This project required a team to design protection for future generations of homeworkers.
Over the past two decades, there has been a gentle increase in the number of home workers, but the pandemic accelerated a shift which saw a significant rise in just one year. As a result, companies are now preparing for a future of hybrid working even though it has many associated problems, including social isolation (which became my focus), overload and lack of physical activity.
A requirement was to study brands that could ‘stretch’ to address this problem and fit with the team’s values. The best fit was WeTransfer. Although wholly online, they fill the gaps once held by physical objects, such as files. We saw an opportunity to work with their creative and playful spirit and suggest a new market for them where physical products would enable sharing essential parts of work beyond files.
Each team member selected one of the critical issues around homeworking. I chose the social side of the office, which is lost from teams being physically separated.
59% deem their sense of work community to be worse by not being in the office (Ipsos MORI, 2020). The social side of work is struggling to exist when there is no ‘watercooler’ to chat over. In addition, being physically separated, not being able to see their teams, and only having digital means for connection mean workers struggle to stay motivated (McGregor and Doshi, 2020).
70% of workers believe their friendships are essential to work happiness (Schawbel, 2018). Removing the physical space to nurture these connections, I decided this was a design opportunity to allow them to form.
There is no physical communal space in a digital tomorrow to talk, nurture connections and build a team. So I broke down the minutia of the working day to identify critical moments where colleagues connect and bond. One of these was during the tea break. Designing around the kettle was favoured as it is vital from the start of the tea-making process. Therefore, the product could involve separated colleagues from the beginning of the break, maximising time spent together.
Benchmarking was used to gauge the CMF needed for the team and WeTransfer to have a cohesive aesthetic.
The human resemblance felt like having a companion during the call and played into the light hearted nature of the WeTransfer brand.
All contact points were considered, including accepting, ending and declining calls. Fundamental interactions include dialling by pressing buttons around the shoulder with colleagues’ initials, and accepting the call by rotating the handle.
The project was significant as it required teamwork and large research sections. But it was successful as it provided experience in distributing work based on people’s strengths.
Ipsos MORI (2020) Working post-COVID. Available at: https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/majority-those-working-home-are-not-finding-it-challenging-many-miss-co-workers-technology. [no place]: Ipsos MORI.
Made in Brunel (2022) Detail. [fig.] From the library of Made in Brunel.
McGregor, L. and Doshi, N. (2020) How to Keep Your Team Motivated, Remotely. Available at: https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-to-keep-your-team-motivated-remotely. [Accessed 24 February 2022].
Schawbel, D. (2018) Why work friendships are critical for long-term happiness. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/13/why-work-friendships-are-critical-for-long-term-happiness.html [Accessed 24 February 2022].
Yellow foam modelling was used to analyse proportions.
Technical drawings were drawn in SolidWorks.
The model was made from Pink PU Foam and Acrylic. Traditional techniques were used, such as milling and sanding; then hand finished with spray painting and decals.
Design Tags: Industrial | Research | CAD | Prototyping | Model Making