User Centred Design + Service Design Thinking + Energy Visualisation = Fun and rewarding activities to save energy in workplaces

A lot of work is being put into behaviour change theory, and exploring its possibilities. This pilot was a chance to apply these theories under conditions that would allow evaluation of new and innovative approaches, letting us monitor results and evaluate the potential opportunities. Most importantly, it let us explore how to get people to join in with energy-saving measures in the workplace and change their behaviour by testing out what actually works.

Workplace behaviour change efforts have traditionally been implemented as instructive communication based programmes that have been either static in time or just communicated one way, drawing on techniques from e.g. McKenzie-Mohr & Smith (1999) Fostering Sustainable Behavior: An Introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing. Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society marketing. These efforts might include putting up signs reminding people to turn off lights or guidelines telling staff what to do. The problem is that just telling people to do, or not do, isn’t very effective and doesn’t produce lasting change in the way that engaging with, and involving people, can.

We wanted to give the users a voice and to put the needs and concerns of the people whose behaviour we wanted to change at the centre of the design process. We also wanted to encourage them to participate and keep them there through a dynamic user engagement process of participatory design. Staff at DECC provided input and feedback at every stage, and were kept up to date of where we were through blog posts and other communications tools.

We provided an online social media platform as a single base from which a large number of behaviour change drivers could be delivered. The CarbonCulture Platform is flexible in content and use, but provides an underlying anchor for the developing community.

As the behaviour change tools were going to be co-designed with DECC staff, we needed a way to communicate and to build a relationship with our users. Therefore, the online platform was first introduced as a simple blog that communicated the design process in a transparent and interactive way.

Continuous feedback and conversations between us and DECC staff were key components of the whole approach to the pilot. Having a simple ‘feedback’ function on the platform, as well as comments on the blog, gave users the opportunity to question, comment, and get involved.

The tools were developed with rapid and agile iterations. The team used DECC staff feedback at every step to respond very quickly to design tools for them, and then to use their comments to make improvements quickly. By designing carbon-saving tools with the end user in mind and listening to these users at every stage, we encouraged DECC staff to feel involved in the process of improvement and to be invested in the process. They were therefore able to withstand the development of the pilot, and to be involved in making it better.

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