The human touch: how user-centered design drives transformation

Events | 4 December, 2018

Don’t get too distracted by the promise of hoverboards and robots. If you want to know the true catalyst of futuristic transformation, the answer is simple: People.

Diverse solutions, the same goal

At WorkTech Basel, held on November 8th at our friend’s impressive event space, Launchlabs, Studio Banana co-founder Key Kawamura joined some of Switzerland’s most influential changemakers to facilitate greater understanding and action around the ever-evolving workplace and technology’s role within it. As the foundation partners responsible for bringing this industry-leading event to Switzerland, we were excited to share insights about the local market alongside speakers from places like Novartis and Mapiq.

Switzerland is home to a large number of multinational organisations that attract international talent. This can present unique challenges and creates the demand for workspaces that hold “a diversity of solutions,” said Kartsen Schmitt, who works on strategic business development for UBS (which boasts a workforce that represents over 90 nationalities). Providing state-of-the-art work environments that cater to a workforce’s needs and facilitates productivity and wellbeing is a major point on everyone’s agenda.

As smart buildings and everyday AI become a growing reality, the question on everyone’s mind has become how to best use these tools to facilitate transformation in the workplace. But the answer can’t be boiled down to one piece of tech or method of collecting metrics. Without designing for users (the technophobes and the early adopters alike), companies risk losing out on engagement and missing out on the future of work, even if their workspaces are filled with the newest tech.

Studio Banana Inspiration Cards Play at your own Risk

Numbers need people

Quantitative information is an incredible tool in gaining insights. But it isn’t the only one, and in the rush to have the newest and the best, it’s important to remember the critical role that the emotions and feelings of users play in making a workplace a success. Even the most impressive (and expensive) tech suite is a failure if no one actually feels compelled to use it.

“Technology improves experience,” observed Dr. Claire Penny, the global industry leader for IBM’s Watson IOT buildings division. Her presentation highlighted the often overwhelming amounts of data that can be collected but how having a wealth of quantitative information doesn’t always equal successful strategies. Things like price per square meter and sustainability are practical, number-driven metrics, but the user’s perception of a space is what determines its effectiveness said Christoph Rogge of Roche. For technology to effectively create positive change, a one size fits all approach just doesn’t work. To create user buy in, and even understand who and what you’re designing for, engaging with stakeholders to gamify the design process will make or break your workplace transformation effort.

Teasing the upcoming release of our book, Think Work Outside the Box, Key shared some ideas and examples of how we’ve developed insight-driven workplace designs that create moments of creativity and collaboration. And while you can’t design behaviour, you can create an engaging environment that encourages spontaneity and lateral thinking. Sometimes that’s through digital collaboration tools, but other times it’s as simple as using a deck of inspiration cards like the one we gifted (Oprah style) to each member of the audience.

When it comes to creating workspace transformations, you can’t paint by numbers and let software do all the work. But what you can do is allow room for creativity, flexibility, and a little bit of fun.

That’s a future worth looking forward to.

If you would like to stay informed about our upcoming book Think Work Outside the Box, you can sign up to receive emails here.

To learn more about how user-centered design is shaping the future, and how technology can help, follow Studio Banana on LinkedIn.