

Deliverables

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What is needed for a successful facilitation in a hybrid context? How can the facilitator adapt to ensure attendees feel heard and included? How do participants feel when participating in a hybrid workshop? What tools can best help with that? How can we best use the technology inside meeting rooms to run effective hybrid meetings? How could Miro evolve to better serve this specific type of meeting? How are concepts like presence, visibility, influence being shaped by your physical location during the session?

Questions & Observations

To help me better frame any problems with the product, I began by forming some questions and observations I have about the product. To easily document these I followed the structure [situation], [response], [problem to business or experience] to ensure I'm aware of users and business needs.

When offices are based remotely, employees don't have a comparable way to connect casually, which causes frustration with daily work life, especially in time management.

When offices are in a hybrid setting, remote employees are potentially put in environments that "other" them from communication, which causes isolation and a lack of motivation to work.

Initial Research

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"Our data says that 20 percent of full workdays will be supplied from home after the pandemic ends, compared with just 5 percent before. We develop evidence on five reasons for this large shift: better-than-expected WFH experiences, new investments in physical and human capital that enable WFH, greatly diminished stigma associated with WFH, lingering concerns about crowds and contagion risks, and a pandemic-driven surge in technological innovations that support WFH." (NBER, 2021)

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"One of the effects most often cited was an increase in the number of (shorter) meetings needed to solve a problem, because, as a survey respondent put it, people could no longer “just pop by to someone else’s office to ask a question.” Another said, “I can’t wander over to someone’s desk or connect over coffee in the kitchen. As a result, I think I spend a lot more time in meetings.” (HBR, 2021)

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"Our weekly meeting time suddenly jumped 10 percent. This translates to an average of three additional meetings per week per employee. ~7 out of 10 employees experienced at least some increase in meetings" (Microsoft, 2020)

UX Research & User Interviews

User interviews were conducted with participants over Zoom. The questions were focused on remote office systems in comparison to pre-pandemic office work culture, specifying attitudes towards productivity, peer communication, and general motivation (both professionally and personally).

An issue that was raised most often was the "shorter meetings" dilemma: requesting a quick 15 minute 'meeting' with a co-worker to resolve a simple task usually requires waiting a moment (10-15min), resulting in a window of time where nothing can really get done: the project at hand is at standby until the meeting and there's not enough time to get involved in a new assignment.

This system of communication is exceptionally frustrating for those involved, especially in the time that is felt 'wasted' causes a ripple effect throughout teams in these 'waiting game' scenarios.

Interview Questions:
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Ideation

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Prioritised Problems

  1. Decrease in "pop-in" productivity: with the loss of in-person workplaces also comes the lack of casual questions for problem solving. This was met with higher amounts of short meetings, which results in a tremendous amount of time wasted in the meantime.
  2. Bridging remote and in-office: the realities of the hybrid workplace mean that both sides need to be met in the middle. Remote workers are expected to facilitate in-person experiences, so their in-office colleagues should anticipate workplace communication existing majority online.

Hypothesis

I believe that by introducing a feature that facilitates casual long-form virtual workshops with video integration, employees can experience similar feelings of working together in an office, and Miro will successfully create a space that naturally feels communal, aiding both productivity and quality of work life.

User Goal Business Goal

Low-Fidelity Sketches

Sketches focused on the dropdown 'desk' feature and visual cues for both initiating and participating in a call:

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Styles & Components

The design was focused on being native to Miro's brand identity- the goal was to implement a new system feature without disrupting the information architecture and remaining cohesive stylistically. Uncomplicated subtleties are inherent to Miro's aesthetic and it was imperative to maintain those qualities.

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The icon for the "desk view" was a specific choice in designing an image that would immediately inform the user that this is a space for communication.

The location of the icon was purposefully placed in the midpoint of the header, under where the camera is found on standard laptop and desktop computers. This communicates that by entering this space, it is implied that casual conversation is expected and there isn't a need to ask if someone is available to chat.

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System references for older-generation "chatrooms" & casual internet communication

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Mid-Fidelity Prototype

Below is the final version of the prototype that I created. I included interactions and transitions from Figma to match the products flow.

Outcome

The outcome of the case study is extremely exciting to view as a jumping-off point for a more in-depth research study on casual long-form remote office workshops. The context of features such as the "desk view" only make sense when they are being used within an established remote workplace that is trying to remedy the missing aspects of in-person office system. That being said, I strongly believe that by facilitating casual long-form remote workshops with video integration, employees can experience similar feelings of working together in an office, and Miro will successfully create a space that naturally feels communal, aiding both productivity and quality of work life.