The Human Centered Design Podcast with Gerry Scullion

Experimenting with Work: Insights from Miro's Sid van Wijk

John Carter
June 27, 2024
42
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Experimenting with Work: Insights from Miro's Sid van Wijk

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Episode shownotes

Welcome to another episode of This is HCD. In this episode, we interview Sid van Wijk from Miro about the company's Living Lab and their innovative approach to employee experience and workplace design. We highlight the importance of experimentation, the challenges of hybrid work, and the future of both online and in-person collaboration. Sid shares insights into Miro's Living Lab, a dynamic environment where they continuously test and refine office spaces based on feedback from employees and customers. Key themes include the balance between individual work and collaboration, the necessity of workplace flexibility, and strategies for measuring employee experience.

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Episode Transcript

This transcript was created using the awesome, Descript. It may contain minor errors.
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Gerry Scullion (00:00.142)

The cool thing about an experiment, you don't know what the outcome will be. Or else it's not an experiment. Yeah. Right. This is what I don't like about business cases. You're focused on too much on what the outcome needs to be. Yeah. But now they're asking, hey, that's an experiment. Try to figure out what the cheapest version of the pill is. But, and how do you capture feedback? And that's such a different way of coming up with ideas and bringing them to light a mirror.

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Gerry Scullion (00:32.302)

Sid, how's it going? Pretty good. How are you? I'm all right. Bit awkward being in the middle of Miro face to face, but it's all good. I'm delighted to be here. We've just had a great tour for the second time. We've been collaborating with one of my clients, which is the DGA in Saudi Arabia. And we had them in and they walked them around and stuff. Now, one of the pieces that I feel is really, really fitting.

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to the audience of the Human Centered Design Network is the work that you particularly are doing in the year around the Living Lab. Before we jump into that, maybe you'll tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Miro. Yeah. So my name is Sid van Wijk. I'm based in Amsterdam, work for Miro for two years now. I lead their strategic engagement programs, which is two things, our customer advisory boards and our executive briefing centers, which we call the Miro Discovery Center. So I lead both of those programs.

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So what's the outcome of those pieces? So that's what you do, but what are you hoping to achieve by doing that work? Got it. So my focus is really to meet with our top clients, but in person. So this building where we are, which you call the Living Lab, here in Amsterdam, our headquarters, where we could meet with these customers in person to really build a stronger relationship with, but also tell...

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This is the thing with perception, right? In the world where everything changes really fast, technology changes really fast, we change really fast as a company, perception usually doesn't. So we are 13 years old. Yeah, 13 years old today. Here we go. It's our birthday. Super cool. And they're visiting. So nice. Yeah, we actually have people visiting on our birthday. Very cool. We started with whiteboarding.

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And this is the thing, once you see us as whiteboarding, it's very difficult for us to move that perception, right? If you look at Miro now, it's so much more. And when we spend a day together here and just talk about it, we can really change that perception and really get you thinking about all the stuff you can do with Miro, which is so much more than just whiteboarding. That's like 10 % of it. Yeah. So like...

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Gerry Scullion (02:40.334)

First of all, this is not a commercial. This is not, I know it looks like we've got the brand and all that kind of stuff here, but it's just the perfect room for a podcast. I use your tool and I've been on the journey from 2011 to now. So real -time board into Miro. And in that time, my kind of usage of it has shifted from just a place to put research to really how I work and how I run my business. Yeah, cool.

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Is that kind of like the same trajectory? Am I part of the flow of the evolution of Miro? Is that what you want your customers to be doing? Well, I like that you say that because in a sense, you could say that work happens on a Miro board. I mean, we have this building, work happens in a building, but I think that is more supportive of where work happens because we all know that work actually happens on the laptop in a tech stack. We want to be that connecting.

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tissue where we are this hub integrating with everything. So when you have this idea, this project, it all lands a mirror and you can end to end build it from there. And the cool thing is we have formulated a mission statement when we were born 13 years ago and it's still the same. And that's really focused on empowering teams to create the next big thing.

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So the focus is on teams getting them on a mirror board and really helping them with that innovation process. An idea that becomes that next big thing, whatever that is. That's so much more than whiteboarding. With the pandemic, just going back to that, because I remember when your competitors, I was doing a little bit of work with them at that point, and they mentioned that there was a hockey stick moment of adoption. So they just said, look, the growth is just...

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absolutely out of this world. So I found myself running my business, running all the training, running coaching through Miro. Okay. And now we find ourselves in that hopefully post pandemic world. I don't know if it's still safe enough to say that I feel like a bit like in a movie. If I say it out loud, it might actually come back. But if... Don't jinx it. Don't jinx it. It didn't happen. But one of the things that I really liked about when we were catching up and connecting is the approach.

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Gerry Scullion (04:57.838)

to the hybrid model between people who are working from home and people who are in the office. We spent a long time today chatting about that evolution because people are still distributed and they're still working remotely. And it creates this gap or this, I don't even think it's an uncanny valley, but it seems like a point where you could say it. But you had a lot of intel in that space and how you see

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dialing people in who are working from home and giving them the equity so they're not seen as a second class. Exactly. We're all first class. We're all first class. So tell us a little bit about your experiments and what you used. And we have a huge culture of experimentation at Miro. And we do know that before the pandemic, we were like 250 people and now we're nearing 2000, right? Massive growth over a very short time. We had one office before the pandemic, now we have 13. Was this the office?

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No, this was not the obvious. We had it in Amsterdam, a smaller one, but we had to grow. And now we are about 900 people here in Amsterdam. We're outgrowing this even. But we didn't know how we had to work together in person. Because we grew this much over the pandemic. And the cool thing, what you already see in the culture of Miro, a lot of people discovered Miro during the pandemic because they had to find tools to work together to collaborate.

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And a lot of those people jumped on like, that's exciting. And they joined in that excitement. So you really see that in the culture. I find that really cool. But we had to discover what our ways of working was going to be because we had so limited experience with in -person and what did that mean. And the pandemic was very predictable because every call was virtual. You know exactly what type of meeting it was going to be. You were only 16 steps from back to office. Right.

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And now we're all in person. Now we have so many new flavors to add to the mix. And we had to figure out what does that mean for us? And we didn't know. To figure that out, to learn, we set up a concept which we call the Living Lab. And this is like the blueprint here in Amsterdam, one of the offices where we set up everything for experimentation. So if you look at Living Lab, two components to it, right? Living, meaning that it's changing, right?

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Gerry Scullion (07:17.613)

You need to make sure that what you bring in is movable so you can change. You can move it out and redecorate as such. And you need to make sure that you can swap it efficiently as well. And for that reason, we have the far majority of furniture and technology unsubscription, which means that if you look at this office and you look around, we don't own it. And for example, a chair could have an SLA of three weeks and we don't like it, we could change it really fast based on feedback. Yeah.

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The other part, so that's the living part. Everything is on wheels, right? Everything we can change and bring back and swap it out. The lab aspect of it is that is where we invite everyone to the experimentation, but that's customers, that's internal as well. Because they know that we can change, they are very likely to give feedback. So we have multiple ways to get that feedback in if they don't like a space or they're looking for something else. They know we can change and because they know...

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They give more feedback. And this is a blueprint and now we have 13 offices. So what we learn here, we distribute to the others as well. I mean, when we were chatting earlier on, I was explaining about the business model canvas, which is a strategizer tool. And one of the elements in there is the customer relationship. And what I can see is the key to unlocking all of this experimentation is the leasing of the furniture. That's unlocked.

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An awful lot of those bits were before we might have said, no, we can't do that. But it's a subscription, that's not even lease. The cool thing about subscription is it's a monthly fee. So we partner with an agency, we just ask, what is the square meter? How many people do you need to cater for? We're bringing a version one and every month you pay a fixed amount. Per person in the building, is it? Well, it's all brought together on a single amount, right? But that doesn't increase.

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when you swap something out. So the room we were in today, we always say that that's on the version 5. And we figured out that there were whiteboard tables. I love that. So I reached out and we could have that. And now we have this new way of collaborating on the tables. I think that's super cool. Absolutely. It's so cool because experimentation is one of the things we're trying to foster within the service design community as well. That whole cool willingness to take the leap to really experiment. And it seems to be part of the DNA in here.

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Gerry Scullion (09:40.365)

So how do you get the word out there to people like the other employees that, hey, it's okay to experiment. And it's not a bad thing to suggest changes because that's a cultural piece. Yeah, just don't ask them to build a business case. Yeah, yeah, pretty much. Yeah, it's they see the change, right? Yeah. So for example, when they gave feedback on a room, we, you know, those happy or not totems on the airport, right? With a sentiment notice, usually we put them out when there is a change.

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So people have this visual trigger like, something changed. Then we can get the sentiment of it as well. So because it provides feedback and we changed base on it and they see we did something. So it means that we're listening. They're going to provide more feedback after that as well. And this spreads quite fast in turn as well. But in the end, this is more expensive, but you'll build it. You're building in so much innovation because you're not logged in and it always feels new. Yeah.

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But we learned so much throughout these two years doing this that we now have a really good understanding of what the balance is that we're going for. How many collaboration spaces do you need? What do they look like? How many desks do you need in an office, for example? We're going to a new office, I think in a half year's time, and we have a really good grip on how we think that should look like and what the best office is. Yeah. So there's two questions to this. One, who watches the metrics? Who basically does that? Yeah.

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Maybe that's the first part we'll answer and we'll come back to the second part. Well, we have a workplace team, which is really focused on this when we talk about workplace and there is someone dedicated on tracking all this data and setting up the feedback loops and extracting data from that. And we have multiple ways to really figure out, okay, how do we capture feedback? How do we bring that in? So a survey is one, the totems are another thing, right? Yeah. But we also have focus groups where we're really trying to figure out with maybe a department or a team of what is your way of working.

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We also do a lot of observation. So we have one large room. It's enormous. We call it the Miro Dojo. This is where agile teams go. And it's full. There's too much in there. Too much furniture, too much technology. But they can just grab whatever. They set themselves up for success. They take a screen, another screen. Could be different brands constantly because we're experimenting with that as well. And then we're trying to figure out, okay, what did they actually use? And then we ask, okay, was that good?

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Gerry Scullion (12:04.141)

Okay. So the flip side of that question, but who's measuring it? And yes, sure enough, people give feedback and say they like it. It's part of the lab. You're not a lab. You can offer an experiment. The cool thing about an experiment, you don't know what the outcome will be, or else it's not an experiment. This is what I don't like about business cases. You're focused on too much on what the outcome needs to be. But now they're asking, hey, that's an experiment, try to figure out what the cheapest version to fail is, and how do you capture feedback?

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And that's such a different way of coming up with ideas and bringing them to life in Miro. So there's like a bit why I'm probing on this one a little bit more is people will listen to it and people in their businesses might say, well, we couldn't do that because we have to have a justification on what the outcome is. Is it better, you know, outputs in terms of the quality of the outputs, the quality of the collaboration, the quality? Is there a business metric that we can put against this?

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to show that it's working. It would be great if you can find something which is measurable. I'm not saying that the full company needs to go in this direction. You do need to figure out what are the pocket scenarios where we can do this with. Can we create a section or a part of the office or a part of a team which is free to do this? That's difficult to get to, but there are so many learnings. And I think the learnings once you

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share those learnings internally, I hope that will help to do it again, and go bigger and go bigger. So going all the way back to the remote sessions, so whenever you've got live calls with people and people, as you said, you've got a good scenario there, like, I need to pick the kids up, I'm going to do that when I'm in the car, versus I'm going to do it on a cafe or, you know, I'm sick, I'm home in bed, and I don't want to show my face. So we need a driver behind hybrid.

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So a hybrid engagement is or a hybrid meeting when you have an audience in front of you and an audience which is not there remote. And that happens to us. And the driver is so important because it is not that we plan for a hybrid. It is not that we book a meeting and say, these people are going to go remote and these people are going to invite. It's not going to go like that. You set up a meeting.

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Gerry Scullion (14:27.021)

And people are going to decide if they're going to join remotely or in person. To your point, I'm going to pick up the kids. It's a personal driver. You decide that you want to pick up the kids. So you decide to take the rest of the day. Yeah, virtual, virtually remote. Right. Sure. And that is when hybrid happens. And the difficulty around this is the expectation towards it. Yeah, it is not that you have a meeting here. Do you look at your calendar and say,

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that is acceptable to do remotely or anything. I've started to do a lot more where I gauge and say, well, actually, I know that person. I've worked with them. If they're a collaborator, then I'll do it on the fly. In terms of on the fly, I could do it in a coffee shop. I could be out and about shopping. But if it's a client, I'm definitely at my desk. I still feel that draw for professionalism to be there, to have the high quality camera and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, very cool. We started calling it this whole thing a paradox. Yeah.

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And really because everyone wants flexibility. And I asked our recruiters and they said it's like a talktree question. The person we're interviewing, they're asked what does it mean to you? What is flexibility? Where can I work? Do we have fixed office hours? What is it like? So they want that. They want to have the work -life balance. On the other end, they also want to be as involved as the rest. And they want to have a similar...

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experience, SRS, right? And this makes it hard. Yeah, absolutely. How can you combine both? And that gives attention. That feels like a paradox. Yeah. So in the scenario you went this morning where we were saying, OK, well, you've got the camera behind you, the boot cam, as you call it, where it's focusing on your rear. Which is usually a camera, which is you see in meeting rooms when there is this screen for you, which is

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clearly focused on sitting, sitting workshops and the camera is on table height. But once you present and stand in front of the screen, that is at a weird height, right? The Budcam. Yeah. So you kind of have to get out of your way and then people are forced to be doing a little bit of this and then they might get a bit of the armpit kind of perspective and stuff. And this is how we build a relationship with them, I guess. Hello. Yeah, yeah, pretty much. And then you turn around and they might see the screen.

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Gerry Scullion (16:50.893)

It's clunky for the want of a better word. One of the alternatives kind of solutions that we were saying, well, maybe you could have a 360 camera on the table where the people joining, they get more visibility of all the people there. You tried that. How did it go? The thing is, that is great visibility for the people at home. But when you have that 360 cam, no one talks to it. Yeah. So it means if they're...

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There is a 360 cam. I'm not going to talk to that camera because I don't see you there, right? I'm going to see you here. So I'm going to talk to you where I see you. But if the camera is now there, it will look at my ear. So it will not feel spoken to. So there is a disconnect and I'm trying to figure out what is the most natural of setup. So I always make sure that the camera, the microphone and the screen where I see you are amongst the audience.

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Which is in the far majority of rooms I've seen and I've seen a lot. They are in a party sound. The party is coming through. Hopefully the mics are picking up. We need to go deeper. The far majority of rooms have this one screen with a camera fixed to it. So now I'm talking to a room full of people and I'm going to address them because I get feedback from them. A lot of communication is non -verbal. They're going to nod. I'm going to talk to that person and the rest is now watching my back. Right? Yeah.

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It's very easy for me to forget them because I don't see them. I cannot do this constantly. That's going to be exhausting. Don't feel natural. We have a concept which we call the facilitator gym. So we do training sessions. It's a muscle you need to build that. And we do testing sessions for hybrid. And within two minutes, everyone forgot the remote participants. really? Yeah, very fast. Because we don't see them. So this is what I do.

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I play and make sure that there is a second screen because I want to separate content from people screens. Yeah. Because I don't want to compromise. Right. I want to. This is my slides. That's that's what I want to show. I don't want that to mix with the video conferencing and the people. Yeah. I need that to be slight and I need another screen amongst the audience where I can see you. OK, so we can talk to you. Right. Yeah. And those is a camera. Presumably on that.

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Gerry Scullion (19:11.373)

Because I am going to look at the screen and you feel looked at if the camera is there as well. And can you position that in the sort of got the same perspective of the people you're presenting to that are in the room, physically in the room? I always let's say this is the table, right? I'm presenting here in the screen behind me. This is like a large boardroom table. I always place it here next to the screen. So they're close to me so they can hear me better. So they feel closer to me. And now the rest of the table can also see them. Yeah. So.

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the rest of the audience will not forget about them either. And now I have more... The cameras which are in there, they can easily hear me because it's close. I can place it at the far end of the table, which I've seen rooms doing that as well, but now all the audience here, they will look at me presenting and they will forget them. Makes sense, right? Yeah, absolutely. I make sure that this is on wheels so I can roll it in.

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Yeah, absolutely. So it's like one bit I really liked. It's like it's equitable design in that sense that you're giving the same emphasis to the people in the room as you are. So you've got a like a parking space at the table, so to speak, for people to dial in. That's the remote space. And I guess this part of the table is blocked. No one sits there. That's for everyone who is remote sitting there. Okay. So they feel like they're sitting on the table. That's the feeling I want to give to someone who's not there. So do you have like, is it a screen that fits on a...

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on a chair because I've seen this, I don't know if you know the TV show Silicon Valley. They had something like that before. I think it was in Hooli, if anyone remembers that, where they dial in on this screen on the top of the chair and they're like, hi everyone. I remember these meetings where I was the only person dialing in and they had this screen which was 65 inch large and it was the only person dialing in. So my hat was big on the screen and it was against the window. So I saw the reflection in the meeting. So I saw how big a presence I had in that meeting. It felt very awkward.

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Yeah, we have a neat frame that needs the brand Norwegian brand, gorgeous brand, which is like this big, right? Portrait size. And often, it is only one person dialing in. Yeah, I just put that on near a chair. So I feel like they're on the table. That feels very cool. So that whole kind of liminal or kind of in between states, the grid edge of experiences, as I say in the podcast.

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Gerry Scullion (21:36.204)

seems to be an area that is evolving. From the perspective of CID and not the perspective of Miro, where do you see the future of online and real world collaboration going? You're rubbing your face going, don't ask me this question. I'm trying to think what it means. I mean, if you'd have said just five years ago that we were still facing these challenges, you might have been like, I think we would have tackled it by now. What does it look like in another five years? No, we have a lot of learnings.

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It doesn't feel like we have a best practice towards it. I like the whole concept of asynchronous collaboration. Because I think we need to expand our thinking of a meeting. When we have a meeting, it feels like, that's synchronous present, we're all there. Right. But I think there's a lot more to it in the preparation of it. We all know that we work from home, we feel more effective. I think when we send off the meeting, it needs to have some sort of a homework where we say, hey,

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Let's already capture some ideas. Let's do some alone thinking on it and bring that to the engagement. So we all know the meeting culture is not it feels a bit broken. Yeah, we have too many meetings for when it was epidemic. It was like back to back was exhausted. And for tree, which made it even more exhausting. Yeah. And I think we're all trying to figure out a way that we can be more productive in that sense. This morning I shared as well. Let's try to figure out how we can.

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go of nine to five, right? In the example of creative workers, what they don't want is interruption, right? That's a huge killer of creativity. So they're trying to find ways where they can work in a space and time where there is limited interruption. And that could as well be at home after 10. Yeah. Right. So maybe because of that, because the nine to five model for the work week is designed 100 years ago for factory workers. What does it mean to knowledge workers? And you say five years ahead, but we...

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We've been working in the same way for a few years. I could mention stuff like VR, which I think has possibilities in it and it's going to be a flavor of collaboration and we're looking at it and it's going to be super cool once it's there. It will take time for adoption, but there is so much potential. When you frame it that way, though, it's almost like we're at the beginning. We're kind of seeing the end of some of these patterns. We need more people to experiment.

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Gerry Scullion (23:59.212)

and more people to just throw it open and saying that this is what works for us, this is what we're trying. It would be kind of cynical enough for me to say that it's a selling point from an HR perspective that there's a huge amount of flexibility to attract top talent. That's obviously a huge driver as well for this. Is there a requirement for Miro employees to come back into the office a certain amount of days, set days a week? Well, not a requirement, right? But we are actively looking for good reasons to come in.

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We want it to make sense that you're in the office. We want your office day to be different than working from home. We want you to design it as such. If you're having the same... If you're coming to an office, just to sit in the phone booth, you have Zoom calls, then we need to redesign it. And a lot of people have that feeling, right? It was mandatory. I had to go to the office. And I love to ask customers that when you meet someone in the hallway, and you ask why you're here. And that's quiet. And I said, what will they say? And they say, like, well, I had to. I had to be in the office.

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And that is all the wrong reasons. Yeah, I know some of you are the big tech companies, that's kind of their mantra. Like you need to be three days a week, two days from home. But the thing is also how we measure it because... So what are you measuring? Tell us more about that. Well, we need to focus more on outcome of it. But we do need to share that widely. And for example, standing in line in coffee can be very productive. You might meet someone who you get to share a project blocker with.

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And he is going to point you to someone who can help you out. Try to measure that. Yeah. But we all know that there's productivity. It's like hidden productivity. But that was good. Right. How do you create that in a virtual world? Right. That's serendipity. Yeah. So for me, that there is a lot of value in coming in for that to happen. And we need to create a space for that to happen. So if you go into an office and you have back to back.

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Yeah, it's pointless. Then you don't crave room for it either. Yeah. So those kind of spaces are, and I love the fact because I've been going on my own journey with regards to creating space for that creative thought to occur. I'm becoming better at having my meetings maybe in the first couple of hours of the day and then just freeing it up. Yeah. Is that something that you're seeing that new employees come in and need to be coached?

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Gerry Scullion (26:20.94)

into this kind of way of thinking is because there will definitely be people carrying from other tech companies who work differently and think differently. How do you get them to release that tension? So with Miro, we see that this is coming from top down. So when I want to have a meeting with our COO, for example, who's that's right. A lot of people. He wants to he's asking me to add something to the meeting.

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where I share what I'm expecting from a meeting. And we always add a mirror board to the meeting, which has a recording. That's a talk track where I briefly explain to him and he can play the 1 .5 speedy. We want what I want. Right. So we can make a decision in like 10 minutes. Right. So they are actively trying to work with us in such a way. And because it's coming down on us, we see that other people have.

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starting to adopt it more easily. Yeah. And yeah, it's it's really important because, you know, that whole kind of permission to work autonomously is what's missed in an awful lot of organizations. So the permission to have that control of your own day doesn't happen by chance. Yeah. So there's leaders, there's middle management, a lot of people to enable it. Is there...

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Any drawbacks to this? You can see. I'm trying to play devil's advocate again here in terms of like so much control, so much flexibility. What is the potential to go wrong? I think people. We have so many different working styles together, and I think some people flourish with this model and they can grab ownership of their agenda and they can deal with it really well. And others struggle with it more.

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Now the complexity is that these different personas are usually in one team. And they do need to work together. And the example I shared earlier with you this morning from a junior developer, let's say, has a lot to learn, right? Wants to eavesdrop on other conversations with more senior, wants to ask that quick question. Because that is for him to speed up, right? And to learn and to do...

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Gerry Scullion (28:46.508)

accelerate his career. But the other will see that as interruption as well. So they're thinking, I don't want to do the interruptions killing so much creativity. I'm going to start working from home. So you see where this is going. Then this junior developer goes to the office, sees no one's around and they will stop coming to an office. And so this needs to be managed. But it needs to be managed in such a way that you really say, okay, these are collaboration hours. This is fine.

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have that interruption. That is going to be good for someone, more struggling for the other. But it needs to come together. We need to find that common ground in there. And I think that's super difficult. Absolutely. There's no one answer to it. I remember if I've got my headphones on, don't come near me. That was one of my cues. I remember working with Luke, this phenomenal Dutch guy actually, who I used to have a business with.

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And he used to dream of having a red flag come up on his, he was a developer, red flag comes up as like, absolutely do not come near me. You know, and he had all these quantifiable metrics about like, I'd lose 25 minutes of my thinking process. Because a quick question. But he's right. Because if you ask a quick question, before you're back to the same level of focus, it will take you 20 minutes. Yeah. I mean, Luke was saying this stuff to me, 2007. Okay, and we were working in an ad agency.

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had tipped TWA there. And he was like, people would perceive him as probably being a little bit grumpy, but because he was being forced to work in a loud environment full of interruptions, you know, creative director didn't have a clue, banging big drums and all this kind of stuff. And he was like, I just want to work from home. But people at those days was like, why would you work from home? Like, you know, like they think that you're not working and stuff. Yeah.

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I hear this a lot. Yeah, like that's, it's this whole kind of trust issue at its core. I think so. So, well, and the funny thing is when I ask someone, why do you work from home? It's often the replies that they feel more productive. Yeah. To me, that makes a lot of sense as well, because when you're at home, you have more focus time to create, to build. And usually that leads to an end product, which is quite tangible. You wrote something. So now you feel productive because I made this. Yeah.

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Gerry Scullion (31:08.588)

And when you're in office and you're drinking coffee, there is productivity. Yeah, different types of product. Yeah, exactly. Different, different types. But we do need to balance that out. Is it possible, or maybe you are already doing it because a lot of my questions here today have been successfully answered. The stuff of going to the coffee bar and having that serendipity and synchronization of people versus I've created this new document, this outcome that can be shared amongst people.

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This one is measurable, this one here is a little bit harder to measure. So do you expect people to take out their phones and kind of go, tick, had a conversation at the coffee bar? Is that possible? Or that experience? I mean, you could probably visually look at how many people are taking coffees. I don't know. But it's good that we need to know. But it also means that we need to figure out new ways of measuring. Yeah.

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At its core, like the reason why I was speaking to Bushra who's in the Saudi government, I was saying to them, this at its core is service design. You're creating the factors for collaboration, for alignments to occur. You're thinking in terms of a living lab, things that come together. Music. It feels like the end of a podcast. Yeah, it feels like they're doing my track. They're doing the auto track coming in. It is their 13th birthday today, folks, so we've got to give them a bit of a break.

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But I'm not hanging around for the party just so I need to fly back to Dublin. But going on that, too often people focus on the creation of services that get out into the hands of people, the customers and stuff. It seems that you in particular are very focused almost like an employee perspective. You've got a huge focus on enabling some of these things to occur. Where is Miro at in its own service design journey? Is that something that it seems like you mentioned there that there's...

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I don't know what team you refer to who might measure the metrics. But employee experience, is that something that language and that terminology has been bounced around? Yeah, a lot. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And we have a team dedicated on it. It's not just a project. It's a full on program where we're constantly trying to figure out what that means. Right. Because I think that is new, what employee experience means. And we're also trying to figure out what in these new ways of working, there are a lot of new things.

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Gerry Scullion (33:34.06)

which we need to figure out because the experience with someone who is hired to be remote and a lot of companies have that. Yeah. Is it different experience for someone who's always connected and near an office? And this is what I like. When my team start up, we ask, what is the digital twin of first class? Right. Because when someone is here and you eat the food, you meet people. And we did a tour earlier, right. The office.

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We can create a first -class experience in person. We're quite good at that. But what does it mean for the person who is not there? What is the equivalent of those things? And I think we don't know yet what it is. And it comes with a lot of creativity and testing and trying new things. But we do need to think about it in a different way. We cannot copy the in -person experience, what we know. And because we've always worked together in person and now we have this new flavor, we cannot copy this there.

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Because it has its own strength, its own experience. So we need to figure out what's the employee experience for the people who are often not there. What are they doing when we're touring, for example? Absolutely. So I'm going to start coming towards the end of this one, but I want to talk to you a bit more in the new office space. The new office space, one of the bits that several of the people that I was bringing around today from the class.

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the service design class that I was teaching for the last week, they really mentioned the fact that what you're learning here can then finally be moving from prototype into something that's much more high fidelity, like a fixed office that Miro are taking over in South of Amsterdam. So where are you at with this? And like, maybe tell us some of the key points that you've pulled out of this learning, living lab experience that it's going to define.

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what that looks like. It's a lab because we're learning, but we are learning. Do you lose something when you move to that space? Yeah. We're going to lose. What are we losing in particular? We are going to expand rooms and we're going to put teams closer to... Everyone listening, this is a mon...

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Gerry Scullion (35:58.828)

Monumental, canal adjacent, city center building. It's gorgeous. Beautiful, yeah. It's difficult. Today we were in a room and the air conditioning is not good. We were in the only room where a window can actually open. So it's open. Yeah. So we're going to a new building and I'm really happy about it for air conditioning and new cabling for sure. One of the learnings that we had from this building is that the workday is really complex.

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It is not just that you're coming to an office to collaborate and for social, the big chapters of it and good reasons to come in. But a workday has so much heads down work, so much focus time in it. It is throughout all of the different meetings. It has that where you just need to sit down with your laptop or have a one on one. This is the far majority of building blocks of a day. When we opened this office, we had 40 % of everything that we brought in were desks.

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And that was not enough. And now we're nearing 80%. So what does that tell you? That we had to get rid of a lot of meeting rooms, collaboration spaces. We wanted to make sure that we have, well, we had that flexibility, because we have that living concept. So we could easily just say that room, that room, that room, take out the couch, roll in a desk. Because that's what we need.

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So now we know that we needed that. And because now we have a better balance, it is more attractive to come to an office. So now we, I think the occupancy of this building is around 70%. Okay. Which is high, which is pretty high post pandemic. But it also, and do know this is Amsterdam. So it is cultural because everyone cycles in their commutes like 10 minutes. So it's easy for them to come in, right? In the States is completely different. So last question.

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And it's probably one that you're going to go, maybe you won't. I can walk out. I can walk away. Where's the off button? Do people have their own desks? Yeah. do people have their own desks? No. No, they don't. So hot desks. Not even the sea level, to be honest. They just sit wherever. So that's still gone in Miro. So you don't have a place, your own monitor. Because for designers, in particular, like I love having a big screen. Yeah. Well, they all have big screens. So that's how you countered it.

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Gerry Scullion (38:21.068)

Everyone has a big screen, then you plug in. And because we had that flexibility, we can just, we need five more here. Okay. We just added those. And the funny enough is when we opened this building, we didn't tell people where to go. We just said, it's open, sit wherever you want to work, right? And let us know what you need. And they did. But you still, you see that a lot of departments have this habit. They go to the elevator, go to the, I don't know, fourth floor.

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always sit in the same desk. It's not their desk, but it kind of claims it. No, not sales. It's more towards design, product engineering, that angle. They love to work in neighborhoods. I remember it was 2009, 2010, the first time I ever encountered hot desking. And they're like, that's going to be fine. And then the designers would be looking for little pockets of places to get together, like to have desks. And then a salesperson would get in beside them and they'd be like,

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Hello, how's it going? Can I speak to John today, please? And I'm like, shut up. I'm trying to do my job. Well, this is a funny thing. We had eight different typologies of rooms and one was the focus space, right? Large space, focus. So not a lot of talking. So we didn't bring up in a lot of acoustics. Because our thinking was you will hear yourself talk and it feel uncomfortable. Right. Yeah. The funny enough is sales claim that space. Right. Okay. And they do a lot of talking. So we brought in.

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one of those phone booths edits acoustics later on. Is that not like a likelihood, a likely scenario maybe with designers are coming in and then they're next to people who are chatters because they're extroverted and it's part of their role to be talking and like, we're trying to get that space even in the focus space. Is that something that one happens and two, if it is a case that it's OK to say, do you mind leaving? We're trying to get work done here. Why we didn't we didn't steer on this with the cool thing is organically.

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people found their own spaces where they felt comfortable. And what they also did is, we're here, the full team likes it, we just selected it ourselves. It would be great if we can add, I don't know, a whiteboard or a panel here or a committee. So people did kind of find their own kind of tribal space to set up. Even though it's in conflict with the plan. But imagine now fixed desks where I tell you, you go there and you're like, this is not nice. And they're talking.

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Gerry Scullion (40:44.332)

They're loud. Right. And now the feedback that you're going to give is more like, well, we don't like this space. Right. And it's more from a negative point. Yeah. Instead of, hey, we found this. I hope that's fine. It would be great if we can add this data. Why? Yeah. So it's a different way of providing feedback. And this was so cool for the workplace team because when they got that feedback, you're very inclined to help them out and you're going to...

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add stuff and they see you're adding and the rest sees you're there, they're getting stuff or they're going to ask and slowly bit by bit you're getting to something which is really cool and which really works and what doesn't work. Yeah, absolutely. Look, Sid, I'm going to wrap up this. I know people listening to this podcast are going to have questions for Sid. I'm going to put a link to Sid's LinkedIn into the show notes and the description if you're watching it on YouTube.

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people to reach out because I know Sid is really interested in what you're doing as well and if there's any questions I'm sure you're okay to answer. Again, listen, thanks for giving me your time, Renji. And you know, it's not easy to, you know, be put on the spot and for me to go left and right. So thanks for your vulnerability again for letting me do this. So yeah, I'll put your link there for LinkedIn. Thanks so much for your time. All right. Thanks, everyone. Thank you.

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John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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