In hindsight? I would have changed the working title sooner. Lesson learned.
Is there a way to take the burden of timesheet nagging off of our coworkers and improve completion rates?
We created DBSTL, a feature design for the timesheet entry program that frames data with empathy.
DBSTL is a friendly but motivating, environmental reminder that when you don’t complete timesheets you’re being pretty terrible to people that you care about.
For almost any agency, time sheets are a weekly pain point for everyone. We wanted to make it better so we experimented on ourselves.
Our hypothesis was simple. We think the program itself is a barrier, particularly for creative people who balk at repeatedly entering information into cells. It is easy for users to aim negative emotion at the program and engage in a sort of mini-protest by only completing time sheets when prompted. Several times.
Our solution needed to remind the agency that when you don’t complete time sheets, you’re not protesting Workamajig. You're being pretty terrible to actual people. People you like. (Hence the working title ...)
Also, accounting also has to send emails and walk around nagging grownups. We wanted Workamajig to shoulder some of that burden in a more effective way than emails, which are private and easy to ignore. What if we could make the DO YOUR TIMESHEET prompt a hard to ignore part of the environment ...
MAJOR DESIGN KEYS
1. Inspire empathy. Don’t demand compliance.
2. Automation. Don’t make extra work for the people we are trying to help.
Once we pulled the timesheet completion data, we brainstormed ways to express it to our coworkers. Pretty quickly, two camps emerged ...
You may or may not want to be considered to be a "nice" person. But almost no one wants to be considered to be actively inconsiderate to their coworkers. We decided that the latter would offer a certain degree of social pressure.
Uh, hence the working title ...
Interface design ideas that measured how shitty you were being included anthromorphic creatures that suffered when accounting did. There was a calendar that displayed the date of the most delinquent timesheet, the date that accounting is “stuck” in.
We also considered physical prototypes, such as rigging cubicle walls that measured accounting’s miseryby closing in on Lacie. That truly illustrates the urgency, but is kind of illegal-ish.
We decided that these ideas allowed the tardy parties to hide in the herd. We decided to add pressure by calling names.
THE FIRST WORKING DBSTL PROTOTYPE
Prominent screens in the agency point out who isn't currently being the best coworker ...
DBSTL pulled timesheet completion data, and sent the names of the tardy to prominent displays in the agency. Offenders were displayed in groups of Late, Later and Latest. When a staff member reached the final stage he or she would be called out individually.
Proper voice was key. Punitive tones inspire begrudging compliance, and a return to undesirable behavior. We decided the tone of the admonishments should be no harsher than, “C’mon, duuuuuuuuuude …”
REWARD & REMIND
In the initial prototype, when timesheets were 100% complete, the displays would run a slideshow of agency pets.
My non-developer mind attempts to communicate with developer mind. I like to think I was helpful. And the turtle belongs to Sergio, the art director on this project.
IMPROVEMENTS FOR NEXT ITERATION
1. More humans. We need a stronger reminder of what it does to our friends' workload/job performance when we don't complete timesheets.