MICRO UX | IBM - Week 4

Week 4 🗓: 4 May - 8 May

Brief 🔍

Design a way to counter some of the alienating effects of remote working online.

Teammates: 🤝 Pat, Lee and Ann


This week we focused on the idea of the physical plugin, especially about thinking about what should be put into the physical tool kit and deliver to user houses. As we need to present our progress to client next Monday, we also need to organize our process to show them how we come up with this direction. Therefore, we divided our work into four parts. Firstly, we organized and sketched our timeline to show the IBM Process Loop, the research we did, the theories we read and tell them how we get to this stage. Secondly, we found more evidence to support the "Share Moments" and "Team Building" concept. Thirdly, we enhanced the Physical Plugins Kit Set idea, and we will show them how this physical kit set can link to the idea of the digital plugin & platform. Lastly, we did some user tests and got feedback about our idea. We analysis their comments and listed out some key findings, which helped us to set the future plan for the next stage.


Timeline 📍

In the "Discover" part, we did secondary research and primary research in order to identify the problem and find out the design direction. Then, we defined our target users, insight, needs and theme. We used the AEIOU method, artifact analysis, storytelling to design our concept. After confirming the concept and direction, we create storyboards, prototypes, and get feedback from user test.

Timeline of last 4 weeks

Secondary Research

Below is the recap of the theories and case studies. We also analyzed the Design Loop system of IBM. We listed the process that better done physically or can't be done digitally.

Primary Research

We also did the user interview with three types of users - digital product designer, physical product designer and non-designer.

After doing this research, we found out there are lots of senses that have been missing when people working from home. It inspired us to also look at the Home setting VS Office setting.

Home VS Office

The user journey, encoding and decoding of communication and the AEIOU is quite different from home and office. It gives us three key questions to explore: What people do when working from home? How people connect with each other? And what things/ artifacts they use?

Insights 💡 We found our that actually there are lots of digital solutions to help people work remotely, they can collaborate and work together online. However, to them, "work" is not just about work, people also care about their working experience. They feel more lonely and disconnected with their workmates and company when they are working from home. We found this is having more potential opportunities so we decided not to focus on enhancing workspace but rather choosing to explore the direction of helping people to keep connections and remote socializing with their workmates.


From Team Building to Share Moments 👫

Then, we look at what is Team building because these are some physical activities that already being used for building colleagues' relationships. It may be useful for getting insights to develop our idea.

After analyzing all the insights and findings, we set our design statement:

“How can we design a team-building system which not only creating shared moment between colleagues who work remotely, but also gives each of them chance to enhance their skills as well through creative Muti-element resorts”


Idea - Physical & Digital Plugins 📦

Our idea is called as "Share Moments", which is the physical and digital Plugins.

What’s that mean?

For the physical plugins, which is a so-called “Share Moment” kit set. It will be included some physical artifacts that can engage users and create the digital and physical experience for them. Users have to download the digital plugins in order to use the physical plugins remotely.


User Flow 📌

Below is the User Flow, which explained how a company can use this “Share Moment” Kit Set to engage with their remote workers. When the company sent the kit set to the remote worker home, the workers can either use the digital code or scan the QR code to download our digital plugins. Then, they can set the profile, break time alerts, and invite their workmates to share moments together. Thought out those activities, we target to build an eco-system for remote workers and their company.

User Flow for our idea

This is how the physical plugins and the digital plugins work together. Although we are still in developing the ideas, below are some examples that we are imagining and working on it. We will test them and revise to make it better in the next stage.

Sketch for explaining how the physical toolkit link with digital plugins

The first object is the coloured fork, normally you can use it for having lunch with your workmates. But we are thinking to create a lunchtime experience for them. The real object is icebreaking, get people laughing, and enhance the relationship.

Here is a storyboard that we are thinking of. When you are playing this round table game with your physical plugins - Fork. Your digital plugins will also change into the round table screen in order to help you have a better experience.

Sketch for the Fork idea

The second object is the oversized t-shirt, which can DIY and wear it to show to your workmates. The third one is the laptop pillow for you and your laptop, which can be used during break time. The next one is DIY Aromatherapy, we are thinking to connect the smell with your workmates. The last one is the cocktail kit, everyone love happy hour! But we are thinking more than just drinking.

So The Share Moments will be recorded in their team profile. The more they engage, the more team rewards they can get.

We are still exploring different options and trying to mix the best combination in order to give more chances for users to share moments.

User Feedback

Then, we did storytelling and speed dating to get some user feedback on our current idea. We explored "How people think about Team building?" and Feedback on our idea based on Sketches. The finding is people all have positive feedback on team building. They said they would love to join if it is within the working hours. They are also curious to know more about their colleagues and to learn some skills.

We will also improve our idea in these four aspects: "Sparks Curiosity", "Competitiveness", "Sustainability" and "Physicality". In the next stage, we will revise our idea, do prototyping and use testing again to make it better.

Happiness is only real when shared. - Christopher McCandless, Into the wild


Project feedback & Reflection 🙌

Midpoint Review - Presenting to client on Zoom

We presented all the things that we did to our clients and got valuable feedback. They like the concept of Physical and digital connection. They suggest us for the happy hour artifact can be connecting happy hour glasses. It can trigger physical moments through digitally enhanced objects. They asked us about "what is the connection point with the physical objects
?"
 Can we use something that we use every day like an enhanced pen? Secondly, they suggest us to focus on tackling the sustainability problem. We can think of the longevity of a game - is it fun the 5th time? They suggested we can create a subscription model: Monthly/ Birthday/ Christmas. The toolkit can change and have various options, like Bloom box, Glossy box and food boxes. Thirdly, we should also think of the Motivation of our design. We should design a way that can motivate people to do it. They said it should replace work time with fun time, don't use personal time. It can be plugged into work. Time is already committed so if it’s in etc calendar and this replaces a scheduled meeting. It can create an operational mindset so people will plan it into the day. We may 
factor it into a project means it’s built into the regular workflow. Lastly, they also want to know more about the Guidance. How to teach people to use the physical and digital plugins - lots of guidance, hand-holding through the system. How would this work? and how does it translate into the new normal? They said it is a transition phase, it will be great if we can bring new normal to users so they will also love working from home. After getting all these useful comments, our team have a meeting and discuss our next step. We all agree to focus on confirming the physical toolkit next week. We will need to think more artifacts to test. Please have a look at the next blog for further progress.

References 📖

Fapohunda, T.M., 2013. Towards effective team building in the workplace. International Journal of Education and Research1(4), pp.1-12.


Fried, J. and Hansson, D.H., 2013. Remote: office not required. Random House.


Fortune. 2020. The 100 Best Companies To Work For - Google. [online] Available at: <https://fortune.com/best-companies/2017/google/> [Accessed 25 May 2020].


Fussell, S.R., Setlock, L.D., Yang, J., Ou, J., Mauer, E. and Kramer, A.D., 2004. Gestures over video streams to support remote collaboration on physical tasks. Human-Computer Interaction19(3), pp.273-309.


Ingold, T., 2013. Making: Anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. Routledge.


Jiang, M., 2020. The Reason Zoom Calls Drain Your Energy. [online] Bbc.com. Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200421-why-zoom-video-chats-are-so-exhausting> [Accessed 1 June 2020].

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