Post Covid Observations

Lots of random thoughts. These are in no particular order.

Look at my screen

Some of the best work I have done was with a partner (designer, pm, or engineer) sitting right next to me. There are moments when you are designing when its appropriate to say “Look at this” and get a quick reaction. This is nearly impossible in the zoom world.

I was really hoping the Slack “huddle” feature would help with this. Unfortunately, it is just too hard. It feels like you are isolated with your thoughts. I think this is a net loss in the quality and speed of designs. This is especially true for junior designers. They are not getting mentored in the same was as when you can be sitting next to them and showing them how to improve the designs.

Onboarding

We are experimenting in my current job with new onboarding techniques. This is a bigger company, so mileage may vary. We are taking individuals and letting them spend a few weeks with several different design groups before they officially get started. We call it “touring”. The goal is to have them learn more parts of the org and meet more people. We think it helps with bonding.

So far, we think it is working pretty well. It’s still early, only a handful of people have been through it. This is the kind of thing that I believe companies should do more often in a post covid world.

Culture is made by people interacting and onboarding is the time to work on this with new recruits.

Punctuality

I have noticed that punctuality is much stricter. If it is 10:02am, people start calling the 911 to report a missing person. I don’t remember meetings being so punctual at all. We used to have to walk from one meeting room to the next, sometimes across buildings. Now, we race from one zoom to the next instantaneously.

Lunch bonding

I miss work lunches more than any other single factor. Having lunch with colleagues was great. It was low pressure, comfortable, and facilitated bonding. We went to fun restaurants and talked about the topics of the day. I miss it so much.

Sometimes when you had a tiff with some coworker, you could go to lunch and patch things up. It’s so hard to patch relationships in a zoom only world.

Offices & Traffic

Every office I pass in the Bay Area, I can see in the windows that there is no furniture in there. When I go into my office, I routinely need to wave my arms around to make the lights go back on. Yes, when I am driving on 101, there is still heavy traffic. Where are all of these people going? What would the traffic be if we all were commuting to an office?

I don’t really understand what is happening. I think offices are not coming back as they once were. Even if they were really fun and comfortable, all of my colleagues are spread around the world. Being in one office has become impossible.

Seeing eyes and faces

I hate this part of zoom. People turn off their video and have a conversation with you. It makes communication dramatically less effective. We have real body language and facial expressions we use to communicate. When you turn off your video, the other person is blind. Culturally, it separates us even more.

It’s not always possible, but I beg you to do your best to maintain eye contact and video on culture. We spend so much time alone in our homes, the least we can do is have the video on.

Side note: If you have a Mac M1 or M2 machine, they have a new feature for the camera called Studio lighting. It automatically makes you look like a professional video producer. It makes your lighting and focus look amazing. Highly recommended!

Predictions

It’s hard to see how this goes back to office culture in the tech world. We all live in various places. How can we all move? It’s just unfeasible. I have been exploring having regional meetings where people can gather for a few days and bond. This is the area we have to improve. Without an office, we need to figure out how to bond together to be productive and effective.

If you would have told me 5 years ago this would be the status quo today, I would have thought you were insane. Life is a twisting journey, isn’t it?


Comments

One response to “Post Covid Observations”

  1. Scott H. Edmonds Avatar
    Scott H. Edmonds

    don’t disagree with most of these, but i do think that offices will come back into style:
    https://www.linkedin.com/news/story/remote-staff-laid-off-35-more-6586706/

Whatya think?