The software company Atlassian, already a major player in the enterprise technology game with its applications like Jira, Confluence, and HipChat, has released a new collaboration platform for employees and teams called Stride, to compete with existing products like Slack. Kerry Flynn at Mashable describes Stride as “all about taking action”:
It cuts down on notifications by letting users put themselves in a “Focus Mode,” and it makes it super simple to switch from text to video. The design is mobile-friendly and easy to use, not unlike its competitor Slack. But it offers features that make it arguably a better product than Slack for actually getting work done. …
One of the core features is letting users set themselves as away. That feature is available in competitors, such as Slack’s emoji statuses, but Stride allows users to actually mute specific channels, share what they’re working on, and more easily catchup once they’re done. … Any room in Stride can start a meeting and allow any user to join in via audio or video. It eliminates the need to move to Google Hangouts, BlueJeans, or another third-party video system and can encourage people to switch to video more often.
Steve Goldsmith, general manager for Stride at Atlassian, tells GeekWire reporter Tom Krazit that Stride is integrated with Atlassian’s other software products and will be available in both free and paid tiers with different features:
Contrary to the myth of the “queen bee,” professional women help each other succeed all the time, and in male-dominated workplaces, that kind of support can be crucial to getting ahead. The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin highlights a particularly interesting example of this in the White House, where the women of the Obama administration have made a concerted effort to ensure that their voices are heard—and that their male colleagues don’t step on or take credit for their ideas:
When President Obama took office, two-thirds of his top aides were men. Women complained of having to elbow their way into important meetings. And when they got in, their voices were sometimes ignored. So female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.
“We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,” said one former Obama aide who requested anonymity to speak frankly. Obama noticed, she and others said, and began calling more often on women and junior aides.
The White House women have also pushed for more representation and inclusion over the course of Obama’s presidency—and have made significant progress to that end:
One of the biggest downsides of the open office is that it lends itself to distraction: The lack of private, quiet places to work independently can be so detrimental to productivity as to outweigh whatever boost the open plan provides to employees’ creative and collaborative energies. For introverts, this borderless workspace is doubly detrimental, and it is with this in mind that the Economist makes the case for more peace and quiet in the office:
The biggest culprit is the fashion for open-plan offices and so-called “group work”. Companies rightly think that the elixir of growth in a world where computers can do much of the grunt work is innovation. But they wrongly conclude that the best way to encourage creativity is to knock down office walls and to hold incessant meetings. This is ill-judged for a number of reasons. It rests on a trite analogy between intellectual and physical barriers between people. It ignores the fact that noise and interruptions make it harder to concentrate. And companies too often forget that whereas extroverts gain energy from other people, introverts need time on their own to recharge. …
Sara Bean at Workplace Insight highlights the findings of Dell and Intel’s latest Future Workforce Survey, which found that “nearly half of global employees believe their current workplace is not smart enough, while 42 percent of millennial employees say they are willing to quit their job if technologies are not up to their standard”:
According to the poll of nearly 4,000 full-time employees in ten countries, over half (57 percent) believe they will be working in a smart office within the next five years, while 51 percent believe that better technologies will make face-to-face meetings redundant within the next five years. The research shows that the influx of new technology is having a significant impact on what workers expect from their employer, and that workplaces which don’t enact these new advances will be left behind. …
This expectation is highest amongst the younger workforce, with 69 percent expecting to be in a smart office within the next five years. The consequences for not meeting these expectations is also greater for the millennial workforce, with 42 percent saying they would quit a job with substandard technology and 82 percent saying workplace technology influences what role they would take. Further, a majority of workers place an emphasis on functional benefits with 63 percent of millennials and 55 percent of older workers (over 35 years old) indicating they would rather have high tech perks, such as augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) and Internet of Things (IoT) than low-tech perks like ping pong, free food, etc.
Some of these smart office features are closer to becoming (virtual) reality than you might think—and instead of making face-to-face meetings redundant, they might just redefine “face-to-face.” At Fast Company, Stephane Kasriel peruses at some of the VR technologies already in the works to enable employees to hold virtual “meetings” over long distances:
Earlier this week, Accenture’s France-based CEO Pierre Nanterme appeared live by hologram at a meeting of 500 of the company’s top executives in Chicago. The Washington Post‘s Jena McGregor notes that Nanterme wasn’t the only one beaming in from afar either:
At the same time, the professional services firm’s human resources chief, Ellyn Shook, was beamed in from New York, and the resulting three-dimensional “holograms” of the two executives chatted with each other about things like the company’s new performance reviews and recent acquisitions, while answering questions from the audience.
It was the second time Nanterme had appeared before employees via hologram, and the first time the company had simultaneously beamed in two executives to an event at the same time. The company says it has built seven studios with the capacity to capture holograms across the globe, and plans to expand its use.
Here’s what it looks like:
Of course, the sophisticated technology needed for this type of communication isn’t cheap, and it’s taken years for Accenture to build out the capability. So why go through all the trouble? McGregor explains:
Metcalfe’s Law, a fundamental principle of telecommunications attributed to Ethernet co-inventor Robert Metcalfe, holds that the value of a network grows quadratically with the number of connected users, because the number of connections increases proportionally to the square of the number of nodes: A network of two telephones provides just one connection, whereas a network of 1,000 telephones creates 4.5 million connections and is thus dramatically more valuable.
Yet there is a “dark side” to Metcalfe’s Law for businesspeople, Bain & Company partner Michael C. Mankins writes in the Harvard Business Review, because more and cheaper communication means more of your time spent on the phone, in the inbox, and in meetings. The number of external communications executives receive each year has skyrocketed from a few thousand in the 1980s to tens of thousands today, while the average organization now spends 15 percent of its collective time in meetings. Mankins also references our own findings that the increasing number of people involved in everyday business processes has driven up the amount of time those processes take. Overall, he calculates that when you take out the time sucked up by meetings and communications, most managers only have a few hours a week left for other work.