Jan. 25, 2022

Could the Xbox Be a Work Device?

Could the Xbox Be a Work Device?

This week, we discuss Microsoft's metaverse plays, writing at work, and four-day workweek experiments.


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Transcript

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 the series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines. The problems they're facing, how they solve them. The areas they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took that will help you to get to grips with the digital workspace inner workings.

Heather Bicknell 0:29
How's it going?

Ryan Purvis 0:30
Yeah, good. So I'm just so studies teams still cannot get, it fascinates me, it still cannot understand that I use certain audio devices in pairs. So I use the same audio device for listening and the same audio device for speaking. It's like, speaker, it's like device roulette

Heather Bicknell 0:54
as the one that it keeps trying to default to.

Ryan Purvis 0:58
So for example, if I connect my air pods to this, then my expectation is when I start the call, it'll use the airports. But what we'll do rather is it will mix up my speaker with my microphone on my laptop. Or if I haven't got my head, headphones connected, it will pick the Mac speakers with the speakerphone microphone, or the speaker, audio speaker, the speaker speaker with the laptop microphone, but never the combination that is the speaker is the speaker and the microphone, because that's what the thing is designed for. And only teams does this zoom problem, Google Chat or Google, whatever it's called Hangouts. No problem.

Heather Bicknell 1:46
Yeah, I've had that in the past. And I always wanted to connect to my external webcam, which technically have a microphone, but the audio that came through it, I guess they're super weird. So I got in the habit of manually checking devices each time. But that's no fun.

Ryan Purvis 2:06
Anyway, suddenly. So a couple things, probably to chat about. One would be this acquisition by Microsoft of Activision. Which is interesting. And then the other article that you sent me that and then I said, your article on remote work and the importance of writing. So I don't know if you've had a chance to read that kid.

Heather Bicknell 2:34
Yeah, but why don't we start with Microsoft? I think we can. I don't have a tie. It is interesting, but I don't think it'll take us that long to talk about, but we'll see.

Ryan Purvis 2:49
What are your thoughts first, if you have any, that I can share what I think about it?

Heather Bicknell 2:54
Yeah, well, I mean, it's the biggest acquisition in Microsoft history. So that's huge. What was it 60 billion, something like that? Maybe was

Ryan Purvis 3:03
70.

Heather Bicknell 3:07
I think it's interesting that they gave it a Metaverse spin. And I think I've seen some games journalists be skeptical of that. Because, you know, at the end of the day that making Microsoft, I think number three, in gaming, there's obviously a lot of revenue to be gained by taking the big titles and potential exclusivity for the Xbox. Obviously causing a lot of people. A lot of gamers to be unhappy with the thought that, you know, these big games could become Xbox exclusives, but I guess going back to more of the metaverse, which I think is more relevant to perhaps our show. I guess I can see where the metaverse tie in is with games like World of Warcraft or even Call of Duty any of these, like you're playing with other people online. There's an open world setting. I mean, it's kind of not too distant from fortnight, right in terms of the possibilities of how that aspect of the metaverse currently existing could evolve. So that's really all my thoughts about Yes.

Ryan Purvis 4:26
I think a lot of that is very valid. I think there was, you know, it was opportunistic purchase. Activision has great game provider it is has had some huge issues around sexual discrimination and internal issues in the business. I don't know much about that. I'm just reading for whatever and in the article. But I think in some respects, it's about attention. And Microsoft wants as many eyeballs on their stuff as possible and And I think gaming is still a very nascent industry. And I say that, you know, tongue in cheek, it's been around since the beginning of computing. But I think eSports and the like, are growing so quickly that they've got to have some of these big studios on their books, because they want to own those eyes. And they want to own those people that attention into the workplace as well. Because, you know, if you look at the way applications are changed, there's more and more applications that are web driven, and not requiring a desktop, per se. So they need to find ways to get that attention elsewhere. And I think games is one of those places. And it's about getting the, it's all about substance is about influence. Because a lot of a lot of gamers, I mean, there are adults that play games daily. But mostly most kids play games. And it's almost building that trust at the lowest levels to take them into. You know, you just trust Microsoft with all your stuff you buy, if you buy the Windows Surface, or whatever it's going to be in the future you get on the desktop, that Windows driven or metric driven. And you just trust that it's all gonna work and all that stuff. Now, practicality, all that stuff aside. I think that's that's the goal. I think there's a long way to go to tie all these things together. But I think it's also about making the Xbox, which they've been trying to do for years, the entertainment, but also not just the entertainment hub of the household, but also the workplace hub of the household. Because if you think about the spec of some of these machines, I mean a PS five and an Xbox. They're pretty high spec machines. And there's nothing stopping you from hosting, if you had the access a few virtual machines, or a virtual desktop environment or anything like that. To do stuff, and I wouldn't be surprised at some stage, if the BYOD device you had in your, for your for your work was the same device you use for your games was the same device used for your movies and your entertainment. But it's all modular branded. So next, it's following the apple model of owning the entire chain. So I think that's why this is interesting. For me. It's a long way from let's see where that goes. But that's prediction. That's the prediction.

Heather Bicknell 7:28
That's very interesting. I buy a mind immediately jumps to a situation where the parents on a virtual meeting and the child really wants to play on the Xbox and they're fighting over.

Ryan Purvis 7:42
But they don't have to that's that's what I'm saying is that you could have if you if you look at the way the games are deployed now. So they moved away from DRS, to to downloading the games on a hard drive. The had the streaming service for a while and then Google had this for a while, which I think stadia and it's called. All that stuff. You know, with 5g coming along, your your your delivery mechanism is so improved. You know, you could give your kid a tablet, you know, be an apple or whatever, and say go play again, because it's just going to go through the Xbox to the cloud. Yeah. So that's what I think's going to happen. And he and they all the Xbox is really doing this facilitating the the quality of service. So that knows as you're playing fortnight, for example, it's pre loading that content on the drive. And you just connect it to the tool that you want to connect through. Which would be at whenever it is, so I'm very interested when I go to be honest.

Heather Bicknell 8:46
Yeah, that will see big acquisition, big news.

Ryan Purvis 8:51
So just Just one last thought on the metaverse piece. I don't think it's the metaverse piece that everyone thinks it is with this acquisition. I think it comes back to that attention thing. And again, there's a lot of good if you look at the quality of a game nowadays and how realistic it is. And remember, we talked about how you'd have your avatar and you join a meeting and all that kind of stuff. It's about having that capability in house. So if you look at the old Xbox Kinect product, which I still think then was probably five years ahead of its time. That was a cancer. That was a camera that picked up all your movements in order for you to play a game. Yeah, how far are you away really from having a scan of your body with that camera? Joining a team's meeting with your avatar picking your outfit and sitting in your meter in your at your desk having a conversation using your Xbox in the camera.

Heather Bicknell 9:48
That is interesting. I haven't heard anyone talk about the Connect in connection to the metaverse but I can definitely see how that could tie in. Um, cuz a lot of these avatars if you only have like a, I think a normal camera No, no, I think the ones I've seen inside the virtual meetings I've seen have been ones with Oculus on. So you can see like really rudimentary hand movements, because they have the controllers, you have a connection that's reading your movement, you're not wearing all this gear, I could see how that would be a more comfortable virtual meeting experience.

Ryan Purvis 10:33
It's the one thing that I'm frustrated about now. You know, I've got a global team. I'm noticing now that they're not using their cameras. And to the point that I've always been cameras to use, and and I'm really looking forward to getting back to go to a couple face to face meetings and in talking to people and because they are now now that I've got into the flow with them, I'm feeling like this, that because we've been working so remote, they've gone into bad habits, and they're not their fault. But in order to break out those habits, I feel like this, having people around, talk about it and brainstorm would make those habits obvious. And we could as a group improve. And maybe you know, the option of having sort of a Metaverse view would be close to doing that, because I guys need 1000 UK guys in the US, and potentially guys here in South Africa, so I can't be in five places at once. Unless everyone's traveling together again. Which Yeah, it's possibly going to happen soon, you know, looks like COVID on its way out. And he says a serious virus. So we'll see. You know, I think this I think this is going to be very, very exciting space. That's Metaverse concept.

Heather Bicknell 11:50
Yeah, no. totally great. Lots of potential there. So with the want to talk about the importance of writing in the office, or for work, so I couldn't actually read, I only read the introduction, because it's a economist piece, and I don't have a subscription, we'll have to you have to give me the rundown on what the gist of the that article work.

Ryan Purvis 12:21
Don't worry, I also had the that version. It was actually more when I read the headline. And I started reading the thing I was like, I had a different interpretation. And interpretation is, you know, as much as I use technology, and I use technology as follows, I have a wife, I have my iPad Pro, I have my Mac laptop, and I have my phone. And between those devices, I use various tools to get stuff done. And one of the habits that I've gotten myself into is I use my iPad. As my as my note taking tool of choice, I make all my notes on it. But I actually write things down all the rest of it inside Apple notes. And that's and that's working fairly well, because I can have a meeting, I can open notes on any platform, I can see what we talked about. And I can sort of tie things together. What I've been noticing the last maybe two weeks is that I'm finding the as much as that stuff works for me, I'm finding when I have to do certain thinking that no matter how good my tools are, and my iPad has a special cover and to make it feel like you're writing on paper, and you actually can't tell the difference. It does feel the same. But what I'm noticing is I still prefer to go and take a piece of paper and a four and a three, go sit downstairs dining room table with a cup of coffee, and just draw pictures and my method and all the rest of it. And no tool no technology has has replaced that feeling of drawing something out stretching up a piece of paper and starting again. And I think and I think what what what this article was gonna maybe eat into what Lisa, I was getting into is that I still think there's a place for having your own time to sit and brainstorm. Which I think we would lose if we went back to the old way of working.

Heather Bicknell 14:26
Why would we do that? Because you're, you feel more pressured to not well show that kind of burger?

Ryan Purvis 14:38
Well, I think a couple things. One, if you go back to the old ways of working, a lot of people commute. So now you've taken away an hour and a half, let's say two hours a day, sometimes three on a commute. And you know my commute back in the UK. Very different to the community here in South Africa. But you might be on a jam train so you don't have the space to Right, you know, you're still on a track, yes, you might be, you might get a table and you might get a chair. And you can, you can write, but you're still going to be distracted by all the people around you, the stop, start of the train, you know, there's many things that put you off. Plus you in a game, if you do the same route every day, it's still a it's still a neutral environment. Whereas if you're sitting at home, you don't table you're comfortable, you're relaxed, you secure a cup of coffee, your cup of coffee, you sit and do it, I think that allows the juices to flow. And this is very subjective. Some would say if you went to the same coffee shop every day, you probably would build that same routine, and I think you could, it was outside your office. But so immediately one factor. The other factor that I'm seeing in while I think is relevant to this, if you're going into an office, you've got the pressures of getting to the office. So you're always you're gearing yourself up to get there. And there's a stress of arriving, etc. Once you arrive at the office, there's so many people around and so many things to do, and all the rest of it, that quiet time is very hard to get to, at least in most places I've worked with. And then if when you coming back, you know that that exhaustion of commuting is building up, that exhaustion of being stimulated all the time and be involved in it is building up. So by the end of the week, you're you're basically a blunt instrument, whereas you were a sharp instrument when you started the week. So I think there's got to be a balance, I'm not saying don't go to the office. I mean, there's, you know, I think there's a need for that, I think that's what hybrid working is what's going to happen, I did read a stat somewhere that it's going to move from 70% in the office to 30% in the office, that's going to be the the workforce, sort of ratio. And I think and I think it's these things that that'll play a part in it. And also, when you're working from home, and you can plan it and the rest of it, if something happens to the kids, you're not miles away, sort that out. So that's, that's, that's a big factor. And as I say you're saving time, which means you should be healthier, I mean, I don't think we should be working the extra time that you're getting, you should be in, you know, healthy stuff, going for a walk, stretching, all those sorts of things, to get the best value. So I think I think writing is a therapeutic thing as well, I think being able to write on a piece of paper, and see that you start at the top and you get to the bottom, and you can and you can visit, visibly see the start. And the end is like a feedback loop that makes you feel like you're accomplishing something. And I sometimes feel using the technology. So my last point before you can see can weigh in the technology of like, like an apple notes page, you can just keep scrolling, and scrolling and scrolling and you know, like you finished capturing things. I still take pictures of all my notes on paper. So I don't lose it digitally. But but it's just something I've observed a lot. So when important out of out of my bag, grab my old little a five notebook. I'll be making notes in this now as a way of testing the theory or post it notes. So going back to those two things, but they all go back into Apple notes.

Heather Bicknell 18:17
Yeah. Yeah, there's a lot back there. But I've never tried the digital, like handwritten digital notes. Personally, I think one thing I remember, even in college, I was a creative writing major. And there were people in my classes who would write their pieces. If it was like, more long form like a short story or something, I would type it. But if it was a shorter piece, I would hand write it first and then retype it and they couldn't get it couldn't understand my classmates who would go straight to like typing out a poem like that was just so it felt wrong to me to not have like the raw, crossing out of words and changing things around like kind of having the whole thing that you wrote the first time and then having to physically go back and kind of iterate on it. And so I've always been a pen and paper person. And I still do that for my notes. For work. I think there is something about, like what you said about kind of filling up the page.

Ryan Purvis 19:20
Definitely, there's a tactile response. If you if you want to memorize something, or have a good recall on it. You need that you need a tactile response. There was a study that was done on that and there is I'll have to see if I can find it. But there is evidence that that is the best way to go. They did a they did a study between people taking notes on a laptop versus people taking notes on pen and paper. And the recall rate was great on the people making notes, a pen or paper. And the interesting thing about this and my handwriting is shocking. I mean I'm left handed. I have ADHD I and might even be dyslexic to some extent. So you can't read or write it looks like a spider's crawl across the page. But one of the interesting things I found on that is even if the notes are not legible, your brain is still recalling what you've written. Because it's really, it's a reinforcement. And if you want to memorize anything, and I'm not an expert in this, but it's all about engaging your senses. And one of those things is the tactile response. The other thing is smell and music. They all help you to, to learn. And then it doesn't have to be classical music. The key thing is the music mustn't have words. That's that's the big thing.

Heather Bicknell 20:42
Yeah, no, that I mean, that resonates with me. That's another thing. I'm always jealous of the people who can listen to music, or podcasts while they work. Because I've tried stuff like that. And I end up just tuning out the the sound like my brain just shuts it out, I can work.

Ryan Purvis 21:02
Well, I'm the same. I mean, if I'm doing just like organizational work, like I'm sorting things out and stuff, I'll listen to podcasts. But if I want to do thinking, like on my whiteboard or something, or whatever, then it'll be some soundtrack is specifically a soundtrack I've heard a lot. So you almost you almost don't care about the soundtrack. But it's, so if I'm writing something, like if I'm running an article or something like that, I use a certain album, if I'm planning something, I use a different album. And you know, those sorts of things. So it almost tunes your brain, when they hear this trigger. Same as when I meditate only meditate with the same, the same app, the same sound. So it's almost the brain hears it and knows that this is the time to meditate. Yeah,

Heather Bicknell 21:47
yeah, it's not some like new stimulus. And then the other thing that was interesting to me, and what you said, and I don't know if it's full and rich people or not, but it made me think of, is a famous piece by the writer, Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own. And I haven't really thought about that, in terms of like our modern need for deep work. But, you know, it's one of the points in the piece is that in order to kind of produce great works of written art, you need to have like certain human conditions met, that means, you know, a space to do it, that you know, the time free from distractions, which I just thought was interesting, and kind of it reminded, it sounded similar to how you were talking about, you know, some of the advantages of working remotely and not having not having a commute not having a noisy office space, that that would put you more in a deep work mindset.

Ryan Purvis 22:53
Yeah, and I think this comes down to who people are and what their preferences are. I like to have called the meetings in the afternoon and I like my morning to be pretty, pretty light and pretty open. So I go to gym, I do whatever it is to do. And then I try and think about, and I'm thinking about stuff while I do that I go from, you know, walking around, and all that sort of stuff. And I normally come back and I do an hour of putting that into action. I don't even check my email till sort of 11 o'clock in the day. Which is, which is less, I mean, I do sometimes scan looking for something critical because of time zones and all that kind of stuff. But I'm usually just execute on things by the time I get back, because now thought about them, and I got the impulses coming to you or I need to do this, don't forget that, that sort of thing. So that's how I get the deep work in and some some nights, you know, kids will not relate again, but like three o'clock in the morning, and I'll work for like three hours on something. And I mean, it sounds sounds ridiculous, because you actually are exhausted by the time it gets to like 5am Because you should have been sleeping those three hours. So it's I have to nap and that to start the day again at seven. But that sets up the day, like I've accomplished this major thing. And it's usually driven by you know, I've got to get this thing done. So I know it's on my body to wake me up to get it done. But but having that quietness and it's not quiet for me because I'm actually you know, I've got like a Netflix series on in the background on my headphones and I'm I'm ignoring that while I'm working. Is that deep work? They get it and I don't think you needed every day of the week. I think I think two times a week is fine. You know if you can get one or two hours in, I think that for most jobs would set you up to be very successful that week. There was actually a very good book called I think called 12 weeks. And the idea behind that is every week, one week and every month you need to come I'd have a whole month, one week of effort should accomplish one thing. I think that was the premise. So if you took one day a week, basically, for a month, you should be working on that goal. And because you break the year down into these chunks, and it's kind of that mechanism.

Heather Bicknell 25:19
Yeah. That makes sense. Well, we could wrap up there, or we could talk about the four day workweek quickly.

Ryan Purvis 25:31
I haven't read that article yet. But I've got two minutes. So let's, let's chat about it. Generally speaking.

Heather Bicknell 25:38
Sure. Well, I just been seeing some stuff about I do want to dive kind of deeper to see what models people are talking about with the four day work week, whether that's still working 40 hours, or whether that's working fewer hours. So I think there's a really big distinction there. But it is interesting to see these kind of small pilots popping up of businesses trying out, you know, cutting off Fridays of the week, or, you know, one day a week for employees to see what it would do less than burnout, potentially improved productivity, people are saying, all of these, obviously give people way more flexibility, and more of a break. So it's an interesting experiment. I don't know. Yeah, I think to me, it really depends more on how many how many hours of work, get done. And then you know, it's such a white collar working to because in terms of working fewer days a week, it's not like, you know, I think about, you know, people in the medical field or other professions, you might work like, a few days a week, but they're like 12 hour shifts, or you know, work that's more shift based or not salaried is often not 40 hours. But anyway, that's those are kind of my thoughts, and you certainly want to learn more.

Ryan Purvis 27:04
Yeah, so I'm going to be careful what I say, because I'm actually going to be speaking on this in Nick this next month, at an event. But there's a couple things that I think about so So one thing is, I don't really care about how many hours in a week someone's working, per se. And I say that in the sense that I think it is you need to be balanced, I think you need to be healthy. But I think it's all about being results oriented. So in giving people work to do, and I do it with my teams, now. There's something to get done, you know, you need to get it done, you need to come back to me when it's going to get done. And how you achieve that. I'm not going to get involved in that. If you're going to actually want to work, you know, one hour a day for a week to get it done. And let's get it done, or you want to work 20 hours a day for a week to get it done. I'm not looking at that, all I'm looking at is back to you. Are you healthy, are you a good place, physically quality output, that sort of thing. So that's the one thing so whether it's a four day week, or a five day week, or a six day week or a three day week to meet, it shouldn't really matter. I think there needs to be anything, a level of understanding this is integrated, working in that you've got family commitments, you've got home commitments, and you've got work commitments, and your social commitments. And those all need to tie together. And I don't think you can give all of those same amount of priority and effort. In fact, home and family are pretty pretty linked together anyway. But I'd say you could really only invest in two of those three, with your time. In home, I'm including in family, including your personal wellness and all that as well. And when it comes to payments, and all that sort of thing, I think, you know, whether you're working a five day a week or a four day week, or whatever it is, I think I think the pay should be the same. I think you're paying someone for what they bring to the table from their experience, the skills, the value, again, you know, someone that's that's done this for 20 years, might take an hour to do the task, because they've got 20 years experience. And the aptitude where someone that's straight out of university might take 20 hours to do it because they need to learn all those things, and they need help. And so I think that the gist for me is there needs to be boundaries around when is when are people allowed where are people going to collaborate on something and it's not going to cause an imbalance in that thing. So what I mean by that is, you know, I'm working with the US company, you know, it's got India UK in the US, and timezones is a huge thing for us, like trying to get everyone On the phone setting a time that is that is suitable is so difficult, you know, us guys are getting up at seven or meeting at 7am to accommodate for India in the UK, India guys are going to be that, you know, 12, one o'clock in the morning to accommodate us, you know, those things are very tricky. And I think that's what you need to give people the flexibility. So if a guy's getting up staying up till one o'clock in the morning to talk to people in the US in India, he can expect him to be on at 7am The next morning to have a call with me in South Africa or somewhere in the UK. You know, you got to give people that so, and I think it comes down to treating people as adults, you know, they need to be able to say at comic their meetings to in the morning, comic meetings too late at night. I want my son to take to the dentist this morning, you know those sorts of things. So I think these experiments are cute. But I think it's just

it's not headlines in the newspaper, what actually needs to happen is the business culture has to change to we trust you, you're an adult, get your job done, we'll pay you well enough to get your job done. So you don't have to worry about being busy, or work working 15 hour days. And that should solve the problem. Close the thing. Lower. Does that make sense? was a bit of a rant.

Heather Bicknell 31:26
But it probably does. I think, you know, the point isn't necessarily if you chop one day off a week, that that's going to solve all the problems. There's a broader mindset that it's kind of more

Ryan Purvis 31:42
it's the same, it's the same as you know, I worked in some organizations where the in the US office, you can have unlimited PTO time off. And then if you look at the UK, there's there's a law around how much time off. And in South Africa, there's a law on how much time off. And I think the simplicity of it is, you know, a person wakes up in the morning on Friday, they they've had a good week, you know, they don't have to work that Friday, if there's nothing pressing, you know, why not spend the day with the family, take them out, go away for the long weekend, if they can afford it, that sort of thing. have that flexibility within the organization that they can do that. You'd have a much more loyal employee. I mean, you know, the last year we were living in Joburg, the bushes, two and a half hours drive away. And, you know, I've had a good week, and we have nothing really pressing to do. And I've said to my wife on a Thursday, let's go the bush tomorrow. And we'll leave at two o'clock in the afternoon, you know, I'll get up at five in the morning to knock out anything, you don't want to get knocked out. And we'll get in the car and it's and you go and you get this relaxing weekend, the kids get exposure to something, and you're in a great state by the time you get back on Monday, and you are thinking about work anyway. Because you know what works always on your mind in one way or another and also having the brake, let your brain process things and, and often will solve the problem. And I always take my laptop with me now. Or something Mac, iPad or whatever. So if it is something that you know, if the kids are sleeping, and then swimming in the pool, and I'm bored, you know, I can work on something, right, some ideas down or whatever it is. So you know that that time comes in many places. But you put your own power to be flexible and to control your own responsibilities and you get I think companies will flourish and then productivity will go up. Happiness will go up. And nothing works. Nothing moves faster than the happy stuff.

Heather Bicknell 33:42
Yeah, no, I totally agree with everything you said. I think there's a lot of stress reduction that can come through that flexibility. And that makes people you know, nicer to each other at work. It makes them worse efficient in their work because they're not working in a really poor burnt out mindset. Think that

Ryan Purvis 34:02
what we used to call them if if nine days where everyone's at the office on a Friday, because they have to be at the office. They got nothing really to do. So all they're doing is checking the email. Just pressing f9 to send or receive

Heather Bicknell 34:17
watching the clock. The worst time of work is waiting for executive to pass. Yeah. Hopefully that they've started to you know, be behind us.

Ryan Purvis 34:30
Hopefully, hopefully, anyway, I need to run I'm late, but it was great to catch up.

Heather Bicknell 34:36
Yeah, nice talking to you, Ryan.

Ryan Purvis 34:47
Thank you for listening today's episode. Hey, the big news app producer editor. Thank you, Heather for your hard work on this episode. He subscribes to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DWR The podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website www dot digital workspace that works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace that works and subscribe to our newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends or colleagues

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