With the growing trend among businesses to allow employees to work from home for some or all of their time, it is becoming easier for the lines between working and personal life to be blurred. We were inspired to make Work Break because there is a lack of skills that facilitate healthy rest periods, when someone is working for an extended period of time. Having a skill that reinforces the role that a break plays in a work day, and gives a variety of suggestions for how that break can be spent, seemed like a really good idea.
What it does
When Work Break is opened, it gives the user a choice between an activity, a stretch, or a snack idea. Once the user chooses how they'd like to spend their break, it provides a suggestion for what they could specifically do. For example, if they request a stretch break, it will provide them an example stretch they can do, right from their desk or home office. Similarly, it will provide specific activities and snack ideas if either of those is requested.
How I built it
I began by brainstorming what sorts of things a person might want to do on a quick break from work. I came up with three general categories initially. These included a stretch break, an activity break, and a snack break. I then dug into each category to build out a list of options for each category. Once I had the concept well-defined, I went to the Storyline console to put it all together. After I had a basic version of the skill put together, I did some beta testing. I included people who worked at home just an hour or two per day, and those that worked more than nine hours per day. I asked for input regarding the activities that they did, and while I learned that using technology was a common activity among participants, I determined that I did not want to include a tech break in this skill, at least at this time. The feedback from the beta test was invaluable. I was able to make several significant modifications to my skill as a result of the feedback that I received. I have fine tuned the skill a bit more and continue to solicit feedback from beta testers as I do so.
Challenges I ran into
I was really struggling to determine what format a skill like this would need to be in to best meet the needs of people who work from home on a regular basis. I initially had listed each of the choices for each option, but through beta testing, learned that having a randomly selected option will get a user into their break quicker, and will give them a bit more variety in their breaks than having them choose their own each time.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I am really excited about how the testing for this skill went. I was able to engage with a pilot group before this skill went live, going back-and-forth with regards to some design decisions. Having the opportunity to refine a skill before it is even real is more than I could have asked for or expected. And the input really impacted the final product. The concept was fairly straightforward, but the execution could have gone a number of different directions. I am really pleased with the end result, and I think it will be a really beneficial skill to it's target audience.
What I learned
I learned a lot about beta testing through the development of this skill. First of all, identifying who the target demographic is, and ensuring that those are the folks I am listening to. In addition, I learned that I need to be a bit more specific when asking for potential beta testers' contact information. With respect to this skill, I needed to be collecting email addresses associated with Amazon accounts, but had not made that clear up-front. Finally, I learned that even though I might have a concept or idea in mind, having more input into the final product can really change my thinking in some significant ways and help create a skill that will resonate better with a broader audience.
What's next for Work Break
I plan to continue to leverage feedback, once this skill has been live for some time, to include additional options for work breaks. I also plan to refine and expand upon the random choices within each option, to ensure it remains a dynamic skill that users can interact with differently each time they use it. I am also looking into different ways to remind users of the skill to take a break throughout their work day. Having a skill to use when you decide to take a break is a great start - having a skill that can tell you when a break would be a good idea would take it to the next level.