What problem are we trying to solve?
After covid-19 emergency, lots of companies started working remotely on a large scale. A remote work, however, requires rethinking completely the social part of organizational life, especially for what regards interactions and communication flows. As we know, connecting with colleagues informally is helpful to keep motivation high, exchange information and tacit knowledge, and work better in a team. Moreover, for many people (e.g. newcomers) it’s the way for getting a peek into the organizational culture. In a completely digital workplace, we need to develop new ways for communicating informally with colleagues. Therefore, we asked ourselves how can we stimulate informal communication in remote teams?
Who is this solution for?
Fabio is a 28-year-old Technology Consultant in a small start-up company. He is rather new to the company, and for now, he had opportunities to work on projects only with some colleagues. He is curious to discover people in his company and observe them as possible role models. Moreover, connecting and feeling “part of the family” is important for his satisfaction at work. However, connecting was easier in the office: lunches in the kitchen, small talks in the corridor/elevator, walking from/to the office, spontaneous social outings, etc. Working in a remote setting, he is missing those informal moments.
A sneak peek into the ideation process
We made some desk research and interviewed office colleagues to empathize with Fabio. We then summarized all findings, brainstormed, and prioritized ideas.
Solution concept: what is the big idea?
What can unite colleagues in an online world and make it feel like a break? Of course, team-based games! What game narrative can feel attractive for the whole company (bosses included)? We thought it could be future workplaces. How can we stimulate informal communication in this game? We imagined it as a customizable game that can be finalized and filled with information about participants by a “game sensei”. This is how we invented the game “Workland Avenir”. It can be played by the whole company, in randomly organized teams. Its duration is 4 hours in 1 month, and the game is composed of 3 levels.
Game narrative design
You are in the office working on a project aiming to redesign your office spaces. You need a break, and one of your teammates invites everyone to the building roof for some fresh air. You go upstairs, the door has a strange look, you open it….all of a sudden you fall in a tunnel, and you end up in an unknown room: is it a parallel world? You can’t see anything because the light is off. On your first trial to talk, you hear Alexa’s voice inviting you to identify all people in the room. [Individual work: identifying your colleagues through quests]
* Experience for teams in rooms:
You observe the room: there is a strange door (you can’t open it), a big word hologram, some funny furniture. Where are all others? You take your smartphone, geolocation works! You see that your colleagues are in the same building, but…some blocked in rooms and others moving*. How can you get out of that room to reach them? Alexa’s voice says that the door can be opened only from outside by using your word hologram, and there are only 3 trials. You need to let your colleagues know what room you are in and pass them the hologram word! You decide to show in the video surveillance webcam tips on how to identify your room and the hologram word, hoping your colleagues will see it. [Team work: creating and uploading a mute video to show your futuristic room and explain your word; the video has only 3 slots of 5 seconds]
* Experience for the team in an open space:
You are in a big open space with a command center. From video surveillance monitors you see your colleagues blocked in some rooms. They are trying to show you something. It seems that only you can move freely in the building: there are so many rooms. How can you find your colleagues? How can you open those rooms? Alexa’s voice says that doors can be opened only from outside by using a word hologram, and there are only 3 trials. You study a digital map of the building on the wall, you observe your colleague messages (they are definitely showing you their word holograms), and you start searching for them. [Team work: positioning teams in rooms, guessing passwords in 3 trials; after 3 trials, there is 1h waiting time or possibility to open another room before trying to open this one again]
You are finally all together! This place is a mess: there’s nobody there and it is full of locks. How can you get back to your reality? One of the colleagues says that he noticed in the building the same door as in your office rooftop (He received a decrypted message from sensei). It was the kitchen. You all run there but this time you can’t open the door. Alexa’s voice says that the door can be opened by using a pass-phrase, and only the lockmaster can do it, and it’s one of you. She refers to that person as “light breeze” (or any other character/animal/tree/flower metaphor). Now you have to identify who is it in your team! And a pass-phrase? Maybe it’s a combination of hologram words? Again, you have 3 trials [Collective work: combining words into a pass-phrase and guessing the metaphor]
You are back in the real world! Time to celebrate! [Celebration: it can be real or digital]
Sensei is the person who customizes and leads this game. In week 0, it’s his/her role to compose teams, interview players to create quizzes, kickoff the game, give instructions to teams, and give an encrypted message to a lockmaster (who is randomly selected). He/she also intervenes in case of difficulties to give further tips if teams are running out of time.
Examples of customizable quizzes:
- Match persona to her avatar
- Match persona to her creative description
- Match persona to her creative output (a piece of music, handcraft)
- What is true and what is wrong about me
- An awkward moment I had with the client, etc.
The future we’d love to imagine for “Workland Avenir”
When we started this design sprint, our inner driver was to resolve the real problem of real people at work. When we were in the flow, we continued repeating to ourselves “let’s keep it simple”; however, somehow the idea of the online game seized us. We decided to publish this project to receive from the LXD community suggestions on how to make a hi-fi prototype, how to test it in real setting, and how to improve the game by using the ludodidactic principles. Please connect to us if you also believe in this project and would like to share your ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org (Iryna Prus), email@example.com (Anneke Blok).