Ideas and Validation March 24, 2020

Thoughts on Virtual Coworking?

Patrick Lorenzut @lorenzut

Hey all, I belong to two different online communities that do virtual coworking over Zoom. Basically you sign into a Zoom channel, turn off your Mic, and then work while other people can see your face. I like it, and think it helps me a ton both with accountability and loneliness. But it's not at all what Zoom was intended for, and there's a lot left to be desired in terms of the flow. So on Friday I started building remotefaces.com and today I just got it to MVP stage.

Very curious to hear if anybody finds this idea compelling. I do, personally, but obviously that's not enough to support a business :)

P.S. I also made a room just for the Indie Hackers community that you can join with this link: https://remotefaces.com/rooms/ih/Fq5ICUiqWiZlnkdCGijkAplk1

  1. 3

    Hey Patrick, I think there's room to some tools in that area.

    I've been using https://www.focusmate.com/ did about 400 sessions already since past October.

    1. 1

      Thanks @atrandafir. I used focusmate.com for a bit last year and then apparently completely spaced on it. Looking back, I remember quite liking it. Not sure why I stopped using it. 400 sessions is awesome!

  2. 2

    It's a lovely idea. We are literally doing the same thing with Zoom right now.
    It's completely alien for some people but we love it and makes us feel like we're all in the office together. If someone thinks of something funny we can just un-mute and say it. Asking questions is instantaneous and makes us feel like a live team.
    Good luck with your endeavors :-)

    1. 1

      Thanks so much @dogsbody!

      It's completely alien for some people

      Lol, I know right. I've tried to explain this phenomenon to a few non tech people and they just roll their eyes at me ;)

      We are literally doing the same thing with Zoom right now.
      I would love to replace Zoom for this sort of background-coworking use case. It's not there yet, but I think Remote Faces can be a better solution for most teams. Would you be willing to hop on a 30 minute call with me to discuss what features/etc might be needed before your team would consider making such a switch?

      1. 1

        Happy to chat. Drop me a mail to dan -=at=- dogsbody.com :-)

        1. 1

          The anti-spam game is strong in this one :) <--- will drop you a note after lunch, thanks!

  3. 2

    We actually have a tool called PukkaTeam that's does something similar, it uses the webcam to take an intermittent snapshot (instead of a constant video feed).

    1. 1

      Oh wow this is awesome! Not going to lie, feeling pretty disheartened right now as I genuinely thought I had something unique... but The Simpsons already did it :(

      Regardless, though, very very well done!

  4. 2

    I love it. For teams that want to ping and discuss something they are facing a problem. Also keeps people accountable. Though some may resist this as a way to keep tabs.

    I may not use because our teams aren't in sync and don't work at the same time, but I can see people who use it as a way to cause accountability

    1. 1

      Though some may resist this as a way to keep tabs.

      Thanks @ishwars. This is something I'm concerned about. If you sign up as a solopreneur, the accountability piece is 100% amazing. But if you're "forced" to sign up as part of a team, the accountability piece could feel Big Brother-y.

      Would you be willing to fire up a 15 minute call with me to talk about the accountability piece of this?

      1. 2

        Let me explain. If you still feel the need, I am happy to figure out a time

        There are two types of managers, the micro managers, non trusting, believe work will only be done if they breathe down employees necks.

        The other is the trusting, result oriented, I don't care what you do as long as work is done manager.

        There are enough numbers of both types. It boils down to culture.

        The former would normally struggle ina remote world, you are giving him a way to come back to his ways of managing deliveries.

        The latter may use this sparingly rather than as always on device.

        You could still give the latter an option of an always on non visual connection. Where you have the option to get face to face with a single ping

  5. 2

    Hey, awesome work. From creator to creator I must give you props.

    My 2 cents. It depends on how it's executed but I definitely love it.

    I like connecting with folks. Some benefits I got out of working at a co-working space in Mountain View. Were meeting potential co-founders. Hearing what others are up to. Making friends. Sharing ideas.

    If I could log in and have a set of high-quality folks who I could talk to when I want to validate something etc. It could be quite powerful. Also if I am feeling lonely.

    1. 2

      Thanks so much @storycreator!

      I just your post about your first sale, and... dude, you sound like somebody I'd be friends with. Would love to connect somehow/sometime.

      when I want to validate something
      Also if I am feeling lonely.
      I'd love to build some sort of "talk now" feature where you could be connected 1-on-1 with another (probably random) human, 24 hours a day (eventually), to talk about pretty much anything. Maybe that means bouncing an idea off someone that you just had while in the shower. Or maybe it means telling someone that you're having a tough day and just wanted someone to talk to. The quality of these people (in terms of listening skills) would matter hugely, of course.

      1. 1

        Yeah definitely dependant on having the right person on the receiving end.

        It should work more like a forum or use Reddit as an example. Having different channels to enter with different topics.

        You could start with entrepreneurship. Similar to Indie Hackers. Have sub-channels within that. Growth, milestones, mentorship, etc. I could enter one of these channels and have a video conversation.

        I.E This would have been much easier to speak than to type.

  6. 2

    Love the animated gif idea on the roadmap. That'd be interesting to see!

    Another idea that dovetails with the face-detection: add a feature to remind people to take breaks. I know that even though it helps my overall productivity, I have a real hard time taking breaks when I'm deep into something. This can be a good thing, but too much of a good this is a bad thing again, lol.

    Personally, I don't see myself using this, but I can see it being popular for teams and groups of friends. I think you're definitely on to something here. Good luck!

    1. 2

      Thanks @garudacrafts. I also have one helluva time taking breaks, even when I know I need to. That damn blue light is just too yummy!

      I was thinking about running things on a Pomodoro-like cycle. So maybe every 25-55 minutes the app prompts you to do some jumping jacks, or take a walk.

  7. 2

    Well, what you're building is the dream for every manager right now who's team is suddenly not outside their office window LOL.

    On a sidenote, I believe there is/will be a big demand for this for personal trainers and people who are now forced to workout in their living room or garage, and never have before. There was that list posted yesterday regarding Wefunder and home workouts is one of the categories to go after the $50K equity-free investment pathway to YC. My buddy is a group personal training pro and I'm pushing him to do it!

    1. 3

      Ooooh this would be really fun for workouts. Feel free to give your buddy my contact info if you want (on my profile page)!

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