Feb. 7, 2023

2023 Digital Workspace Predictions: Better Late Than Never?

2023 Digital Workspace Predictions: Better Late Than Never?

It's February 2023, and we're finally getting around to making our predictions for the year. Who needs timely content anyway? Join us as we delve into the world of digital workspaces and attempt to predict the future with our crystal ball... or just our slightly outdated market research.

Will virtual reality finally take over the office? Will the metaverse replace video calls? And most importantly, will we finally have flying cars?

Tune in for a look at what the future holds for the digital workspace. And if we're wrong, well, there's always next year.

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Ryan Purvis 0:00
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works Podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines. The problems they face, how they solve them. The areas they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took, they will help you to get to the scripts with a digital workspace inner workings.

Heather Bicknell 0:30
How are you?

Ryan Purvis 0:31
Very good. Thanks. Very good. What are we today? Tuesday, I'm travelling to see my dad on Thursday for his birthday and take him away for the weekend. So that should that's going to be fun. And other than that, just managing time zones, I had to set a meeting yesterday that I had to take into account five time zones. Four those time zones, no, three of those time zones were in the US. Yeah, that was, that was fun. And it's one of those things was like, if you remember, Cortana was going to do that for you for a while you could you could include a Cortana and email, then she would walk, she would get involved to get everyone's availability and all that stuff. And I used it once. And I was thinking about it when I was doing this time zone booking like imagine that we had an AI that could just do this for us. But then I remember the Cortana. And this experience I had and it was terrible. I never heard back from Cortana on the meeting, when I invited her. And the people that weren't, I'd asked to sit up with got like 100 emails. So it was a complete mess. And they just didn't want to they just didn't want to meet. And I always wanted to ever happen to them to like three months later, where I emailed them as they would have ended that meeting, like no, you spammed us with like a whole 100 like 100 emails and to arrange a meeting, so we decided that you were too busy and and we didn't want to be to the like now that that wasn't me, that was Cortana. So we went back to the old fashioned way in and now use Kennedy, which works for 99% of the time.

Heather Bicknell 2:11
Yeah, right, trying that Cortana virtual meeting assistant as well, I'm having trouble getting it to work correctly. I think a challenge can honestly be people booking their calendars with sort of optional things or like locking focus time or you know, whole weeks can be booked. So if you're like truly trying to find a free time for everyone, you might be like, a month out, which is not practical. So you still have to have the human element of coming together. Okay, like, can anyone read this or that? Do you need to be at that meeting, they add the amount of hours. We spend a week on leaving scheduling, it's a little frightening. I do wish we had better AI for that.

Ryan Purvis 3:02
Yeah, and your people do fill out and it's not a it's not wrong either to fill your diary with with time. But I also think part of the problem is having too many meetings that you don't need. And some people like me will book their diary, like I've got to book my diary between five and seven where we are now because that's when my kids come home. And you know, it's the only time I'll get to them to they're going to school. So I want to spend some time with them. Someone who, you know, did dinner with them and bath them and all that stuff. Because normally by sit at seven o'clock, I got a call. And that's only when they go to bed. So you've got to get that timing otherwise, you never see them. And unfortunately, I've had this last week where a few people have had to use that slot. And it's disruptive because you know why you're on the call kids coming home and they're used to seeing you. So now you've got to still break out of the call and go talk to them anyway. So yeah, I mean, you're gonna find what works, I guess.

Heather Bicknell 4:00
Yeah, it's really tricky with the multiple timezones saying, I think people you sort of end up exchanging, who draws the short straw in terms of like, hey, it's a really early meeting or, you know, in your evening, there's not not a lot of ideal things for synchronous call.

Ryan Purvis 4:23
No, and I've been playing with otter as a well, the offering that have you now that the otter can join your meeting, it'll transcribe the meeting, and send you an email afterwards of the main topics. And then it's supposed to do some other stuff, which I haven't seen it actually do, like pull out the action items and that sort of thing. But that part's still seems to be manual, like you still need to go through the transcripts and call out the actions, which I suppose is fine. If it's a short meeting, and I like a three hour meeting the other day, I was hoping that it would just pull out the main points and the action As and didn't even pull up, pull out the main points, right, like a point pull that all the wrong things and made them as the as the outline. So yeah, that's the other problem with the these tools to try to help with meetings is there's still a need to have a manual intervention. But what was useful about that as that is, the reason why we're not up is I couldn't make a meeting on Friday because we had something personal come up. So I just said to the guys that have the meeting, and I'll watch and just record the video. And because I got the transcription emailed to me, by by Otter, I knew what had happened the meeting. So by the time I watched the video, we just watched, I already had a gist of it. So I can actually speak through it, you know, to EXPEED, and then just skip along. Because the transcription was there. And I see the team's doing that now, as well and also transcribed a meeting for you when you click record, which I think is quite good. So, you know, I think that these are, these are ways to maybe cut down meetings, for the sake of meetings and have more, or at least at that meetings where everyone has to be there, versus having just the people that can make it. And then also, if you do need to have a meeting and because you can't really, you know, somebody was missed from the last meeting, unless you got the transcriptions now on the videos available to you they can be processed and give you some of the same points to when you last met and what you discussed. But I still haven't seen the one I think there's filament, which is the other one that's supposed to pull out the the actions, because that's really what you want, is the actions.

Heather Bicknell 6:39
Yeah, absolutely. I think this is a good transition point, actually into talking about some 2023 digital workplace trends, because I do see one around sort of refining remote work processes. And I think what that mean, will look different to every organisation. But I think meetings are a big part of what that refinement could look like, whether that's no meeting Fridays, whether that's, you know, we don't have meetings longer than this amount. I can't remember what company it was. But one just like, cleared all of the recurring meetings off of their employees calendars and did some sort of forced break to try to cut down on the number of meetings and sort of do a hard reset. So whatever it looks like, I do think we'll see more of that as sort of remote working goes from, you know, the state where we're just sort of needing to get it done figuring it out to okay, how can we make it better and actually address some of the pain points we all have kind of identified a lot over the past couple years,

Ryan Purvis 7:43
I was actually listening to one of our previous episodes, and we were talking about meetings, as well, funnily enough. And let's see what other episodes and it came up. And then I went into another episode about some it was like we're a fast acting, brain scan machine. So basically, they were watching, they had they did a test. One was mom and mom and child staring at a blank wall, talking to each other. So you can imagine chairs on either side of a blank wall, and we knew each other. The other one was mom and child sitting across from each other on devices talking to each other with a separation. And then the last one was mum and child talking to each other directly. And they had this, this all the sensors on the brains on the skull, obviously imagery in your brains. And what they came out of that with is the moment that child there was had the wall between you had so partial of brain activity of multiple areas of the brain, mom and child talking to each other directly at the most like nine areas were engaged, and mom and child on the screens only in one area engaged. And what they were thinking is saying is that the reason that what they thought about that is even though you've got the cameras on and still talking to each other, there's quite a lot of stuff that you're not getting, from a stimulation point of view, obviously, a secondary level that you're not really aware of or unconsciously aware of. It's unconscious, you're not aware of it. And what that means is that you're using a lot more energy to engage what they think is what you do because it's video to for your brain to compensate for what it's not getting. So because it's only got one area that's far it's off, it's all centred on an area and that area I think had most of the most activity whereas the people that were in the other scenarios had more feedback. So they had they had a much better say like to load with the load was spread more. So So what they thought was the Zoom fatigue remember zoom fatigue from from days of I can't remember exactly all the stuff but basically The thing is that your brain, your body needs certain information when you when you talk to somebody, and it doesn't get that, that it has to try and fill the gaps and then only use this as a portion of the brain. And that's why people get tired. That what they're saying just don't need to have the face to face time and all that stuff, which which we know is completely true. The why this was interesting for me is, if you think about where the metaverse is going, well this whole metaverse is interesting, which is going quiet again, but the idea that you'd be more present, be interested if they did the fourth test, which is, now you're in a virtual environment, wearing all the kit, and they do the same measurement of the brain. But now you physically use a virtual world talking to each other, do you get the extra stimulation that you need? Because the people that that in the first few cases, didn't say they were tired at the end of the conversation. Whereas the people on the on the on the screen calls did say they were tired? I'll try to find the audio for their comment. But who had it they might have been on skeptics guide to the universe?

Heather Bicknell 11:07
Well, no, that sounds incredibly interesting. And that's exactly where my mind went as well to wonder if they repeat the experiment in a Metaverse environment or even like the Microsoft team sort of AR experience, would that do anything different? Because I think in terms of like compelling signals that will push companies to adopt this kind of technology, I think, you know, studies that show that it's more engaging and effective would actually go a long way to proving some, you know, greater value of experimenting with this kind of work tech. Yeah, hopefully, that kind of research is is happening. I mean, I'm sure a bunch of research is being done by meta and Microsoft and others to try to find like, you know, scientific evidence for some of these things as well. So maybe we'll see that in the coming year. And even.

Ryan Purvis 12:06
Yeah, yeah, look, I mean, I remember seeing a stat someone you know, that what they say about stats, you know, 90% of them end up on the spot. But I do remember reading some way, that something about in a survey of employees in 2022 93%, said they would rather not go back to the office. And then they broke that down into how many percentages of that were being forced to go back? And how many were given the option? And how many were given complete flexibility. It was like I was about a third, a third, a third, give a take on each of those categories. And then of the ones that were being forced back, they asked how many were how many were motivated to work, like, like, motivated, like, you know, were you happy with the idea or that kind of stuff? How many were were willing to do it, because, you know, that's what they had to do. But they were, they were kind of going to adapt as they went, and how many were looking for another job. And it was like, 100%, we're looking for another job. There was like, no one who was motivated by being forced back to the office. And then the other splits were, were a little bit more even. Because, you know, hybrid kind of made sense for their business anyway. And then the flexibility was, like 100%, motivated, do whatever you want. Now, that's always the always a lot of things are always taken from the employee point of view, not necessarily from the leadership or what the business wants, per se, which I think, you know, they need to have that to give it a bit of thing. But I think if you find the balance, where you can do a live level of in person with a level of just what we're doing now just a camera and a conversation, and then having this this virtual environment. And you think mostly, like training environments, and that sort of stuff. I think he would be probably fine people would be quite quite into that. Because there's a level of of doing some virtual environment, you could dress how you need to dress appropriately. You know, there's a level of of bundling, as we obviously talked about the general person that we obviously people won't fun to it, want to do, because it'll make them seasick or all that sort of stuff. But, you know, I think the proliferation proliferation of this stuff would be interesting. As a fourth option to, to working

Heather Bicknell 14:31
hmm, yeah, would be I am, you know, I'm curious with some of those polls around the, you know, back to office type initiatives, and we'll start to see more organisation sort of forcing that this year because obviously another huge trend is the need to do more with less cost cutting sort of thing. recession guarding, that every organisation is looking to do right now. And it's we're sort of in this interesting scenario, and I only know the unemployment rate in the US. So I don't know how sort of international this is, but unemployment really, really low. But then you also see sectors like tax that are obviously doing massive layoffs about unemployment be more on the sort of front line are obviously not evenly distributed across industries. So what that could do is give employers more, you know, I think for a couple years, the sort of Baton of control or power or influence has been more in the employees hands, as employers just need to attract and engage scarce talent. But now, I think particularly in sectors like tech, we might see organisation start to not offer as inflated of salaries, or, I don't know, inflated the right word there. But you know, kind of dial back. So what they've been doing the last few years because they can, I would not be surprised if we, if we saw that is another trend.

Ryan Purvis 16:14
Yeah, I mean, if I look at I think well, who was it was alphabet, just just let go 12,000 people, obviously Twitter, we know about selling a whole lot because of what Musk is doing. And I was, if you look at Apple, Apple's never letting never got rid of a whole lot of people. You know, the last time they did a big purge, was when Steve Jobs came back, to turn it around, which which tells you about the leadership, Tim Cook, to be honest, because he was leading by and save jobs in two that are over employeed. And I can only think that all these tech layoffs are just over employment. And not that this is a bad thing, it was probably a really good reason, there was probably a lot of a lot of projects, a lot of initiatives. And there was going to be a natural contraction at some point. And if you look at how the amount of startups that have that have taken off, you know, when when I remember quite clearly when Citrix was no people, there was a lot of people on my LinkedIn profile, saying, Well, don't worry, here are the 150 startups that are hiring right now. And those are still going off. And I'm still seeing big numbers of startups, hiring. And I think you're right in the sense that the salaries may not be the same that for a lot of their startups, because they're probably early stage ones, or early stage businesses. So you know, the first couple of years, you will get the big salary, but you've got to get equity. If you're willing to do that, then in the technology field, you'll be good. I still think in the in the sort of more normal businesses, you know, banking, or let's say financial services, insurance, mining, etc, this will work, this will be the sudden need for people to come in and do stuff. But there's there had to be a natural contraction anyway. But COVID did, obviously its thing and accelerated a lot of that stuff. But I just think some of these companies with just over over hiring. And so when I'm thought, like in the UK, for example, and I can't remember the employment rate is there, we saw quite a big shift when they brought in IR35. Because IR35 basically turned Hold on one person companies, which were contractors into employees. And typically, what would have happened is, is a company would have hired a contractor for a period of time, use them to do something, and then let them go. Because they, you know, they're contractors. But now they had to hire older people, because they were, because the whole thing about IR35, which is the tax thing was you're basically treated as an employee, which aren't employees, so you're not paying the same tax that you should be as an employee. That's like the gist of it. And what you're probably finding specifically in the UK, and the US has the same laws, is these companies would hire a whole lot of people because of that. And now that now they're gonna get rid of them, because they would have got rid of them as contractors and not have the rigmarole in letting them Go, because as a contract you to say look, a context not be renewed, sorry. But as an employee now to now treat them as employees and you know, do the old termination processes and that kind of stuff. And I think that's probably what you're seeing in some of that sort of backlash specifically in the UK. I don't know about but the US, but I did see quite a big percentage in the UK in the UK posts that I've seen, so that's probably why things happened.

Heather Bicknell 19:39
Interesting. Yeah, as far as I know, there's no federal law like that, but it's always possible. You know, California tends to be more progressive on that kind of legislation. And that's obviously where a lot of the big tech companies are located in the Bay Area, so it wouldn't surprise me. You know, they if they were reacting to, you know, any legislative changes there too. But I think obviously the line from a lot of the big CEOs, you know, Zuckerberg and others has been, we sort of made we miscalculated, right? We thought we would keep growing and you know, things have slowed down. So we made an error there? Yeah,

Ryan Purvis 20:21
yeah, I think that I think that's just whatever, I'm not going to select him. I wasn't in the room when they made those decisions. But I mean, suffice to say, if you look at look at share prices of companies just looking at Zoom, zoom was was about $500. At one point during COVID, I think it's about 250, or something like that, you know, dropt drastically. There was no way that a lot of these technology companies would have seen the same growth as they got during COVID After COVID and about the main lock downs and whatever. So they're hiring up with expectation that it would stay like that, you know, probably wasn't realistic. But that's just, you know, it's easy to say that in hindsight, to be fair, I do need to go.

Heather Bicknell 21:06
Okay, yeah, no problem. Have a good week then

Thanks, you too.

Ryan Purvis 21:15
Thank you for listening to today's episode. Hey, the big news app producer, editor. Thank you, Heather. For your hard work on this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes at the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DW W podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website www.digitalworkspace.works. Please also visit our website www.digitalworkspace.works that works and subscribe to our newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends or colleagues.