Hybride Arbeit oder alle zurück ins Büro? [German article]

Abraxas, a leader in innovative and secure ICT solutions for Swiss government agencies, recently invited me to write an article on how organizations can leverage hybrid work as a market advantage and to better balance focus and teamwork, while at the same time ensuring data privacy and security, especially nowadays with the omnipresent AI tools, such as ChatGPT. The article appeared online and in-print in the Abraxas Magazine.

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DSI Insights: New Work oder die Balance zwischen Fokusarbeit und Teamwork [German article]

This German article was written as a collaboration with the Digital Society Initiative of the University of Zurich and first published on Inside IT, later on UZH News.

New Work erlaubt mehr Flexibilität beim Organisieren und Strukturieren der eigenen Arbeit. Dies kann zwar zu erhöhter Produktivität führen, aber die Teamarbeit leidet öfters darunter. Wie geht das unter einen Hut?

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How to Organize your Workday for increased Focus at Work

As knowledge workers, we rely on our ability to concentrate and complete our tasks efficiently and effectively. However, with the constant influx of new information, interruptions from co-workers asking for help and distractions, it can be a major challenge to stay in focus for more than a few minutes at a time. Balancing all the different activities and duties and constantly recovering from interruptions throughout the day can be taxing on workers, resulting in higher stress, reduced motivation and more errors. In addition, finding such a balance can be challenging due to intricacies of everyday work, such as unplanned tasks or problems coming up, the natural need to collaborate frequently within and across teams, personal preferences on when and how to communicate and work, as well as trends towards remote/hybrid work.

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Publication: Performance of DCNN for MRI-based vertebral body measurements and insufficiency fracture detection

Co-Authors: Christoph Germann, André Meyer, Matthias Staib, Reto Sutter, Benjamin Fritz.

I am thrilled to share that my first peer-reviewed non-software engineering publication was just published, in European Radiology! It is one of the outcomes of my work as Head of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Management at ScanDiags, a Swiss AI-company that specializes on building AI-software that supports radiologists with the detection, measuring and diagnosis of musculoskeletal MRI.

You can access the open access publication directly on Springer.

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Experimenting with Walk Meetings and Creativity-boosting Walks

A couple of years ago, I’ve started experimenting with walk meetings for the first time, and briefly wrote about them in my blog. Little did I know back then that I would suddenly have way more time to walk, and that being outside was the only relatively safe way to talk to people face-to-face, and to limit risking an infection with COVID-19.

At work, spending an entire day in meeting rooms at the office or in a Teams or Zoom-meeting at the home office is certainly not very appealing, and spending that time sitting is actually quite unhealthy. After all, our bodies are not made for sitting, but we’re nonetheless sitting on average 9.3 hours a day, and this was before the pandemic!

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Podcast Episode on Developers’ Diverging Perceptions of Productivity

Recently, Abi Noda and I talked about our Book chapter in the ‘Rethinking Productivity in Software Engineering‘ book on our research to better understand software developers’ perceptions of productivity, and how these insights might be applied by managers and team leads in software teams.

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DIZH Grant on “Fostering Productive Work in Hybrid Workplaces through an Ambient Display”

I am really excited to announce the acceptance of a grant from DIZH, the digitalization initiative of the Zurich higher education institution. The rapid action grant aims to have rapid impact on the economy and/or society of the greater Zurich area and elsewhere. Since our successful study a few years back, we have been looking for opportunities to allow professionals and companies to obtain and use the FlowLight, given the frequent requests that we still receive to date. The DIZH’s call for having rapid impact and the pandemic-enforced shifts to a more hybrid workplace scenarios are the perfect opportunity to make the FlowLight available to the greater public. We are very much looking forward to this project.

On our project page, you can learn more about this rapid action project.

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How to obtain the Scrum.org Product Owner (PSPO 1) Certification

Since a few colleagues asked me how I’ve prepared for my recent Scrum.org Product Owner certification, I am summarizing my preparation for easy reference. Note that I’ve passed the exam in November 2021, it might have changed since then.

First of all, I want to emphasize that the exam tests that you’ve understood the theoretical foundation and basic processes of being a Scrum Product Owner (PO) in theory. In my opinion, it’s much more important to actually work as a PO in practice, learn with and from your teams, and grow with them as the processes and product matures.

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Remotely collaborating on knowledge exchange & learning during a Pandemic

Staying motivated and continuing information flow and knowledge exchange is very challenging during a pandemic, especially for teams which are not used to the remote-only setting.

In this blogpost that we published in the Balzano Informatik AG Blog, I write about the four new tracks we’ve introduced at Balzano Informatik AG to foster continuous learning and knowledge exchange for our work on ScanDiags.

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Smart Energy: Hourly PV Power Output Predictions in Pre-Alpine Terrain in Switzerland

While I am usually performing research in Software Engineering and HCI, I am happy to present a first milestone that we’ve reached in our Smart Energy project at MIT Coaching. In our Lab32, we are building photovoltaic (PV) power output predictions in the pre-alpine terrain of Switzerland.

To that purpose, we used actual PV power output data as ground truth, and use meteorological forecast data (such as temperature, global irradiance, clouds) as well as PV system data (such as location, tilt, type of modules and inverters) to build predictive models based on artificial neural networks (ANN), that are able to forecast the future PV power output on a intra-day horizon of 12-24 hours.

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Enabling Good Work Habits in Software Developers through Reflective Goal-Setting

I am thrilled to announce our most recent paper on how we are helping developers become more productive and enable better work habits through reflective goal-setting. IT was recently accepted to the IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering Journal.

Co-Authors: André N. Meyer (University of Zurich), Gail C. Murphy (University of British Columbia), Thomas Zimmermann (Microsoft Research), Thomas Fritz (University of Zurich).

You may download the pre-print here.

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Book: Rethinking Productivity in Software Engineering

I am proud to have been given the chance to author three chapters in our new productivity book, which is the result from a thought-provoking and discussion-intensive Dagstuhl Seminar in 2017. It was edited by Caitlin Sadowski and Thomas Zimmermann, and is available for free (OpenAccess). In the book, software engineering researchers review and discuss productivity, by covering definitions and core concepts related to productivity, guidelines for measuring productivity in specific contexts, best practices and pitfalls, and theories and open questions on productivity. You’ll benefit from the many short chapters, each offering a focused discussion on one aspect of productivity in software engineering.

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Today was a Good Day: The Daily Life of Software Developers

I am excited to announce that another paper that I’ve worked on during my second internship at Microsoft Research was just accepted to the IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering Journal.

Abstract: What is a good workday for a software developer? What is a typical workday? We seek to answer these two questions to learn how to make good days typical. Concretely, answering these questions will help to optimize development processes and select tools that increase job satisfaction and productivity. Our work adds to a large body of research on how software developers spend their time. We report the results from 5971 responses of professional developers at Microsoft, who reflected about what made their workdays good and typical, and self-reported about how they spent their time on various activities at work. We developed conceptual frameworks to help define and characterize developer workdays from two new perspectives: good and typical. Our analysis confirms some findings in previous work, including the fact that developers actually spend little time on development and developers’ aversion for meetings and interruptions. It also discovered new findings, such as that only 1.7% of survey responses mentioned emails as a reason for a bad workday, and that meetings and interruptions are only unproductive during development phases; during phases of planning, specification and release, they are common and constructive. One key finding is the importance of agency, developers’ control over their workday and whether it goes as planned or is disrupted by external factors. We present actionable recommendations for researchers and managers to prioritize process and tool improvements that make good workdays typical. For instance, in light of our finding on the importance of agency, we recommend that, where possible, managers empower developers to choose their tools and tasks.

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Design Recommendations for Self-Monitoring in the Workplace: Studies in Software Development

I am excited to announce my first paper to the CSCW conference!

Abstract: One way to improve the productivity of knowledge workers is to increase their self-awareness about productivity at work through self-monitoring. Yet, little is known about expectations of, the experience with, and the impact of self-monitoring in the workplace. To address this gap, we studied software developers, as one community of knowledge workers. We used an iterative, user-feedback-driven development approach (N=20) and a survey (N=413) to infer design elements for workplace self-monitoring, which we then implemented as a technology probe called WorkAnalytics. We field-tested these design elements during a three-week study with software development professionals (N=43). Based on the results of the field study, we present design recommendations for self-monitoring in the workplace, such as using experience sampling to increase the awareness about work and to create richer insights, the need for a large variety of different metrics to retrospect about work, and that actionable insights, enriched with benchmarking data from co-workers, are likely needed to foster productive behavior change and improve collaboration at work. Our work can serve as a starting point for researchers and practitioners to build self-monitoring tools for the workplace.

Co-Authors: André N. Meyer (University of Zurich), Gail C. Murphy (University of British Columbia), Tom Zimmermann (Microsoft Research), Thomas Fritz (University of Zurich)

You can download the pre-print here.

PersonalAnalytics, our self-monitoring tool, is available on Github here.

Goodbye, Picturex

It is with a deep regret that we announce that we will shutdown our beloved service, Picturex. We started Picturex almost five years ago, with a small team of passionate and experienced engineers and IT-professionals at MIT Cloud Innovation AG. Over the years, we have tried to follow our vision of making photo sharing private, secure and easy.

It has been a fantastic journey for us, we have learnt a lot, and we want to THANK YOU, our valued users, supporters, testers and partners, for giving us the opportunity to serve you! 😍

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