Find Workspace Near Me: How Environment Impacts Morale

Overview
We sought to find out how we might improve remote communication for Zoom users in the midst of COVID. Although we started our research believing they needed a way to manage their productivity better, we instead found that they really needed safe alternatives to their current work environment. Users’ surroundings directly impacted their productivity, motivation, and overall mental health.

With these findings, we designed the “Find Workspace Near Me” Zoom navigation and rankings feature. Users are able to locate outdoor areas using their current (or desired) location to find a safe, quiet, and work-friendly setting with a stable internet connection. The feature allows users to see others’ rankings of these workspaces, the peak foot traffic time, and distance from them. Lastly, this feature directly connects to their preferred navigation application (Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze).

Through our extensive work, we found that there was a disconnect for users with being able to imagine Zoom as a search tool. We also found that upon viewing the prototype, users thought the feature was meant to find communal, available now, indoor office space (such as WeWork or similar entities). Additionally, users reported that they struggled to see the results due to the image size of the interactive map. Once proceeding farther along in the happy path and understanding the function of the feature, users stated that they would use the feature during COVID or if out of town. Encouragingly, they would also use the feature after the pandemic to locate ideal indoor workspaces

Scope of Work + Process
Our scope of work focused on remote communication, its impact on our user’s work life, and how to improve it. We used the double diamond method beginning with research. We began our research with the following hypothesis, assumptions, and initial problem statement:

Assumptions

  • Remote communication users will want to use online platforms to track their work schedule and social life schedule.
  • Remote communication users want to use online platforms to create flexible schedules and save time.
  • Remote communication users are on these platforms now more than ever and look to them as a lifeline for efficiency, productivity, and connectivity with family, friends and work.
  • Remote communication users have a love hate relationship with the platforms they use and want a better divide to keep their work from bleeding into their afterhours activities.
  • Remote communication users want a way to manage their personal schedules and workloads, as well as those of others.

Hypothesis
People need a better way to communicate with colleagues, manage schedules and productivity, and spark social conversations they are missing during work from home conditions.

Initial Problem Statement
How might we provide remote communication users a better way to communicate with colleagues, manage schedules and productivity, and spark social conversations that are being missed without direct face-to-face interaction?

Discovery + Design

Goals
We set out to validate or invalidate our hypothesis stated above. Although our hypothesis was not invalidated, our research showed stronger insights related to using Zoom for endless hours a day and how one’s environment impacts those feelings.

Methodology
We conducted 5 user interviews with our target audience through Zoom. All interviews were recorded (with participants’ permission) both on video and on the Otter transcription application. My team was comprised of one interviewer and two notetakers per session. The focus of our interviews surrounded users experience and feelings surrounding the platform, frequency of use, the way they used the platform, pain points, and more.

From there, we moved on to our data synthesis to identify themes.

Synthesis
We used affinity mapping to draw out themes and patterns. Although many users experienced frustrations with the Zoom platform, including connectivity, the overarching theme that emerged was that of video conferencing burnout. Users felt drained and frustrated at not being able to decipher a colleague’s expressions over remote communication. As a consequence, users feel less motivated and unable to pay attention for long periods. Users also stated it was difficult to separate work life and home life and that their environment impacted how they felt.

Insights + Findings
Remote workers struggle to stay motivated in their work from home environments and want a better way to stay productive and feel less drained.

Remote workers avoid using the same platform in online social settings and activities if possible due to platform burnout they experience during the work day.

Remote workers do not get the same benefit in online meetings as they do in person because of the inability to read the room all at once.

Persona
Based on our insights, we built a user persona, Phil, the Product Manager, who represents our target audience. Phil is in his mid-thirties, a New Yorker, and a manager at an app development company with 8 direct reports. He uses Zoom for most of the day and struggles with connectivity. He wants reliability with Zoom for his meetings, a more fulfilling experience for larger video conferences and a way to reduce burnout.

Research-Backed Problem Statement
Through our insights and understanding of our persona, we needed to update our problem statement so it was backed by research, not assumption. Our new problem statement is as follows:

Remote workers find it difficult to stay engaged while working from home given the lack of distinction between home and work life environment.

As a result, Phil has work from home burnout and finds it difficult to keep his team motivated and on schedule given the amount of daily distractions they encounter at home.

How might we provide work from home professionals a way to get away from the distractions of home during their workday?

RESEARCH +DESIGN

To solve for burnout from Zoom usage during COVID, we designed the “Find Workspace Near Me” Zoom navigation and rankings feature. The feature enables users on Zoom to locate nearby areas using their current (or desired) location to find a safe/rarely trafficked, quiet, and work friendly workspace with a stable internet connection. The feature allows users to see another’s ranking of workspaces nearby, the peak foot traffic time, and distance. In addition, the feature directly connects to their preferred navigation application.

Lo-fi Sketches + Usability Testing

Our early ideation consisted of lo-fi sketches of 5 Zoom mobile screens with minimal text, which we used to build our lo-fi prototype. We tested 5 users using our Figma prototype over Zoom with participants sharing their screens, while we took notes and distributed an ease of use survey at the end.

Takeaways
Users found the feature useful but experienced a disconnect between the task and mentally making the connection that Zoom could be used to help them find something. Our feedback also mentioned issues with locating the “Find My Workspace” feature as well as issues with the naming of the feature. Participants also stated they would like for workspaces to be ranked by other users of the feature using stars and potentially reviews.

Mid-fidelity Screens
Based on user feedback, we designed our mid-fi screen flow (see below) with our user feedback in mind. We changed the name of the feature to “Find Workspace Near Me” so it was clear it was geolocation-centric. Additionally, we created another happy path on the home screen with the feature prominently displayed in the middle so users wouldn’t miss it. A map and compass icons were included in the happy path so it was clear the feature was a search and location tool. A ranking system using stars that filtered results by highest ranked in addition to proximity was also added.

Mid-fi Usability Testing
In our second round of usability testing, 5 users tested our Figma prototype over Zoom with participants sharing their screens, while we took notes, timed their task completion, and distributed an ease of use survey at the end. Users still encountered issues with grasping how a platform like Zoom could be used as a location tool. In addition, they thought geo maps were too large and said fonts used for details on the results page were illegible. Users also wanted results to be filtered by proximity first, followed by ranking. Other issues users encountered included calls to action being mistaken for buttons and misleading icons; the task prompt and the computer workspace icons on the interactive map led them to believe that they were looking for indoor, rentable office space instead of a quiet, COVID safe, outdoor space.

Takeaways
Despite the initial confusion, all users indicated that they would use the feature when working in an unfamiliar location during the pandemic and even after the pandemic to help locate indoor workspace.

Next Steps
We recommend doing another mid-fi design round to address the issues outlined. We would then recommend another round of user testing and review results from there as the feature does seem to have value to our users based on the feedback we received. It does, however, need to be refined to create an enjoyable user experience.

Takeaways
Users found the feature useful but experienced a disconnect between the task and mentally making the connection that Zoom could be used to help them find something. Our feedback also mentioned issues with locating the “Find My Workspace” feature as well as issues with the naming of the feature. Participants also stated they would like for workspaces to be ranked by other users of the feature using stars and potentially reviews.

Mid-fidelity Screens
Based on user feedback, we designed our mid-fi screen flow (see below) with our user feedback in mind. We changed the name of the feature to “Find Workspace Near Me” so it was clear it was geolocation-centric. Additionally, we created another happy path on the home screen with the feature prominently displayed in the middle so users wouldn’t miss it. A map and compass icons were included in the happy path so it was clear the feature was a search and location tool. A ranking system using stars that filtered results by highest ranked in addition to proximity was also added.

Mid-fi Usability Testing

In our second round of usability testing, 5 users tested our Figma prototype over Zoom with participants sharing their screens, while we took notes, timed their task completion, and distributed an ease of use survey at the end. Users still encountered issues with grasping how a platform like Zoom could be used as a location tool. In addition, they thought geo maps were too large and said fonts used for details on the results page were illegible. Users also wanted results to be filtered by proximity first, followed by ranking. Other issues users encountered included calls to action being mistaken for buttons and misleading icons; the task prompt and the computer workspace icons on the interactive map led them to believe that they were looking for indoor, rentable office space instead of a quiet, COVID safe, outdoor space.

Takeaways
Despite the initial confusion, all users indicated that they would use the feature when working in an unfamiliar location during the pandemic and even after the pandemic to help locate indoor workspace.

Next Steps

We recommend doing another mid-fi design round to address the issues outlined. We would then recommend another round of user testing and review results from there as the feature does seem to have value to our users based on the feedback we received. It does, however, need to be refined to create an enjoyable user experience.