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The future of work needs a new communication tool

May 05, 2020

Future of work
future of work
wfh
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I never thought we would be living in a world like this; commerce (in a brick and mortar format) is closed, schools have ceased their activities, companies have sent folks home and we all seem to only interact by some sort of digital tool.. No more cheeky social beer at the end of the day, no more family visits, goodbye to the mid-morning coffee with colleagues. The world is changing and I reckon it will be slightly different once we emerge from this situation.

This post marks the beginning of a series of posts about the future of work. I will try to share my point of view on how things might change and why, starting with a brief assessment of new communication tools out there.

Communication

Needless to say that the way we communicate is changing. This new state of affairs only comes to accelerate what the smartphone had cast on the human race; We are more online than ever, glued to a bright screen consuming and sharing information. The way we reach out to one another has changed and I hope it will change again. For the best, of course.

Many messaging, email and communication tools have been designed for continued online interaction, so people can constantly be on, available and able to respond in that minute. I personally love and hate that. On the one hand, I love the fact that I am able to quickly reach out to a colleague, customer service of my favorite brand or a friend. Within seconds my super urgent query is answered and my inquisitive restless mind jumps into the next super urgent thing. On the other hand, I hate when that happens to me and I have to drop everything that I am doing as that new notification burns through my screen and pierces my concentration.

This dynamic creates a false sense of productivity for anyone sending a message or email. More often than not, the query is very simple and the sender should have been able to figure out the answer for themselves. Meanwhile, this basic query creates massive disruption for the receiver who more likely than not is trying to get other stuff done. What’s more, is that this looks almost armful and, to be honest, I am totally guilty of spamming my colleagues with (almost pathetic queries) … like, every other day. I reckon that we totally fail to understand the implications of this when we are not at the receiving end of that message.

Unfortunately this will not go away and if this working from home situation is prolonged, this behavior will only be accentuated. Does this mean output is dead? Are we all going to be glorified email managers? I hope not, but there is a risk of that happening.

To better understand the future of communication I have tried to map some of the tools available out there, you can check them here, and I was very pleased to learn that the future of communication can and will be better than it is today.

📥 Email done the right way

Email can be time consuming and non value added. We are always receiving endless emails, that little red dot never seems to go away and it seems that we will never get a zero email inbox figure.

There are companies that will challenge and change that: Superhuman and Front give you a new email experience where you only need to focus on the urgent stuff. By filtering and automating most of the responses for you, that zero email inbox figure is a possibility.

Superhuman gives you relevant information about the sender, from LinkedIn to twitter, they claim “they got you cover”. They have a very nice and sleek design with great features, from unsent option to filtering capabilities that are powered by ML. Front enables you to easily integrate with your CRM, and is focused in automating your responses in order to manage, track and generate SLA’s from your team.

📌 All your communications in one place

Nowadays teams use several different tools and everyone seems to be juggling from app to app in a frantic messaging ping pong. Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool that would be able to centralize all your favorite communication tools? Look no further...

Centralizing all your communications tools: Nuffsaid and Quill were built with the idea to work smart and efficiently. They propose to centralize all your communication applications in one place, helping you to filter what is really urgent and act on it.

Quill enables you to invite anyone with just their phone number. You can create a channel where you invite your partners or customers while allowing your team to exchange notes, thoughts and tasks with them. Nuffsaid enables you to search through all your messages in one place. Can’t remember where that very important conversation took place? No worries, you can search it now.

🔌 Be connected, asynchronously

Always on and connected shouldn’t be the norm, asynchronous is the way forward: Threads and Loom are good examples of this trend.

Loom enables you to record a video that could be a product demo or a query around something. Say goodbye to lengthy emails, I guess anyone can be a corporate youtuber now. With Threads you are never late for that meeting, teams work on projects, in threads, whenever they have time to do so and you will never lose track of what was decided as decisions are highlighted and documented for posterity.

☝️ One more thing

With a growing concern on data privacy, it is very interesting to see companies like Mattermost designing a messaging solution where the user, in this case the company that uses them, will need to set up the database for their new messaging service. As a result they totally own their data.

These tools are really trying to transform the way we work together in a more efficient way, taking away the distraction created by communication tools that are driven by engagement metrics and not output.

Mapping the future of work

A month ago, I created a small directory of startups crushingwfh with the intent of helping anyone that is working from home. In my mind, this simple web app would be the cheat- sheet for everyone that is working from home. As such, it will need to have all possible tools and, as off now, you will find tools that could help you with:

Coding, or better, learning to code;

  • Collaboration;
  • Communication;
  • Design;
  • E-learning;
  • Kids,homeschooling;
  • Password Management;
  • Productivity;
  • Project Management;
  • Scheduling meetings;
  • Time Tracking;
  • Video Conferencing

This is a live directory and will morph and evolve over time. Anyone can add tools, if they feel they are missing, but more importantly you can download the tools here.

Gratitude reflection

I know that I am lucky to be able to continue with my life without too much disruption when compared to many that lost their jobs and can’t work from home.

It is a misleading cliche to think that this situation will treat everyone equally. Though most people complain, being able to work from home is really a luxury that only a few have. If you start to peel back the layers of this topic you will find that covid-19 has not only put a magnifying glass on inequality but also is entrenching inequalities further and unfortunately it will take time to repair the damage.

So as we sit here and try to optimise our productivity, this is probably also a good moment to think about how we can help those people who don’t have the same luxuries that we have.

I hope this is helpful and thank you for reading this far!


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