This week, we talk to Ben Flux and Karina Castex, co-creators of the app Mindfulmeets. The chrome browser extension provides tools that can help improve one’s digital wellbeing and lessen the impact of Zoom fatigue that has affected many people who spend much of their remote working time in attending online meetings over Zoom. Hailing from different environments, Ben and Karina shared a common passion for making real change; Mindfulmeets is a result of this collaboration.
ISB: How did the idea for Mindfulmeets come about?
We created Mindfulmeets after seeing colleagues struggling with prolonged screen time during the pandemic. Having a tech team situated globally, we were needing to navigate different time zones, varying lifestyles, and the day-to-day realities of working remotely. With the pandemic forcing people apart, we started to think of ways to simulate the in-person interactions we had been missing that help us survive the workday. The extension currently lets you put yourself “on hold”, add meeting agendas, see the profile of all attendees, share emojis and gifs, see everyone’s time zones, and allows for a graceful meeting entry and exit with helpful prompters visible to everyone on the call.
ISB: Why is it important to address the problem of Zoom fatigue?
As humans, we need technology that considers how we operate and live as well as the value of time. Without face-to-face interactions, we’re seeing an increase in people feeling overwhelmed, irritable and anxious – presenting a challenge to most modern workplaces. Zoom fatigue is an extension of this. With video meetings inescapable, the reality of mental fatigue poses a real threat to users’ mental health and the productivity of businesses and education providers.
ISB: Was there any daunting challenge that you faced as you were developing Mindfulmeets and how did you get past it?
We faced the same challenges that our users face regarding working remotely, lock downs and frequent video meetings, we used this problem to help shape the product into solving our own needs at the same time as our for our users. The interface to the video platforms can change without notice, we needed to be prepared to spot any breaking changes bugs 24/7 so that we could solve them before our users can see them. We solved this with hiring a QA and automating our QA process.
ISB: One interesting feature of the app is allowing the use of GIFs and emojis, why do you feel it is important to add that feature?
We conducted research that identified the top frustrations experienced by remote workers as overrun and unstructured meetings, the lack of quality social interaction, and a sharp increase in the number of meetings. By adding GIFs and emojis, we created a fun way of adding a little “humanity” and quirk to a conversation as well as lightening up a meeting. It’s a great way to engage and show your authentic, individual personality.
ISB: What updates to the app do you hope to bring in for the next year of two?
We recently introduced a clever video loop, called “On Hold”, so you can sneak away from your Zoom calls without anyone realising. With this feature, you can record a short video loop so you can appear present while you grab a coffee or answer the door. We are releasing sound effects to bring more joy to the dullest of meetings in the next few days. Long term, we are planning deeper integration with the video platform software to provide the benefits to the users that conduct their meetings outside of the web browser on their desktops and looking at how we tackle users on their mobile devices.
ISB: What is the most important lesson in this journey have you learned that other entrepreneurs can learn from as well?
Be prepared to pivot and adapt, don’t commit to commercial agreements that could outlive the projects current requirements. Also. automate or hire a QA to maintain ongoing quality control early in the life of the project.