Wiredscore, the always brilliant international connectivity certification agency, recently challenged the world of PropTech, and beyond, to take part in the Wiredscore Unplugged Challenge and spend an entire working day, on February 12th, completely offline, completely devoid of any sort of internet connection.
Among those to take up the challenge was our CEO, Oli Farago. To be perfectly honest, none of us thought he stood a chance and, according to Lucy Alderson from EG who was also taking part in the challenge, he was struggling straight from the get-go!
“This morning I woke up and went to use the internet four times in the first 15 minutes before stopping myself,” Oli told Lucy. “Running a software company, everything I do – no exaggeration – uses the internet. My productivity has definitely gone down – I can’t do most of what I want to do.”
The limitations of being unplugged were clear from the moment Oli opened his eyes in the morning, and by the time lunch arrived and he sat down to give us, the guys in the office, an update on his progress, it was clearly causing an otherwise normal day to feel very strange indeed.
“It’s definitely more relaxing,” Oli said, “or is it more stressful? I don’t know. It’s hard to tell.
“Perhaps for one single day it’s quite relaxing, but that’s because I’ve been able to plan out exactly what I need to do and where I need to be throughout the day. Any longer than that and the stress would likely mount.
“Even later today – I know that it’s going to be a problem at half-5 when we all go into the pub to debrief all of this with Wiredscore and the time comes when everyone can plug in again.
“Everyone will be able to switch their phones on and sort their stuff out but not me. I know that, as soon as I switch on, I’m going to have about 100 unread emails and 30 messages from 10 different Slack channels, all of which will require some sort of action to be taken.
“Just because I’m unplugged today, everyone else is going on as normal. I’ve just had to set up an out-of-office reply. Despite this, people will still be waiting to hear from me.
“For example, as I went to bed last night I was messaging people in New York. Then, as I slept, they were still up and working, replying to my messages. Because I’m not able to read and reply at all today, it’s going to have been about 24hrs by the time they hear from me. That doesn’t sit well. It’s not a good feeling.
“On the other hand, I think about when I travel for work and I’m jet-lagged so unread emails and messages pile up – it never takes all that long to eventually sort through them all.
“I bet it only takes me about an hour to work through everything waiting for me this evening, whereas on any normal day, responding to the same amount of messages could take up to four hours because you’re constantly flipping from one thing to another, distracted and pulled in another direction in between every sentence you type. Tonight, I will be able to be fully ‘on task’ and therefore be far more efficient.”
We asked Oli if there was one key thing he was learning from his unplugged day, he thought for a while and then told us the following story.
“It was interesting – this morning we had a partner meeting with a company who was going to present their solution. I couldn’t Zoom (video conference) in, so I just dialled in via the phone.
“It was really fascinating to hear someone going through their deck and then presenting their solution while only hearing what they’re saying, not see what they’re showing. I found it almost impossible to know what was going on and I have come away without really knowing what their product is.”
At this point, Johnnie Sims, another member of the Coyote team who was in the same meeting but not taking part in the unplugged challenge and therefore able to see and hear what was going on, pipes up to say that he has come away knowing exactly what the product is.
“There you have it,” Oli continues, “it makes clear how important it is to be able to see and visualise things rather than just hear about them.
“So, perhaps there are two big takeaways so far from this challenge. First, UX and UI are even more vital than I realised, designing the visual journey through a service or platform. Second, and perhaps even more important, it has highlighted just how important your messaging is. Stripped of any visual aids, is your message still clear and your value proposition still obvious?
“If nothing else, so long as my memory of this experience works as a constant reminder of these two ideas, it will have been worth every minute.”
You can read more about the results of the WIredscore Unplugged Challenge, and read the feedback from some of the other participants, here.