Connectedness design workshop

Bridget, Claire and Ben travelled to the BBC R&D lab in Media City, Salford to talk to some of the staff about their experiences of working in 'distributed' teams and with freelancers.

We wanted to explore forms of communication for enhancing a sense of connectedness in collaborating teams, and to discover if digital connectivity can foster some of the subtle context sharing found in physical work places.


Our design workshop consisted of:

  • a group discussion about how teams work at the BBC;
  • individual strategies for communicating in those teams;
  • an exercise in sketiching out maps of collaboration networks;

reflection on self-documentation of desks and workspaces as a potential communication tool;

  • a concluding discussion of design features for a prototype app.

    We also had a chance to tour the Media City in Salford, and see the mixture of workspaces that have been designed or have evolved in the buildings, and how different tasks use those spaces.


    One of our workshop participants, describing how to shape flexible work and a flexible working environment said:

    "I’ve heard lots of writers say make your space make you feel like a writer. If going to a café with a notebook makes you feel like that, go there, do that."


    For me the potential of an approach that shares images of desks rather than, say, a webcam connection that shows the face of each team member, is that it introduces a form of communication that feels more private, and yet also captures some of the richness of 'current context' that workspaces can display. The book, the coffee cup, the unfinished project, the tidyness of the papers, these all tell us something of the person, and what they are doing, without feeling too intrusive.