Microsoft Teams and Zoom have a shiny new competitor (if you know how to lip-read)


To concentrate. They talk about you.

Screenshot by ZDNet

What do remote employees really want?

Oh, what does anyone really want?

More time, more money, more love and more paths to happiness.

Technology, for all its genius, hasn’t quite succeeded in delivering all of these things. Especially during the pandemic.

As many employees worked from home, they got used to sitting on Microsoft Teams and Zoom calls for hours every day.

It was tiring. It seemed there was no time for casual conversation. Or, better yet, deeply sourced corporate gossip.

You could sit in so-called happy hour events, but only one person at a time could talk. And that person usually spoke for at least half of the event, because their greatest joy was hearing their own voice.

So I was momentarily rendered insane when I was assaulted by a new product. Or, rather, by the public relations of this new product.

“You have to watch this,” they shouted. How can you resist such an elegant plea?

It turned out that this thing is called Watercoolr. And he emerges from a company called Shindig.

Ideally, there is a YouTube video. He’s voiced by the kind of actor who might be more comfortable voicing a commercial for an uncomfortable digestive ailment.

Perhaps, however, it’s a fitting cast. Because here, we are talking about pain.

“Healthy relationships between colleagues are strained,” the pained voice whispers. “Lunch in the conference room, quick coffee breaks and visits to your favorite colleague down the hall have all been wasted.”

This man could easily voice the Oscars In memory segment.

He talks about teamwork. While the video shows a group yoga session. Was that what your office was like before?

But let’s get to the point of Watercoolr. It’s “a new way to foster community and casual conversation among today’s virtual workforce.”

“How,” I hear you yelling, “can he do that?”

Well, your teams all come together on one screen. Then they team up and enter private rooms.

Wait, it’s not quite like that, although I guess it could be. Instead, you click on a colleague’s picture and then offer them a private chat. Or join the conversation they’re already in. It’s like a big party where you can network at your leisure. Or, perhaps, does not work.

You may think you’ve heard a version of it before. I did too. But then I heard the delicious part.

Shindig Founder and CEO Steve Gottlieb told me, “Zoom, Teams, Bluejeans and all the others are built around a single audio channel and a single conversation, in which everyone participates. It’s a simple star architecture. Works great for 4, 6, or 8 participants. Not so good for 14, 16, 18.”

But isn’t that why companies hold breakout sessions?

Gottlieb explained, “Isolated predefined private chats are completely different from being in a private chat that’s part of a shared experience. A group chat doesn’t allow you to see all the other things going on in the event. or lets you easily move chat-to-chat or merge groups or bring people into your chat at will.”

So you can see everyone else who has a little private gossip? Yes you can. The company says the technology “allows an array of private conversations to take place simultaneously, with one being able to see but not hear the other conversation groups.”

You can watch their lips move but not hear what they say. Oh, the possibilities of enlightenment.

Instantly, I see people being trained in lip reading. Finally, they will be able to “hear” what their colleagues really think about everything. Including, perhaps, them. You would be amazed at what people are saying about you behind your back.

I imagine people “hearing” what someone else just said about them in another group and immediately trying to join that group to ask, “What did you just say about me? ? »

What a brilliant and subversive way to foster employee engagement and establish open management.

Bosses turn to these things too. Is not it?

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