Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Meetings suck. Can we make them more fun?

Anne says: Jakkii introduced Facebook’s new “metaverse” meeting environment in virtual reality a couple of weeks ago in our Friday Faves. This article covers much of the same in the beginning (you can watch a short video with Mark Zuckerberg demonstrating it), then expands the topic into a review of other virtual reality meeting platforms.

My initial reaction to the title was: do we need more fun? (I had goosebumps remembering “fun” meetings from the 90’s – tree-hugging, jumping off cliffs, shoulder massages by colleagues… ewww). If meetings suck, shouldn’t we be asking: why are we meeting? What’s the purpose?

However, there’s some compelling research and arguments in the article that highlight why we need some fun – and they weren’t the ones you might expect! Beyond the Facebook entrant, there are a number of others – these seem to be funky tech ideas looking to engage young gamers. But, perhaps there’s something in that approach. While calling out Zoom fatigue as one of the problems to be solved, the underlying concept of using Zoom for specific types of meetings (and we can still do that a lot better), but accepting that the limitations are not enabling deeper connections and other ways of collaborating. Here’s the market potential for these new approaches.

There’s still some drawbacks, including one of the biggest challenges of VR, “wonky perception”, as the article refers to it. This took me back to a moment in a conference I attended in Second Life – it was super engaging, until I started to feel queazy and needed to excuse myself!!

As we grapple with hybrid workplaces and distributed teams, it’s encouraging to see the type of research being conducted into the challenges with meetings. How can we combine different technologies, different theories of interactions and collaboration to solve our current challenges with video conferencing? It’s not going to be easy, but we have to explore new ways of connecting to avoid the fatigue of always-on video conferencing. If you’re trialling anything like this in your workplace, we’d love to hear about your experiences.

Read: https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/09/08/1035081/facebook-horizons-oculus-zoom-fatigue/

And a bit of a Nudge

Anne says: Further to my Friday Fave on Nudge, you can now watch a recent conversation with Richard Thaler and our colleagues at University of Sydney, Sydney Business Insights that was recorded 24 August.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yR8ev2jzzX0

Let’s redefine “productivity” for the hybrid era

Jakkii says: The headline of this piece caught my eye quickly this week, as it’s such an important consideration in this mid-pandemic – and into our eventual post-pandemic – world: what does productivity really mean in 2021? What does it look like in the era of remote work, distributed teams, hybrid work? Does it, should it, include space for the intersection of our non-work lives, for caring responsibilities, for hobbies, for self-development and education, for time just to think?

This HBR article was authored by Jaime Teevan, chief scientist at Microsoft, who provides some context and background for the hows and whys of looking at redefining productivity from the Microsoft perspective, based on their own workforce as well as their broader research. From the article:

While it may be tempting to equate high levels of employee activity with success, doing so misses the factors that drive long-term, sustainable innovation. We must expand the way we think about productivity to focus on well-being, social connections, and collaboration and the innovation they bring to drive business success. (emphasis added)

I think it’s particularly interesting to see wellbeing and connections called out here, but when we think of these as factors involved not only in individual performance and in team performance but also more broadly in employee engagement and overall organisational culture, they start to seem kind of obvious as things we should be focused on when we’re assessing productivity.

The article then goes on to talk about “working” with this new definition, and offers some suggestions such as exploring with individual team members when, where, and how they feel most productivity and most able to complete their work and achieve their goals.

What the article doesn’t do, however, is discuss or explore how you might choose to measure productivity in the context of this proposed new definition. As the old saying goes, you can’t improve what you don’t measure. There are, of course, ways to measure employee wellbeing such as through pulse surveys and one-on-ones between leaders and direct reports, and use of technologies in the digital workplace such as enterprise social networks can even make it easier to measure things such as social connections through social network analysis based on platform use and analytics.

Overall, the suggestion for how we should expand our thinking about productivity seems logical and reasonable to me. But I’d love to hear from you – what do you think? Let me know in the comments here or on social media.

Read: https://hbr.org/2021/09/lets-redefine-productivity-for-the-hybrid-era

At home

Jakkii says: NSW might be backing away from their daily covid press conferences, but we’re not backing away from our weekly round-up of a few things to watch or do at home this week! Stay safe and stay sane!

Friday Fives

Hybrid workplace and the future of work

Remote work and the digital workplace

Communication, collaboration, engagement, and culture

Community management, moderation and misinformation

Privacy and data

Big Tech, tech and regulation

Bonus: Facebook announces launch of Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses

Social media

Extras

This is interesting: Minnesota’s ‘root beer lady’ lived alone in a million-acre wilderness

Things that make you go hmmm: Rain boots, turning tides, and the search for a missing boy

Space: The long-term quest to build a ‘galactic civilisation’

Podcast: Debunking UX research myths with Zach Schendel of DoorDash

Friday playlist: Take a trip to Estonia with this playlist of Estonian Folk


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