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Bringing the human element to remote work, making it less transactional and more personal
Bambi Francisco Roizen interviews Daniel L., CEO of Nooks. Nooks is a virtual office that replicates the real-life atmosphere of working together in-person.
Here's some takeaways...
--- Working on machine learning at Scale AI (internship). Class of 21 at Stanford. As a result of Zoom, I finished my internship remotely. The difference in culture at work and in the university were stark pre-COVID and during COVID that the idea to bring the human element online became apparent.
--- In a virtual world, the experience is impersonal and inhuman. Work slows down and is less engaging and rewarding. Tools like Slack and Zoom were built before the pandemic for purposes of collaboration. But not built to solve the missing human element.
-- There’s explicit and implicit communication that happens in person. You get an intuitive sense of when they’re available to talk (e.g. they’re standing by the water cooler).
-- Culture changing as a result of physical isolation meant context was lost.
-- The pandemic accelerated trends already happening. The shift to distributed remote and hybrid work was already happening. But having this forcing function - everyone experienced benefits (spend time with family, work when you’re most productive and there’s been increase in employee productivity) but the drawbacks (moving slow because there’s friction in communication, loss of serendipitous moments). There are drawbacks to full remote work, but at the least, people have seen the benefits of remote work.
-- What does the platform do well? It’s important for teams to be in sync. We help communication happen implicitly and explicitly. We’re focused on building the human connection and making it less transactional and more personal.
-- Talk about the different spaces you provide to create that human element. Customizable rooms: kitchen where people can have lunch together and have informal conversations; Bug bash room: where people can talk about code bugs. In each of these rooms, there’s context, such as: why are you there? What’s the tone and what are the tools being used (e.g. Github in the bug bash room).
-- With implicit communication you get social cues. So we also integrate what someone is working on. By increasing these social cues which are missing in the virtual environment, you feel like you’re with your team in the same room.
-- Teams using Nooks use it for several conversations a day 4 to 8. These conversations aren’t a fixed meeting, they’re more fluid. Nooks is a product that solves disconnection. So many people who bring Nooks into the team are managers seeking to solve problems for their team.
-- Nooks is free, but there will be a monthly subscription model in the future.
-- Safeguards around bad behavior? Nooks is not anonymous. Teams use SSO (so only teams can get on). There’s ways to kick someone who is misbehaving. There’s reporting tools to report someone misbehaving.
-- How do you replicate the missing human “touch” element that releases oxytocin? Feeling presence that aren’t transactional and connections that are more personal are a step in the right direction.
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