Enhance human collaboration in
open-plan shared workspaces
Roam is a crowdsource platform that helps employees in open-plan workspaces relocate to private/quiet locations, giving them the flexibility to move between open and closed environments seamlessly.
(interviews and surveys)
My Role: UX Researcher, UX/UI Design Support
Team: Aimee Wu, Ashwin Srinivas, Shreyas Gowda
Tools: Figma. Excel. Taguette, Usertesting, Qualtrics
Duration: 9 months, Sept 2019 - Jun 2020
In 2019, I came in contact with a principal design research manager through LinkedIn networking and she introduced me to Microsoft Modern Workspaces project opportunity. She wanted to bring a team to further Microsoft Modern Campus Initiative project to help them understand perceptions of the modern campus amongst the new workforce and present employees.
With parallel research efforts being conducted for modern campus projects, Microsoft was in the perfect place to bring in fresh perspectives and ideas. There was less clarity about the employee satisfaction with current workplace environments and their needs/requirements from the modern campus.
Open workspaces are widely adopted by tech companies for its cost effectiveness and teamwork encouraging perks. However, there are many issues that reduce workplace productivity.
Open-plan is an office floor plan that eliminates most private offices and meeting spaces.
Our objectives included a better understanding of social behavioral patterns in open workspaces, identify problems in the workspaces, discover potential new opportunities and validate/disprove assumptions and hypotheses held by our stakeholders. These assumptions and hypotheses were uncovered by literature review studies and brainstorming sessions with stakeholders.
For this opportunity, I decided to put together a multidisciplinary team and recruited data science and UI design specialists in my group.
I decided to follow waterfall model because of strict project timeline and transition to online collaboration model because of the Covid-19 crisis.
For the first phase of this project, we decided to conduct generative research with a focus on Millennials and Gen Z since they would constitute the workforce of the future, along with focusing on current open workspace employees to identify gaps in the present experiences.
Survey Study Details
We performed qualitative and quantitative analysis and synthesized data into research insights.
Main findings from primary analysis:
- Open workspaces affects workers with different job profiles and age groups differently.
- Non-managers found it harder to get access to private rooms which affected their work productivity and impacted collaborative effectiveness.
We identified three main barriers that workers in open workspaces encounter:
Due to time constraints, we decided to conduct concept testing before committing to one idea as there was no scope to do usability testing with the final design. We conducted an unmoderated concept testing wherein we showed users 5 concept storyboards and validated our devised solutions.
To what degree do the problems our designs aim to solve affect open office workers?
To what degree do our designs solve those problems?
Which design concept is best suited to move forward?
Conducting a comparative analysis of user response data, and creating a stacked column chart to communicate findings.
Validating the problem space and measuring the user’s perception of potential solutions.
Using Likert Scales and Ranking Scales to captures the user’s attitude towards concepts.
We used the agree/disagree satisfaction scale to understand the target audience's needs, along with the single choice response, to understand the user's most and least preferred design ideas. We asked open-ended follow-up questions to get a qualitative understanding of the user's choices.
We initially planned to use the ranking scale for the five ideas to get a comparative understanding of the user's choices but, we were not able to use the ranking scale due to the limited functionality of the tool in use: usertesting.com.
The visualizations were used to communicate the most preferred and least preferred concepts to the team along with the Verbatims to help the team understand the ‘Why’ behind the user’s selected choices.
The limitations were also documented. One of the assumptions of this solution is that all employees would have access to laptops and thus, the freedom of choice to switch workspaces in the office.
Because we are unable to work on laptops so this wouldn't be a problem solver for us. We have to be hard-wired at all times.
We moved forward with Lookup Private or Quiet Office Space because our users reported it as the most prevalent problem and recognized its 'no booking needed' as differentiating features.
Based on this research, I devised a problem statement for kickstarting the design efforts -
How might we help find quiet or private space for
non-managers in an open plan workspace so that they can work in less distracting environment?
This led to the design of Roam, crowdsource platform that helps employees relocate to private/quiet locations in runtime.
1. Current location information for reference.
2. Simple and quick options for easy actions and requires low cognitive load.
3. Result list with basic information if quick decision is needed to be made.
4. Crowd source feature that allows users to update the equipment situation when they deem fit to help provide the most accurate information for other students.
5. Equipment information to help users switch to workspaces that accommodates workers
every little needs.
6. Peak hours information to help users make plans and decisions.
VIsual design led by Aimee Wu
Halfway through this project, we faced a global pandemic that changed our interaction model with the Microsoft team that required us to update our communication medium and collaboration strategies. We also had to change our research strategy midway, instead of conducting moderated concept testing, we conducted remote concept testing to guide our design. Lastly, we were not able to conduct usability testing of the final design because the initial timeline did not incorporate the strategy changes caused by the global pandemic.
Our team will coordinate future efforts with Microsoft, presenting our research to the Modern Campus team and publishing research findings in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Conference.