Scrunch “Your comfortable evening working space”

Asking late night workers to relocate to a specific area of the office, allowing carbon savings by turning off the rest of the building.

STATS: DECC staff ‘scrunched’ 81 times, and used the ‘Going Home’ button 1561 times

DECC is a large building, and keeping the lights on outside of office hours in case people are working late is expensive and wasteful. Lights turn off periodically, so staff have to wave their arms regularly to keep them on.

Scrunch is an idea that can work in any office: reducing the ‘size’ of the office to the size of the workforce who are in the office outside of normal work hours. Evenings provide a great opportunity for saving energy if staff sit together and are able to switch off the rest of the building.

While the root of this issue is in energy efficiency, the savings are only achieved through a critical mass of uptake. Therefore, the focus must be on user engagement to unlock the potential savings.

The fact that Scrunch is an idea that came out of the workshops demonstrated that it was a real issue that people working at 3-8 Whitehall Place wanted to address, and suggested that there was high potential for user engagement. However, there must be barriers preventing DECC staff from ‘scrunching’ already. The CarbonCulture team sought to identify these barriers.

Barriers to Scrunching
– “I’ll only be here another 15 minutes, I promise”
—- “I have to shut down my laptop and restart it again, which takes ages!”
– “I’m comfortable here”
– “No one else is moving”

To address the first barrier (how much time it would take to move to a different floor), a differentiation was made between those members of staff who were finishing work and would be leaving soon, and those who would be working late. As in other interventions, identifying the audience who you seek to engage is key.

This identification was achieved through the prototype process of incrementally bringing the Scrunch start time forward. Each evening, members of the CarbonCulture team would walk around the building inviting people to Scrunch, and in the process had key user interaction around what was making each worker stay late. The level of human effort made by the CarbonCulture team to interact with staff at 3-8 Whitehall Place was specific to the prototype stage, and was necessary to develop ways that Scrunching could become habitual for staff working late.

An immediate learning from the prototyping process was that there was a technology barrier: the process of un-docking, and re-docking laptops. The approach to overcoming this barrier was to find a technological solution, and to present it to DECC staff in an easy to understand and encouraging way. This piece of communication provided a positive conversation starter that was initially aimed at Scrunchers but became a useful tool for all DECC staff.

Once the audience was identified and any material barriers had been addressed, there remained emotional barriers. There were two approaches to overcome these: directives and incentives. Behavioural theory suggests that ‘forcing’ late-workers to relocate would not receive positive reactions, leaving incentives as the key tool for getting staff to relocate.

The CarbonCulture team created a productive environment that they could incentivise staff to relocate to. This environment had to be better than the ordinary evening workspace. The incentives used to encourage staff to relocate were a space with continuous lighting that had already been cleaned, the provision of food and drinks, and friendly interaction. Announcements were made over the tannoy informing staff when the Scrunch area was open.

The approach of the CarbonCulture at DECC pilot sought to create lasting voluntary actions, and so it was important to encourage these actions through rewards (carrots) rather than directives (sticks) so that the action is seen as a choice and not something that is begrudgingly followed.

The CarbonCulture at DECC pilot sought to create lasting voluntary actions, so it was important to encourage these actions through rewards (carrots) rather than directives (sticks) so that the action is seen as a choice and not something that is begrudgingly followed.

Scrunching in particular is a carbon saving behaviour that may appear easy to implement through simply shutting down other areas of the office, so that people working late would have to relocate. However, from our research and speaking to staff, we decided early on that it was important to use the carrot rather than the stick.

It became clear to the CarbonCulture team once the online platform had been launched that a purely ‘working-late’ incentivisation scheme could be perceived to encourage people to work late. To combat this, we decided to equally reward the action of ‘Going Home’ on time.

Online Feedback and Interview Results — Scrunch

“Very pleasant experience. Made me feel comfortable, made me tea and offered me some food. Will definitely come again if I have to work late, thanks”

“First time scruncher – it was good. Promising website, tasty lemonade, what more can you want?”

“Delicious gingerbread man + tea, friendly atmosphere, nothing got lost when undocking laptop, setting up printer was really easy (30 sec) + you only need to do it once.”

Scrunch screenshot informing where tonight's Scrunch will be and allowing employees to record their actions of going to Scrunch or going home.

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