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Remote Work Matrix

A design research tool for evaluating how teams collaborate.

Duration (1 months):
Manny, Lead Researcher
Tem, Founder & CEO
+ 7 other members
UX Research
Qualitative Analysis

Optemization is an operations design agency…

I joined in August of 2021 that builds workspaces and automations that empower distributed teams at companies like Discord, Metalab and Stir. The COVID-19 pandemic presented an immense opportunity for the business to become an industry leading consultancy that helps teams collaborate remotely and optimize their workflows. Flattened projection of a globe highlighting the names and cities of 12 optemization team members

I led an all-hands research initiative on remote work with 11 team members.

The overall objective was to discover Optemization’s product-market fit among 3 target customer segments. We broke up into 4 teams of 3, with each team having a recruiter, interviewer, and analyzer. While analyzing and synthesizing some of our early responses I noticed a gap.

The team needed a way to quantify and compare timezone painpoints with our research participants.

One of the top 5 major pain points we came across in our research were timezones and the friction around scheduling and collaboration.

A list of 5 pain points in a Notion database: "Lack of standardization around tools", "Building culture remotely is hard, because it doesn't happen through unintentional interactions (as there's no "water cooler conversation")", "large timzones differences make synchronous work increasingly difficult without async processes/culture", "Onboarding new people and scaling a team because they do not have rituals and processes readily available and documented.", "It's hard to find information, people frequently say they can't find something"

I designed a card sorting activity that measured timezone difference thresholds and 2 other characteristics on a spectrum:

  • How the team works (sync vs. async)
  • Where the team works (office-only vs. remote-only)
  • Difference in timezone hours (0 hours vs. 12 hours)

Screen recording of the card sorting activity being facilitated with a real participant dragging around sticky notes for each of the 3 prompt spectrums.

I tested the framework in subsequent research interviews and iterated on both the card sorting prompts and the 2x2 matrix for analysis. After a few weeks and a more interviews I turned it into a Miro template and documentation for my team to use it in their own interviews.

The threshold for timezone friction was 6-9 hours for synchronous collaboration.

In addition to quantifying the timezone painpoints, the 2x2 matrix also helped us position our clients relative to us. This helped us better identify a match (or not) between our current services and client needs.

The card sorting research activity and 2 by 2 analysis tool side by side.

My Impact

Just wanna say that Manny and his design thinking UX initiatives have been remarkable. I love how their impacting my thinking and I hope that we can share that across Optemization efficiently. — Tem, Founder and CEO of Optemization

Thank you Manny for making it always so easy and approachable and being such a MASTER facilitator!! Your humongous efforts behind this entire sprint do not go unnoticed. — Lucia

What I Learned

  • Card sorting activities are an extremely effective way to virtually engage with research participants and capture information.
  • Notion is a powerful tool for setting up a qualitative research repository.

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