Remote working as a team can be challenging without those creative, casual conversations that spontaneously emerge in an office environment. Fortunately there is a tool that brings those conversations to the virtual world.
At Headscape we often work remotely. Some staff work from home 90% of the time, while others only do so a couple days a week. Although there are many advantages to this approach, it also brings some challenges especially when using Agile or simply encouraging spontaneous conversations. We solve this problem with a tool called Sqwiggle.
Sqwiggle is such a good tool that I am going to do something I have never done before. I am going to allow the co-founder to tell you about it in his own words. After all, there is nothing he can write that would big it up anymore than I would.
What follows is Matt Boyd’s thoughts about his tool Sqwiggle.
Sqwiggle: Our Product Vision and Design
As CoFounders of Sqwiggle, we’re constantly thinking through our vision behind the product and execution. We love considering the future through a lens that’s focused on the possibilities and prospects. We make choices every day based on our passion for the remote working lifestyle and hold a firm belief that it will one day be as common as the physical office experience is today.
Sqwiggle at a Glance
As we like to describe it, Sqwiggle is an “Always On” video workroom for your remote team. Open the app in the morning and leave it running all day long. This approach allows for maximum team visibility and collaboration throughout the day.
While not in a discussion, your audio is disabled to minimize background noise and Sqwiggle sends a black and white picture to your team several times a minute, letting them know you’re available. When you’d like to discuss with 1 or more people, simply click their video feed and start talking. Once clicked, audio and color video are enabled allowing a seamless point of entry with no time wasted in waiting for discussions to be accepted.
The Big Vision
The “always on” functionality behind Sqwiggle seems like a new and slightly controversial idea but we believe it’s how people have always communicated in productive work environments. Why should it be any different over the web? Our approach with Sqwiggle is to capture the natural ability to freely discuss, with no barrier of calling or waiting.
Sqwiggle is quickly becoming the centerpiece and catalyst in helping remote teams build a creative space to collaborate, regardless of physical location. Think of it like a virtual office and you won’t be too far off.
How can Sqwiggle help you?
Sqwiggle is beneficial in many ways, specifically geared toward distributed teams aiming to increase visibility and collaboration. I’ve created a simple list of reasons why Sqwiggle is helping teams work together more efficiently.
Loneliness and the Office Watercooler
We’ve found that remote working is generally a great experience but it can come along with some major disadvantages, one of them being the sheer loneliness of spending the majority of your work day alone. The ability to see your coworkers faces during the day and interact with them in a real and tangible way makes a major difference in your productivity and creative collaboration as a team.
We refer to office social activities as “the watercooler” effect where simple social conversations can easily breakout, especially in the classic physical office setting. It’s much more difficult to create a watercooler environment on a remote team. Our goal at Sqwiggle is to help distributed teams build a social culture and make watercooler conversations much more commonplace.
Because classic video conferencing solutions require major setup time, the possibility of short “blast conversations” isn’t realistic or valuable. According to these statistics, the average conversation length of Skype calls is 27 minutes.
Sqwiggle is changing the existing perception of video conferencing by making conversations much more easily expendable. Conversations now look more like this..
- Person 1: “Hey, could you send over those documents?”
- Person 2: “Ok, cool. I’ll send them over.”
- Person 1: “Thanks!”
Currently, 95% of all conversations happening on Sqwiggle are under 1 minute and we believe that’s the sweet spot for instant communication throughout the day.
The Sqwiggle UI and Aesthetic
Our goal behind the Sqwiggle UI has always been a fine balance between use, necessity and simplicity. We work hard in justifying the use case behind every feature and make sure it’s relevant to our overall vision and the value we’re trying to add into our user’s workflow. In other words, we keep it very simple and only add the things we firmly believe will help people.
We also like to keep our design as minimalistic as possible from an aesthetic standpoint. We’re in love with UI that isn’t “over designed” with heavy gradients, textures and drop shadows. We pay close attention to the details and make sure the UI makes sense from a design and UX standpoint.
Our goal at Sqwiggle is to challenge the most common perception of what video conferencing “is” by creating functionality that changes the way people communicate. We’re creating a new channel of communication that will not only help people work together more efficiently over the web, but empower businesses to create a culture where remote working is encouraged.