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Portray

Communication Catalyst for New Workforce Era

MA 2020/2022
Keywords
Remote Work, Liquid Workforce, Communication, Loneliness, Team Bond, Meaningful Relationship
Overview

Portray is a web-based service which helps a team onboard new members and builds meaningful relationships by encouraging informal communication and building members' profiles through the conversation. It works on the chat tool you typically use, such as Slack or MS Teams, along with web apps, so you can start using it smoothly without switching anything you are used to, just by adding Portray app to your existing communication tool.

Unlike other services, Portray covers a wide range of demands, from getting to know people and building meaningful relationships to sensing signs of isolation.

Portray is a powerful communication catalyst for an emerging remote and liquid workforce.

Now we are developing an app. Find the detail and get in touch here.

Collaboration

Softwire is one of the UK's most well-respected boutique digital design, delivery and support agencies and is recognised as one of the UK's best mid-sized companies to work for.

Softwire collaborated with Yosuke as they both explored the potential of a new form of work that allows workers more flexibility and autonomy in the coming new workforce era.

BACKGROUND & CHALLENGE

BACKGROUND: The emerging remote and liquid workforce

The workforce is becoming more flexible not only geographically but also organisationally.

As we know, the Coronavirus pandemic sparked the irreversible shift towards remote work. In addition, we now see a workforce that is involved in multiple projects at the same time or those who develop their career switching projects or organisations that they are engaged in flexibly like liquid.

In the near future, we will be working on multiple projects from anywhere simultaneously, moving from one organisation to another more frequently.

CHALLENGE: LONELINESS

As new workstyles emerge, so do new challenges. Among a number of challenges around remote and liquid workforce, loneliness is one of the biggest but still underestimated despite its significant negative impact not only on our health but also on the team bonds, morale and performance.

Loneliness is an urgent issue to address for the remote and liquid workforce, particularly in terms of the following three aspects.

1. Journeys into loneliness will likely begin during the transition and change, such as starting a new career. As a liquid workforce experiences change more often, they are more vulnerable to loneliness.

2. Loneliness causes a strong down cycle in relationships. Once we become lonely, we will be overly critical of ourselves and those around us and start self-defeating behaviour that diminishes our current connection. Although it's significantly important to detect signs in the early stages for prevention of down cycle, remote working settings make it difficult since we're physically separated and hardly see others' faces.

3. Loneliness is contagious. A person who is lonely affects other people around to lonely. It means if someone in the team becomes lonely, other members can be lonely too, and eventually, it impacts the whole team negatively, such as low morale.

KEY INSIGHTS

Through primary research,we've got two important insights which revealed the underlying dynamics behind loneliness in remote work settings.

Overall, remote work settings can cause a negative engagement cycle by making members' situations invisible and deterring spontaneous conversation. New hires are the most vulnerable to the cycle.

1. Lack of informal communicationcauses a negative cycle for teamrelationships that new hires can be easily trapped

Informal communication tends to be neglected in a remote work setting, although it is as important as formal communication, especially for new hires to develop meaningful relationships. If a new member cannot build sufficient connections in the company in the first few months, they will likely fall into a negative cycle of relationships. They would end up with poor engagement and isolation.

 

2. The gap in demands and lack ofthe moment for small talk prevents newbies from expanding their network

However, not all members desire informal chats as much as new members do. Depending on their personalities,careers and life stages, some would rather focus on their job without distraction than connect with new members, while others are busy with consecutive meetings.

We found that such a gap in demands among employees requires newbies' more determined effort for thechances for small talk, which may lead to meaningful relationships. Remote work settings make it even harder as employees cannot see colleagues' faces to grasp a moment for a chat.

As a result, many new employees struggle to develop meaningful relationships in the company by themselves.

DESIGN DIRECTION

How might we transform a negative engagement cycle into a positive one, by developing a meaningful relationship and preventing loneliness in the coming remote and liquid workforce era?

SOLUTION

Portray: a communicationcatalyst for a new workforce era

Portray is a web-based service which helps a team onboard new members and builds meaningful relationships by encouraging informal communication and building members' profiles through conversation. It works on the chat tool you typically use, such as Slack or MS Teams, along with web apps, so you can start using it smoothly without switching anything you are used to, just by adding Portray app to your existing communication tool.

Unlike other services, Portray covers a wide range of demands, from getting to know people and building meaningful relationships to sensing the sign of isolation.

Portray is a powerful communication catalyst for an emerging remote and liquid workforce.

 

Three easy steps for meaningfulconnection and team bond

Step 1: Get in touch by"ASK & SHARE"

When you join a chat tool ofyour new team, Portray chatbot welcomes you and asks a few easy questions which may represent you.

Questions range from your life and interest to professional skills and experience. You can answer them whenever you like, or just skip them if you're not in the mood.

Later, answers are shared with your colleagues so that you can kick off the conversation with them naturally.

 

Step 2: Know people by"GROWING PROFILE"

Your answers will also bestored in your profile; this means you can enrich your profile page simply bychatting with the bot!

Team members can see your pageanytime, and so can you. You can find someone who has common interests or expertise you want to learn.

 

Step 3: Meaning relationship by"MATCH & CHAT"

With such rich profiles,Portray can find a potential buddy for you based on common interests,backgrounds or experience and arrange a coffee chat by checking the calendars.Only what you need to do is pick a time and enjoy a chat.

You can build meaningful relationships with your colleagues without bothering them or pushing yourself!

 

Extra: Sense potential isolation by SOCIAL GRAPH VISUALISER

Even if you fell out of the positive engagement cycle for some reason, Portray can help you and your manager to get you back on the preferable track.

Portray creates a social graph of your team by analysing conversations on chat and understanding who communicateswith whom, how often, and in what context.

Your manager can notice by seeing the graph (access can be restricted to those who are in the appropriate position) if you might be becoming isolated and take appropriate action.

 

FEATURE EXPANSION

Portable Profile

As portray grows and is introduced to many organisations, it will start to allow you to bring your grown profile to your new stage. That means you can build relationships with new colleagues and show your skill immediately.

SPECIAL
THANKS

I want to express my appreciation for my tutor, Judah, 's continuous encouragement and inspirational advice and my family's dedicated support for my study under such a difficult situation during the pandemic.

Also, many thanks to all participants and contributors to workshops, interviews and surveys. I couldn't complete my project without all of your help.

Team