Move freely around the office with your digital desktop in your pocket  

Skills: Ethnographic Research, Storyboarding, Video Editing (Premiere Pro), After Effects, Prototyping, Arduino, Keynote

Time: 3 weeks (Jan-Feb 2016)

Team:  Lukas Flynn, Nicole Waniowska, Keyur Jain

Partners: Helena Tobiasson (Interactive Institute & PhD candidate)

 

Brief

Our challenge was to invite movement back into the office space. In a world where desk work is becoming more and more common, how can we encourage people to periodically get up and move?

Guiding findings

  • The market is saturated with devices that remind them to get up and move
  • Despite wanting to move, people do not want to have to think about getting up
  • Work is prioritized over occasional physical movement

Approach

We aimed to create a solution that was:

  • A system-wide solution
  • Made movement inherent in the work day
 

The concept

 
 
 

Uko is an office system that allows employees to take their digital workspace (ex. files, programs, open windows) from workstation to workstation according to their work needs. Imagine being able to finish off your photoshop file by moving from a desktop to a large display or continuing editing that report from your tablet to a group work space. 

Uko incorporates movement into the day, gives employees flexibility in workstation and environment adjustments, and increases serendipitous interaction within the company.

 
 

An office-wide SYSTEM THAT FOSTERS A CULTURE OF MOVEMENT

Uko facilitates employee movement around the office by freeing them from a singular desk to being able to adjust their work environment according to the task they need to get done. Uko increases serendipitous face-to-face interaction, which leads to better work performance and improves the health of employees.

chance encounters and unplanned interactions between knowledge workers, both inside and outside the organization—improves performance.
— Harvard Business Review

How it works

1. Check in

Employees sign in via fingerprint and take a tag to use for the day.

Each tag is equipped with a magnetic clip that allows employees to carry their tag whichever way is most convenient.

 

 

2. Claim a space

Employees can check into any workspace by placing their tag on a dock. Their environment will adjust to their latest settings, such as changing the desk height and loading a digital picture frame with your photo album.

The workspace will load up your latest saved digital workspace.

 

 

3. Move throughout the day

Throughout the workday, employees are free to move around to various workstations as best fits both their physical and mental work needs, whether they need a quiet space, a larger screen, or a space better suited for group work.

we found that people reported they were more satisfied with their work environment... we found that ‘choice’ was the key differentiator
— Sonya Dufner, Director of workplace strategy at Gensler
 

4. Check out

When an employee leaves the office, they just need to leave their tag back on the check station. The display will show the employee's activity for the day.

research

defining the Future of the office

The nature of office work is constantly changing, and in designing for the future, we talked to current office workers and looked through available research to get an idea of where we're heading. While office work will continue to be sedentary as demand for low-energy tasks (i.e. computer-based work) continues to increase, work patterns and expectations are shifting as Millennials enter the workforce. We believe the future will continue to:

  • Demand more creativity

  • Require collaborative work
In response to... demand for rapid innovation, work has become more flexible, distributed and collaborative.
— Audrey Ellison Schriefer, Journal of Corporate Real Estate
 

Movement Diary

While we recognize that we spend the majority of their day sitting, we did not realize how much we actually sit. To kick off this project, my team and I kept movement diaries to pin down how much we sit during the day. The result:

We sat for over 12 hours

We were active for only 1% of our day

The results of our quick informal Diary matches current studies, which indicate that only 1-5% of an adult's average waking hours are spent in moderate physical activity.

 

Body-storming

To bring more consciousness to the types of movements the body is capable of, we engaged in body-storming to bring awareness to how the body moves. Do we want to engage in small movements? Large movements? What is the most helpful for people who are sitting most of the day?

bodystorm.png
 

ETHNOGRAPHIC research

My team and I went to four different offices around Umeå to observe and interview office workers in their work environments. In addition to asking them about their day to day, we sketched out their offices and had each fill out movement maps to pinpoint where they walk to during a typical day.

 

Main findings:

1. Office workers are aware of how sitting all day is bad for your health and want to move more

2. Most feel that they are too busy to think about their movements throughout the day

3. Fidgeting was observed throughout

tomas.png
 

2 Workshops + 1 In-depth Interview

We spoke to 22 participants who varied from being community members, office workers, and architecture students. We took the opportunity to test aspects of our concepts.

 

Main Findings:

1. People are comfortable with wearables

2. Like the idea of walking meetings

3. Want to take something personal with them when working in open offices or unassigned seating

 

Workshop 1: Community members built and drew their current office along with their ideal office

Workshop 1: Community members built and drew their current office along with their ideal office

Workshop 2: Architecture students brainstorming on how to solve problems inherent in open spaces and how to get people to interact in an office

Workshop 2: Architecture students brainstorming on how to solve problems inherent in open spaces and how to get people to interact in an office

Workshop 1: Participants were asked to make a wearable for their office and decided on functionality and notification method

Workshop 1: Participants were asked to make a wearable for their office and decided on functionality and notification method

Interview: Our interviewee, Tomas, gave us his thoughts and insights on work now and work of the future

Interview: Our interviewee, Tomas, gave us his thoughts and insights on work now and work of the future

Constant changing of the workspace can bring more creativity and inspiration... [in an open office] I need my habitat to be more personal - have pictures of my daughter
— Tomas, Government Administrator in Umeå

Prototyping

Prop Making

The main interface was made in foam and painted with an iPad as the interface. The screen interactions were prototyped with Keynote.

The tag was made with a Gemma, a wearable Arduino in combination with a NeoPixel ring. 

DSC01018.JPG
 

Filming

For filming our concept video, we storyboarded different scenes to follow how our character, Lukas moves around. I edited both the product and process films using Premiere Pro and After Effects. I learned a lot throughout the process of crafting a cohesive story; I developed a work flow to edit the film down to each frame, understood the importance of story consistency, and the power of designing sound.

IMG_9022.jpg
DSC01012.JPG
 

Role iN Team

 

I worked with three of my classmates, all of whom come from different backgrounds - anthropology, jewelry design, and engineering. I had a central role in pushing the ideation towards a holistic approach instead of thinking about solely the individual. This thinking gave us a concrete goal to aim for that allowed us to do more in less time. 

During the implementation of the project, I took turns with team mates to serve as the 'project facilitator' for the day. I was in charge of creating and coding the Uko tag and I explored different light patterns for each of the tag's modes. I moderated the storyboarding process, created the Keynote prototypes, and was the main editor of our product and process videos.

 
 

Final Thoughts

 

My team achieved our goal of creating a system approach to making movement more inherent in the work place. For future development I would like to:

  1. Create better, more varied user workshop and testing methods
  2. Explore the potential security issues with this product
  3. Research whether a product like this could statistically lead to more movement
 

Prototype Components

  • 16-Neopixel ring, Gemma Arduino
  • Foam, MDF, Acrylic
  • iPad

Research Sources