November 2020: Shamsi Iqbal

As our work environments and work practices rapidly evolves as a result of the changing landscape of work, what we envision as the future of work is being fundamentally challenged. Research in the area of productivity and multitasking has to adapt to the changing world anticipating what the future may look like – in particular taking into account growing needs of balancing work and life. My research has focused on redefining productivity where doing work is no longer confined to being at a desk and the need to do things while on the go or while in divided attention scenarios continues to dominate. Our team at Microsoft Research has looked at how complex tasks can be done without having to allocate larger chunks of time, rather, make use of seemingly unusable ‘micromoments’ – by decomposing a task into smaller tasks that can be done in a few moments. This work brings together theories from cognitive science, human computer interaction and artificial intelligence. I will discuss a few ongoing projects in this area and present directions for research and product development.

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