After an intensive multi-week program,
Good Boss was born!
What is Good Boss? It’s an intuitive Chrome extension that helps people structure distraction-free time and proper breaks throughout their work sessions.
It was built by a passionate Project Manager (Nathanael), a talented Product Designer (Michele), and a skilled Software Developer (Omar) in the 2021 COLAB4 cohort.
We built it, because we needed it. Seriously.
The year is 2020. The future is uncertain. We’re faced with a global pandemic, and we are thrown (see: violent hurled) into a work-from-home environment. We may have underestimated how distracting it can be, and how hard it is to keep track of your own time. It’s not easy to keep yourself accountable to avoid overworking, or even to stay productive.
While there are tools that exist to assist with time management, the problem is that many of them assume a task-based workflow that requires linear task completion.
Clearly, there’s a problem. What next?
Well, let’s stop right there. We assumed there was a problem, but it’s very important to find out what everyone else thinks. And to do some research, to make sure there’s actually a problem.
So that’s exactly what we did. Here are some quotes from our interviews:
“This is my first week at my full-time [job] and I’ve never stepped away for a dedicated break.” - Tonya
“When I take a break, I have an elongated break… longer than I feel like I’m supposed to. After, I’ll probably get stressed and overwork until I go to sleep.” - Shahd
“It’s a thing of me not being as structured and organized as I’d like [and] not taking the right amount of breaks.” - Joe
While there are tools that exist to assist with time management, the problem is that many of them assume a task-based workflow that requires linear task completion. In our research, we also found that at least 50% of people prefer to multitask and work on multiple things at once, but nearly all have trouble balancing breaks with productive work.
Additionally, 98% of those surveyed who struggle with time management preferred to be accountable for their own time instead of by a boss or manager, but still desired structure, clear parameters, and encouragement during their work session. Their reasoning for this is because they valued flexibility and autonomy, especially when making significant progress with a particular task.
Lastly, most people liked to keep their phone out-of-sight while trying to focus. This means that developing a phone app may have been unhelpful.
So… clearly, there’s a problem… right?
We’d like to think so! Tonya, Shahd & Joe are not alone. We were able to sum the problem into three parts:
No breaks. Random breaks. Too short breaks. Too long breaks. Working overtime with no pressing reason to work overtime. And ultimately, no accountability. Sometimes we’re on our own!
How can we help people?
How might we create structured, distraction-free time and break schedules for people who work from home to encourage productivity and healthy work habits?
A solution we came up with is a tool that will provide timely reminders and notifications to take breaks based on user-defined timeframes. During this work session, the tool will act as a companion and guide with gentle reminders, words of encouragement, and suggested break times which can be deferred if needed to account for urgent tasks and maintain flexibility.
The solution should optionally allow users to invite a friend in their session for another layer of accountability.
We laboured, we toiled, we revised and revised again.
In our user testing, users enjoyed the simplicity and the calm UI, but preferred work and break cards in one screen. They also liked to have options for customization. We carefully considered their needs as we iterated and re-iterated to land on a solution that works.
Introducing Good Boss!
Link to Product: http://GOODBOSS.app
At last, we landed on the current iteration and MVP: allowing users to set time-parameters for their work session, and to set time-parameters for breaks and notifications. We have a big vision for Good Boss, but we’re proud of how far we’ve come!
We’re committed to listening to our users and refining our solution to help you take control of your own time.
Product Manager Learnings:
Especially when faced with deadlines, it’s important to quickly read the room: what kinds of personalities am I working with? What are the stakes? What can we really get done as a team? I learned that once you do the work to understand the tools and people you have, it becomes easier to make decisions and to adapt quickly.
Learn communication styles
Communicating my design process to my team early. We are learning how to speak each other’s different languages. I am more visual, our developer understands written communication very well, and our product manager is both! I appreciate how adaptable our product manager is and his use of software that is collaborative & visual to bring our team's ideas and communication cohesively.
It's one thing to say that you can get something done, but it's another to assure the others that you will reliably deliver. While it's important to keep all the details out from confusing others, it's also important to share a brief plan or a clear agenda of what you will be doing exactly to achieve what the others expect from you. This will not only assure people but in case there are future escalations from your end, you now have a starting point to bring up the escalation.
Full Team Learning
To echo Michele’s learning, communication is key! As a team, we learned how important it is to learn from each other and communicate more effectively. We’re looking forward to what the future holds for Good Boss!