Essential UX for Remote Work Solutions
Honorary President, Hong Kong Information Technology Federation
Over the past six months, ”Work from Home” has become the new normal in Hong Kong. Francis Fong, Honorary President of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, said that companies have recently begun to experience the challenges and pain points of remote work. “People are used to being in the same space with their colleagues, and communication is considered to be direct and fast. Basically, you can find a colleague the moment you ask for him/her. The close working relationship originally has undergone major changes due to the pandemic. Suddenly changes to “Work from Home” makes it impossible for colleagues to know what the other party is doing and how the work progress is. As a result, companies used different channels including WhatsApp, video conferences and emails to communicate and monitor progress, and productivity is adversely affected.” But if companies can use the pandemic as an opportunity to learn to build new corporate culture through remote work, they may become a leader in the industry.
Francis pointed out that the user experience (UX) of a good remote working solutions should fulfill the following basic requirements:
To the management, reviewing working efficiency of employees through long online meetings is not the best idea. Taking Basecamp as an example, Francis notes, “Basecamp is a collaborative platform, and we can check the work progress through this kind of software.” This solution comes with a feature that allows users to share their comments on every message so that the co-creators can review these comments made by their boss or colleagues and know the specific instruction for the next move. When everyone takes the action as instructed, management efficiency will be enhanced significantly. In addition, the interface design of Basecamp allows users to check the execution status of every task, making it easier to monitor the overall progress.
Francis also believes that the ability to co-create the same project with colleagues from the same or different departments is crucial for remote working. He illustrates his point with Slack. Featuring a simple and user-friendly interface, Slack offers two different ways of communication: Channels and Direct Messages. With the interface similar to social media platforms, it encourages employees to interact on different topics and replaces the conventional top-down management and communication model. This solution has not only facilitates the collaboration amongst colleagues, but also stimulates much more creativity through brainstorming.
Albert emphasized that a good online learning & teaching tool / platform should be simple and easy to learn. The less time teachers spend in learning how to use the tool / platform, the more time they can spend on students. For some teachers, it is a big challenge for them to make teaching videos and and sharing them . Albert recommends Screencastify, a screen recording tool good for teaching video recording. It is easy to master for teachers of different subjects. Teachers do not have to spend time setting up additional cameras and recording equipment. They can simply use the webcam (or even without it) and the microphone of a laptop or a desktop computer. During the recording, teachers can teach normally like what they do in the classroom – using presentation software, browsing websites or playing videos. “They basically don’t need to spend extra time to learn,” said Albert. This tool can also enable teachers to share the recorded videos with students easily through other integrated platforms.
Unlike the traditional office environment, ”Work from Home” has changed the way colleagues build relationship with one another. Companies ensure to facilitate effective communication and operation with easy-to-use remote work solutions. While there are many video conference platforms, he thinks Zoom stands out with its usability. It is a highly user-friendly solution where general users can join a meeting without logging in, explore the simple and intuitive interface easily, and choose a virtual background to protect their privacy. Users can also start video conferencing without additional technical support.
For those who look for a solution designed for business, network security is one of the key considerations. Webex meets this requirement by providing video conferencing service protected by point-to-point encryption that ensures information and data security during meetings. Addressing the network security needs of the target user base, Webex’s video conferencing service is safeguarded by advanced security technologies, including the 128-bit digital certificate (SSL) and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), to further enhance network security.
Many users working remotely struggle with sharing documents, spreadsheets and media files with colleagues. Sometimes they have to keep switching between the video conferencing platform and the computer to look for documents to be shared with colleagues. If a platform can facilitate communication amongst team members and create a seamless experience of accessing and sharing files, it will save much time on searching files.
G Suite is a remote work solution that can connect to all features of the Google system, creating an all-in-one online work environment. It allows users to send and receive emails through Gmail, manage their personal schedules with the Google Calendar or convene a work meeting on the same platform. Users can also save, search and share documents, spreadsheets and media files through cloud storage, so that they no longer have to switch between different windows for operation the commands.
Francis thinks that “Work from Home” provides a good opportunity to establish a new corporate culture. Management can try to understand from a different perspective the communication and work processes amongst departments and colleagues through remote working solutions. The process can help encourage collaboration among colleagues, redesign suitable work goals, and even the communication methods. Employees can be empowered to work according to their own time and pace, and communicate more effectively to establish team rapport and collaboration capabilities. If a company can use a people-centric approach to understand employees’ capabilities and the operational process, and applies technology to make adjustments, Francis reckons that it can be one step ahead of its peers even under the pandemic.
Digital UX Hunt
Francis has shared five remote work solutions with good UX (in alphabetical order)：
Would you like to suggest any remote work solutions with good UX?
The Hong Kong Information Technology Federation was founded in 1980 as a not-for-profit, non-political trade association to provide a forum in which the IT-related business in Hong Kong can work together for the benefit of the industry and to maintain a high level of business practice amongst the member.