Should You Zoom?

Zoom gained attention almost overnight because of the extended health-related lockdowns. As everyone had to work from home, companies with investments in Microsoft365 or GSuite perhaps already had communication solutions that could be tapped for running video and audio meetings. Their usage increased as people figured out ways to collaborate and talk.

Zoom gained because it seemed intuitive to use. It offered the it-just-works promise. You could create meetings with external partners, friends, social contacts without needing a per-user license of the solutions mentioned above. Another thing it offered was the ability to have a free 40-minute meeting each time. If you want a more extended session, then there are workarounds, or you pay for one of their plans.

So enterprises who preferred face to face moved to this service. Educational institutions conduct classes over zoom even as they contemplate whether they need longer-term investments. People evidently have liked this service.

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Sound Choices

Neat open-plan offices, Flexi seating, cool-sounding meeting rooms and cubicles have given way to home chairs, dining tables and all the innovative ways people are trying to make workspaces in their own homes.

Impromptu spaces mean impromptu sounds. The sound of the children playing, cooking sounds and more. Sounds that distract but still essential to keep track off. You know them too.

Reduce sound distractions while working
Noise-cancelling headsets were once sold for enhancing the beauty of melody by removing distracting ambient noise. The use case for noise cancellation today is to strengthen the focus of work in offices or homes by reducing ambient sound. So maybe Microsoft was onto something when they launched their productivity-focused headphones in some markets. Most reviewers were quite unsure who the user might be. Similarly, the Transparency mode within AirPods Pro allows you to manage ambient sounds around you.

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Work at Home and the Reality of Connectivity

Fibre connections that provide high-speed internet access are mostly available in large commercial districts. At the same time, residential zones in most cities have limited fibre availability or even adoption. Which is why at home people make do with 4G LTE variety of mobile connectivity. Many areas where people live also have inconsistent infrastructure and service resources.

Today, work from home is a necessity for the foreseeable future leading to reduced data requirements in offices and higher in homes. With more people at home right through the day, the nature of the service plan would likely need to change. The internet is needed for work, for school and for entertainment. Children now have online classes and multiple family members who would otherwise be in their office are now using home connectivity at the same time. People are also consuming more data just for streaming entertainment. Mostly extended higher quality streaming usage by more members of the family. Network pressure is such a significant challenge that several streaming providers have now been requested to downgrade the quality to SD level in India. Europe has made similar requests to these companies as well. 

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Digital Whiteboards

Writing on the wall yet? For those of us who love whiteboards and markers to build ideas, plans and to connect the dots with colleagues, it must be a significant change to be working from home.

The absence of markers and the physical space of the meeting room makes for a distorting change in workflows. But the digital realm has some good options for you to explore.

Microsoft Whiteboard is available for users of Office365. You need corporate IT to activate it for you and your colleagues. There are apps for Windows and iOS. It is available in the browser. While it lets you draw free form, you can also add images and notes. The iPad app also features templates for Persona Builder, Problem Solving and together with Apple Pencil make for an efficient collaborative solution. More importantly, sharing your whiteboard within Microsoft Teams is just a matter of adding a tab.

If you and your colleagues work on strategy frameworks like Business Model Canvas or working on service blueprints and more, then you should look at Miro. You can choose from a lot of out of the box templates and invite your colleagues to work on the project dashboards. Or work on an empty canvas in a free form mode.

Written for Futurescape