UX & the Future of Work — UX TALK #23

On this occasion, we discussed the foreseen scenarios of work and the role of User Experience as an enabler for Phygital Spaces, designed starting from the comprehension of human needs.

We are moving to a non-standard way of working, there will be new opportunities and solutions that will be taken by big companies to work remotely.

Zuckerberg (2021) says that “there’s no reason for employers to be trapped by an employee’s location”.

We are moving to a hybrid vision of work, a job evolution in terms of spaces and innovation.

But how and when this will occur? What will be the trade-off of this change, how lives will be altered and companies will behave?

We are delighted to introduce you to the guests of the 23rd UXTalk, UX & The Future of Work:

Watch the full stream of the event here

Below there are two short extracts from their keynotes.

EY and The Hybridisation of Work — Paolo De Caro

Ernst & Young has a great focus on User Experience and this is the reason why they co-designed and participated in the first edition of the Master in User Experience Psychology. They believe in the necessity to develop new skills and specific roles in the organisation related and driven by User Experience.

We think that a new kind of employee experience is needed, something that goes beyond the mere digitisation of the workspace, rather the analysis of the whole experience of being an employee.

EY is working on the hybrid experience of work and during the UXTalk we analysed the importance of the User Experience to improve the experience of employability.

What is the current scenario in workspaces? How the experience of work has changed since the Global Pandemic

In 2021, Ernst and Young carried out two pieces of research to better explore employees feelings and expectations in the workplace. The results of the two research demonstrate that productivity can be enhanced by the hybridisation of work. Working partially from remote and partially from the office could have a great effect on the problem-solving skills of employees, fostering social interactions and productivity.

EY(2021) Work Reimagined Employee Survey 2021

Indeed, the first study, EY(2021) Work Reimagined Employee Survey, highlights that the majority of participants feel their ability and skills seems to be improved thanks to the flexibility of working from everywhere. Hence, 65% of employees think a new mix of in-presence and remote work will increase efficiency and creativity.

Furthermore, technology is perceived as crucial to enable hybridisation: 64% of employees ask for better technology in the office, 48% foresees technological investments for their home office.

In opposition, the second study EY (2021) Microsoft Viva. Disegnare l’employee experience per il futuro ibrido del lavoro, highlights that 70% of the participants are feeling a higher level of stress and a deterioration in their mental health, this feeling is further confirmed by 60% that affirms they feel less connected to work teams since they are in remote working.

EY (2021) Microsoft Viva. Disegnare l’employee experience per il futuro ibrido del lavoro

Therefore the way we work has a social and emotional impact on our lives. This is why companies need to invest in the new home office, the place where employees are currently working the most.

The results of these two studies clearly display what we are currently experiencing at the workplace. Technology works as an enabler to a more productive and enjoyable way of work but at the same time, it can be the reason for a feeling of social disconnection and negatively influence our wellbeing.

This is when and where User Experience needs to take over in the employee experience. The hybrid experience needs to be created by analytic designers that orchestrate the following three elements:

People: by redefining purpose, culture, mindset and leadership for a real business impact. Of course seeing the wellbeing of the employe as a central focus.

Practice: Converting skills into effective behaviours in strategic scenarios

Phygital: Expanding the work experience via digital enablers and spaces to create social connection hubs. The Fil Rouge to create a social connection in order to be creative, productive and feel that they belong to a community.

In this scenario, User Experience designers should identify what will actually change the experience of being an employee, what will positively improve the emotional state of employees, through data analysis and behavioural observations.

User Experience Designers should recognise employee needs and unify them into a unique and innovative digital solution.

This piece of technology should be “humanised”, it should work as an enabler of social interactions. The aim is to let the employee feel included in a community where they are valued and heard. By improving the environment and personal experience of employees, designers could lead users into more positive attitudes towards their work, fostering creativity and interpersonal relationships, effectively changing employee’s behavioural attitudes.

We fully believe that User Experience is one of the most relevant way and skill to create collaboration and participation. We see User Experience as an accelerator for human conversations.

So.. how are we going to design the next wave of hybrid working?

We need to reconsider and redesign the vision and purpose of our organisation. A starting point is understanding the fundamental importance of soft skills such as creativity and collaboration that sometimes can be even more valuable than classics hard skills.

Companies need to value their employees, their characteristics and social interactions, this can be done if the environment is set to collaborate. The challenges that we are going to face in the next years needs to be faced as a community and User Experience Design works as foster of human conversation in the digital and organisational environment.

Go check WaveSpace here

Watch the full keynote by Paolo De Caro

The Phygital Workshop — Giacomo Rozzo

Workplaces are adapting to users’ needs and are changing accordingly, creating a new hybrid conversation among technology, physical spaces and human interactions.

Phygital Workshops are spaces for professionals, environments fostered by the digital, spaces that recognise where you are and what you want in every moment.

When we design a physical experience, technology is the last thing on our mind.

The aim is to create frictionless experiences, in order for the technology to disappear, or better to let the user using technology but without even notices it.

The User Experience analysis behind this kind of space is strictly related to behavioural studies, it is focused on what the users think and feel, how they connect with the environment and the rest of people.

Our goal is to design spaces and experiences of humans while working, having fun and living the space.

The workplace shouldn’t be a place with tools and tech only supporting tasks, rather it should be where people feel good emotionally, rationally and physically while performing tasks. Accordingly, the first step to designing such a space is to fully understand and prioritise users needs.

Users’ needs in a Maslow Pyramid

The importance of workspaces

Before Covid-19 our lives were divided into many bits, we spent time at the workplace, sometimes at the park, we went to visits friends, we travelled… When Covid-19 exploded, the majority of our life was at home and slowly the employee understood to be able to work from where he or she preferred, so naturally, the question was ‘Why the hell going back to the office?’

Companies and employees highlighted several important matters why working in presence is fundamental for human wellbeing and the company. Sharing the same workspace promotes a sense of belonging, collaboration and consequently communication skills. Moreover, some important aspects include the satisfaction and adrenaline released by employees when recruited for a specific task or are included in new projects. These delicate experiences and emotions make the difference when we are in presence, and could instead be attenuated during remote work, decreasing the sense of personal appreciation.

What changes the experience is the possibility to positively confront and educate each other, the reason why people also desire to go back to the office.

So what are the drivers that make us think of a digital and hybrid workplace that allows flexibility and personality at the same time?

Giacomo Rozzo showcased some of the workplaces he co-designed, in which the space is interactive and inclusive. The workplace wasn’t only a building but an immersive experience driven by the practices of Brand Identity and Customer Experience and User Experience Design.

Watch the full keynote by Giacomo Rozzo

These lectures were held during the 23rd UX Talk organised for the students of the Master in User Experience Psychology by Politecnico di Milano & Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to be updated about the upcoming UX Talks, always open to the public.

Curated by Alice Paracolli

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A polytechnic centre of excellence dedicated to User Experience - by POLIdesign.

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