Future of Work: The Wrap-Up
Organizations around the world are figuring out what work will look like now and in the future. No one has the answer, but everyone is trying to crack the code to create the ideal work environment.
We’re wrapping up our Future of Work series, where we explored products that transform the way we work, collaborate, and communicate.
In this final episode of the series, we look back on our conversations with these trailblazing leaders:
- Chris Byers, CEO of Formstack
- Kate Donahue, Head of Product Marketing at Pitch
- Alexander Embiricos, CEO and Co-Founder of Remotion
- Dominik Zane, CEO and Founder of Around
- Paige Costello, Product Lead at Asana
We reflect on what we’ve learned and share some of the themes that stood out across conversations.
- The remote work tech stack is growing from “necessarily evil” products to products designed with users top of mind.
- Design for user delight, not just functionality.
- A rich set of tools can lead to a rich set of perspectives and personalities.
- Beware of tool overload. Consider your process holistically before adding a new tool.
- Open your mind to new products that could improve the way you work.
- Consider what the future of work could look like for your organization.
Meghan, I don't think that there's a hotter topic right now than talking about the future of work. Nobody has the answer, but everyone's trying to crack the code to create the ideal work environment, and I mean, it's like the virus goes away, and it comes back, people say they're going to open and they're not, so it's just a constant state of hybrid work. But, in-person, remote, distributed, hybrid, there's lots of new words in the vocabulary of how to describe the workplace. But that also means that like the tools are kind of influx to try to keep up with that. So we're going to wrap things up. In this series, we talked to Chris Byers CEO, Formstack, Dominik Zane, CEO, and founder of Around Alexander Embiricos, CEO and co-founder of Remotion, and then Kate Donahue, the head of product marketing at Pitch.
The tech stack for the future of work is changing. We know this. We're starting to move from these unnecessary evil types of tools like Zoom, to products that were built with the users in mind. So Alexander Embiricos because talked about this in his interview; scheduled meetings suck regardless of whether you're in person or remote, but the pain feels so much worse, and so much more acute when you're remote, because you have to schedule a meeting for everything. That's all you have.
Scheduled meetings suck whether or not you're in person. I think they're even worse when you have to use very immersive software that makes everyone's faces feel uncomfortably close, and you can see yourself as well, so you're looking in the mirror, and there's all this great research on how we can make that better. So I think there will be a class of software built just to make meetings less fatiguing. But fundamentally, I think the actual problem lies at a level deeper; it's like, when do we use video to talk? When do we talk live? And when should we? Because today we talk live through meetings, that's the default in remote, right? So in an office, what do I do if I want to talk to you? I'd probably just look over. Remotely, what do I do? I probably text you first and try to talk over text, then if 10 minutes later, and many interrupts in alt tabs later, I still haven't answered the question, I have a medic conversation about whether or not we should talk live, and then we decide to talk live, and then we schedule it, because we're in scheduled meetings while we're doing the texting, because we don't have any time to do anything else. And then we meet a day later. It's horrible.
The video experience is very important to us, but what we're really focused on is getting you into the video experience at the right times. The way that we think work should be is that people should spend a little less time texting, and a little less time in scheduled meetings. They should do more of their execution, actually, asynchronously undocumented, but then they should spend time together to be creative together, or to connect socially together.
And really, I think what Alexander talked about was a problem with uninspiring offices before, but meetings were also a problem. And then I think that, really, all of that just got worse with remote tools, but I love how he's trying to fix that with a new focus on really the context for the right type of work and Alexander wasn't the only one who mentioned this. Dominik Zane, the founder of Around mentioned the growth of the remote tech stack in his interview as well.
People are realizing that in order to be productive in a remote set up, we really now need to think about a variety of use cases, and the remote stack is much richer than just one meeting product. And so, you need a variety of tools; you're using asynchronous video like [inaudible 00:03:21], you're using Slack as a text communication, you're using Zoom for maybe interacting with vendors and externally, you're using Discord for team bonding activities. So people have come to realize, "Wow, we're using a rich set of tools for our company to be able to run, and operate and stay focused, creative, energized. And Around is, an addition to that, it's all about that new wave of collaboration, and really makers and builders that adopt Around think of it as augmentation of their creative and collaborative process. Not necessarily as a meeting.
So we're seeing this new rich set of tools kind of emerging, and it's tied to rich groups of people; so having different types of people with different working styles and personalities, they need all these different types of tools. But just like people, if you have too many cooks in the kitchen, it's not going to work out. So you need the right tools, and be careful of that tool overload. It's pretty natural to try to solve problems just by throwing tools at them, but you want to really prioritize quality over quantity, in this case.
One other theme we saw throughout this series was the emphasis on design. Not just designing for function, designing for delight. Kate Donahue mentioned this when she was talking about the early days of Pitch. Even before they had a product in the market, they were dissecting the design details and making sure they were building a presentation tool that didn't just work, but that made the presentation building process more delightful.
You use something like PowerPoint and Google Slides, and you don't necessarily feel the love from the team behind it. It doesn't really cater to your needs. It has a lot of features, it's not so guiding or opinionated to help you accomplish what you need to do really quickly and really confidently, so that there were people who, at the time I started to, we were already working with teams like MetaLab to really scrutinize the details of our early design. That they were so focused on that experience and really thoughtful having debates, really rich discussions about what you'd might, at first glance consider pretty trivial things. It was really exciting to me, especially in the case where a lot of product marketers, where you don't always get to work so closely with product teams, so being able to see that up close and being able to see the thoughtfulness driving every decision that they made, and how deliberate the product experience was shaping up to be, was super exciting.
Dominik Zane talked about this idea too, and how the focus on delightful design was so important to them, it was a part of their core culture.
Fundamentally, at the core of our culture and in our team, me and my co-founders have always had this passion for great design and just delightful software. And that's the kind of people we also hire at our company and in our own environment internally, really, the reflection or maybe vice versa actually; Around is a reflection of our internal culture. And so, that's like the people we are, that's what we care about, we love great user experience, and that's the spirit and DNA of over our own collaboration internally. And we want to show that passion and love in the product itself. And we obsess about all the little nuances and the details, and I think now with this really great software, or great products in general is, from my perspective, set of details. And so what we've decided was we're going to do a 100 details really, and we're going to care about all the little things. And that's what makes that experience very delightful.
So that's a wrap for a Future of Work series over the next few weeks, you'll hear Christian and I take on some interesting product topics while we gear up for our next launch. I'm Meghan.
And this is Better Product.
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