Remote collaborations

How to improve collaboration remotely – from a user perspective


Remote collaborations in companies are today more frequently used as a consequence of increasing cross-national business and the benefits of cost, time and environmental impact reductions as a consequence. Nevertheless, it has been shown that remote collaborative meetings do not live up to the alternative of meeting in person in matters of effectiveness.

The aim of this master thesis project is to investigate the remote meeting situation at two multinational, development companies and by the found data create a solution that supports remote collaboration. The project focus has been to identify existing user needs in remote meeting situations and to translate these into either a physical or digital product. The project has been carried out on behalf of Ericsson AB and Semcon AB and supported by several other stakeholders, part of the external project MERCO. The findings display the need for considering the social context and to challenge the existing meeting culture to facilitate collaboration and increase individual motivation within the meeting environment.

The importance of facilitating and encouraging creativity and interaction throughout the meeting has been found as crucial when aiming for creating a collaborative environment remotely. Therefore, the final result of this master thesis project includes a framework with factors of how to enable informality within the meeting context, aiding designers and product developers how to work with informality as an important factor for facilitating communication. The project process has been carried out through literature and user studies several concept ideas were created as a result of the found user needs.

By consulting meeting participants related to the concepts intended users and the MERCO objectives could one final concept be taken further into developing an early digital prototype, aimed for supporting the collaborative process when meeting remotely. The final developed concept is a software program that is supporting remote collaboration by including functions that supports increased interactivity and inclusiveness within the remote meeting. Functions to visually display participants even though the network connection is low, to capture important aspects within the meeting and allowing the participants to interact with the displayed artifacts during the meeting is some of the developed functions incorporated within the software. An early prototype was developed to test some of the functions during remote collaboration. Further development will be required to design more of the software program functions and to test it thoroughly. The project findings means to support the following MERCO project to take the software program to new levels of development and market adaption.

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