How might we facilitate an inclusive and safe working environment amongst diverse team members by harnessing the playful affordances of the online working environment?

The 20-week DSS traineeship attracts a broad range of diverse individuals to work together with clients to solve real-world, societal design challenges. Besides coming from diverse cultural backgrounds, trainees come from a variety of disciplines, including design engineering, research, computer science, and so on. Without cognitive diversity, it’s very difficult to come up with designs that are creative, innovative, and socially impactful. But working in such diverse teams also brings its challenges: communication styles, differences in problem-solving approaches, and values are just a few examples of barriers that teams need to overcome in order to work together effectively.

While team communication is not a new issue, the ongoing pandemic has made particular design activities more difficult. Activities such as reading non-verbal emotional cues from teammates, group participation, and delivering feedback might be challenging for some teams in an online environment. These activities are necessary for design teammates for fruitful discussions.

This project intends to explore the following questions:

  • How might we harness the advantages of online environments in the creation of a digital safe space and energize team members?
  • How can coaches use the tool effectively to facilitate communication within groups without restricting their creativity and spontaneity?
  • In what creative ways could we find a balance between freedom and structure when making use of design thinking so that each member of a diverse team feels included?
  • In what ways could our tool be scalable and future-proof within a hybrid way of working?

This project focuses on the Sustainable Development Goal: