Reimagining productivity

A core discovery about knowledge work is how implicit and social a workplace can become. A ‘kitchen conversation’ is what occurs in the work office when one takes a rest, heads to the kitchen, and pauses for a casual conversation with whoever happens to be around.

Kitchen conversations hold no expectations of privacy, and they aren’t always about completing a task for work.

They seem to work best when people can add a thought, ask a question, provide an example, or change the subject with a bit of humour or trivia. There’s plenty of room for wandering within a kitchen conversation. The creative commons is essential to work regardless of setting. Because it is where the social life of the company pours the foundation for more delicate or argumentative decision making that needs to happen.

Kitchen conversations may look like they are all about rest. But they are outlets for creative expression. They are how we prototype new ideas and build new forms of awareness.

One approach that is growing rapidly is through the use of a multiplayer mode in software tools. Whether you watch someone’s cursor in Miro, Figma, or Google Docs, multiplayer tools enable shadowing others while thinking or making as an individual. Advances in neuroscience indicate that people learn fastest when others show first and tell later. See the TED Talk here.

Design in context: When teams are distributed remotely, people also need social glue for thinking aloud with others, without the expectation of certainty.