Services designed for a new age

Security in the gig economy, a solution for long-term unemployment and the creativity of young people are areas in which students of design at LiU have developed new smart services. A 12-credit course in service design has just ended.

Mina Mani Kashani, Joakim Åström och Beate Lindholm Undén that together with Solith af Malmborg designed the service GigSciptions.   Anna Nilsen

Nine new services, methods and ways of working have been developed by around 50 students taking the course in service design, which is arranged in close collaboration with several government agencies and organisations. It was necessary this time for the students to make their presentations remotely, but this meant that it was possible for more collaboration partners to participate.

“On this course the students are to learn to work with design in social systems with a higher degree of complexity and a large requirement for joint creativity”, says Stefan Holmlid, professor in service design at the Department of Computer and Information Science, and coordinator of the course.
He is satisfied with this year’s course instance, which was the fifth, as are also the commissioning bodies, who followed the events remotely.

One example is Lisa Hemph from JobTech GIG, a project operated by Arbetsförmedlingen, Sweden's Public Employment Agency. “I’m impressed by your drive, curiosity and creative energy. It’s marvellous!”.

Collaboration platform

She took home with her a suggestion for a collaboration platform for all those who are active in the growing gig economy. These are people who choose, or sometimes are compelled, to take on short-term engagements, gigs, rather than having traditional employment. Digitalisation also means that it is becoming increasingly easy to match employers and unemployed people for short tasks. Someone who works in the form of gigs often has several different projects on the go for different companies or platforms. This form of working is becoming evermore common in fields such as IT and graphic design.

The group chose to interview both gig workers and people with traditional employment in order to determine what the former value about this way of working, and what challenges they face.
“Gig workers find it an advantage that they are their own boss. This gives them great freedom to work where and when they choose, and it gives flexibility and quick money. The disadvantage, however, is the economic uncertainty – not knowing how much money will come in next month. Gig workers are at risk of both isolation and stress. Another point that came up was the challenge of finding time and space for skills development”, says Beate Lindholm Undén, one of four students in the group.

Beate Lindholm Undén and Joakim Åström are both taking master’s programmes in cognitive science, while Solith af Malmborg and Mina Mani Kashani are taking master’s in design.“It was a good group with different and complementary expertise”, says Beate.

GigScriptions

They call the concept they eventually settled on the “Fair Mother Platform”, a web-based solution designed for anyone who is working in the gig economy. It provides help and The website GigScriptionsThe website GigScriptions.support concerning career pathways and tax issues, together with a community that gives a sense of belonging, discussions relating to trades unions, and – not least – somewhere for companies and individuals to take out a subscription to services.
A gig worker can publish information about expertise, the services offered and dates available. Supply and demand are subsequently matched, such that the gig worker gains better control over future projects. The group calls this service the “GigScriptions”.

“By offering subscriptions for services, which may differ through the year (maybe someone requires help with snow removal in the winter and lawn mowing in the summer, or they require different types of IT service at different times of the year) it becomes possible for a gig worker to calculate income”, says Solith af Malmborg.

Platform for employers

Other tasks that the students have got to grips with include one from Samordningsförbundet i centrala Östergötland (a service The Employer opens the doorThe Employer opens the door.to coordinate rehabilitation services) in which the students have developed a concept they call “Arbetsgivarnätverk”. They suggest a collaboration platform for employers in the region on which they can collaborate and exchange experiences of providing occupational training to people who are long-term unemployed. The platform may also help them to find people with the right expertise.

“It’s important to emphasise the value that employers can gain by collaborating with Samordningsförbundet. The aim is to find sustainable employment opportunities and to provide employees with satisfying places”, says Signe Svorén. Together with Johan Rindborg, Johanna Gustavsson, Jonas Herkevall and Malin Röhr, she has been working on what turned out to be a far from easy task. Signe, Johan and Johanna are taking master’s in design and product development, while Jonas and Malin are taking master’s in cognition science.

Poster ArbisPoster Arbis.Another group has worked to increase interest for the Arbis initiative taken by Linköping Municipality targeted at young people, while a further group worked with increasing the feeling of security of people with diabetes when they contact the healthcare services. This project also included an aspect of increasing participation in one’s own care, and was a collaboration with Region Södermanland. Several other groups worked on a wide diversity of projects in the field of service design.

“This is an exciting course in which students of design get to work with both visual and material technologies, and learn from the actors what needs to be changed and how. These design processes are to result in new knowledge and an ability to bring about change towards new ways of co-creating value – this is the definition of good service design”, says Stefan Holmlid.

Translated by George Farrants

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