Supporting on-demand motivation, accountability, and focus

Let me tell you a secret.

OK fiiiiine, I don’t know if it counts as a secret, since sometimes I bring it up if you happen to Groove with me, or some of my teammates. And we might ask for your advice….

The biggest design challenge we’ve faced since Groove’s inception is helping people Groove on demand at any time of day. You might think that’s not a big deal, but if you look at what goes into organizing spontaneous interactions, you’ll get why it’s a tricky challenge to solve.

Scheduling anything in advance (like, say, a focused co-working session, a client meeting, a haircut, an oil change for your car, etc.) — is easy to plan for, and it’s easier to manage logistics because you know in advance who is going to show up. This is why other companies doing similar things to Groove have you book your focus sessions in advance on a calendar type of interface. And those sessions start at predictable time slots — say, on the hour. (After all, has your hairdresser ever booked you in for 9:47 am? 5:33 pm? Probably not.)

What makes Groove unique is that we’re committed to helping people Groove whenever they want, and we’re always available. It’s challenging to coordinate synchronous work sessions on demand at any time of day because what are the chances that someone will be around to Groove with me at 10:32 pm or 8:54 am, at any time zone around the world? And more importantly, why do we take on this challenge?

At least that’s an easy question to answer!

We do it because we know that this is what makes Groove fun. When you feel super motivated to just hop in and get something done right now, that’s a big part of what makes it possible for you to achieve it. On an instinctive and human level, we know we’re more successful when we work with our own natural energies as opposed to trying to force ourselves into some external structure of discipline. (Of course, there are people for whom scheduling in advance works better than spontaneity! To each their own, we say.)

Another benefit of on-demand sessions we’ve learned from our community is that it’s especially helpful when you want to stay in your focus zone for an extended period of time, like an entire morning or a day. For example, after you’ve completed one Groove, you’re still in the zone, and you want to keep going, with that social accountability from others.

You don’t want to break your focused state to schedule another next session or wait 5–10 minutes for the next one that starts on the hour. Those few minutes are when you can really lose steam, which can feel frustrating when you’ve worked hard to get into your flow state. For this reason, Grooving back-to-back (aka Groove Trains) is a popular pastime we love.

Of course, as with anything difficult but worthwhile; if it were easy, everybody would have done it by now. Groove is proud to have been seeing some success over the past few months with reaching what’s called platform liquidity — that’s a fancy technical term that just means if you start a groove spontaneously at any time of day and any time zone in the world, there will be somebody to join you in a focused co-working session.

With a lot of hard work, we’ve been consistently improving Groove match rates over the past few months so that the weekly percentage of Grooves that don’t find matches has decreased from 23% to 12% between September 2022 — January 2023, and it’s continuing to decrease.

Fewer expired Grooves means you get the accountability you need, whenever you need it 💥

So how did we do it? After a short period of tearing our hair out, our efforts included:

  1. Tailoring the way that we send out notifications (timing and wording, so it’s concise and clear when relevant people start Grooves).
  2. Tweaking the way we highlight upcoming Grooves in the app home screen.
  3. Maximizing visibility of Grooves new people start (since they have a very small orbit).
  4. Manually outreaching and coordinating between people in different time zones.
  5. A lot of team hustle to see who’s having trouble and at what times of day.
  6. Capping maximum time you can wait for a match to 5 minutes (which is a window that gives enough time to let others know they can hop in, but not enough time for the person who started the Groove to forget about it and not show up).

We’re excited about the progress we’ve made, and we’re looking forward to continuing to improve our platform to help more people Groove on demand. If you have any other ideas, let us know! Or, if you live in a timezone that’s underrepresented on Groove (making it harder to find matches there), make a direct impact by inviting local freelancers and solopreneurs in your area.

And, if you haven’t joined us yet, come on over and Groove with us anytime.

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