Service design, diploma thesis 2016

BETTER TOGETHER

In a time of extreme individualism and "make it on your own"- attitudes, loneliness amongst students in Norway has become an important issue. This is the story of how student housing in Oslo could feel a bit less like housing, and a bit more like a home.
The proposal

Better together is a service proposal for how community might be built within student housing with shared facilities in Oslo. The proposal is made for the housing department at Student-samskipnaden i Oslo og Akershus (the student welfare organisation in Oslo and Akershus, SiO), and was a collaboration with fellow designer Nils Hansen. The service presents three main additions to the current user journey: A digital welcoming before arrival, an introduction to the collective and the area, and a "Kitchen Summit", where the residents agree on rules with the help of a tool. All three moments consist of several new or altered touch-points, and are designed to make the student house feel a bit less like just housing, and a bit more like a home.
The process
Background

It takes time to make a new city feel like home, and student housing plays an important role in creating an environment for new connections and a feeling of community for new students. But when one in five students in Norway today reportedly feel constantly lonely, students houses have the opportunity 
to step up and make a difference. The situation today

The situation in student housing collectives in Oslo today is in no way optimal. There is a general lack of interplay between the residents that can lead to conflicts. The social environment in each collective is dependent on the residents taking charge, and varies a lot from semester to semester. Some collectives are good, others really bad, depending on whether or not someone in the collective takes initiative. The responsibility being put on the residents is not limited to social activities, but also include everyday operations in the collective, like cleaning and sharing facilities, utilities and food. Because of the lack of guidelines for how one should live together with others, many collectives experience conflicts and colliding expectations.

"We say «hi», and sometimes «how are you?». But then... Nothing more."

"If we had a bond in this kitchen, SiO would be my home. If not, it's just housing"

- Current Resident -Viggo, Current resident
Four main insights: Through our research, we found that the most vulnerable time for new residents is before they move in and in the start of their residency. This is also the time that in many ways defines and affects the rest of your stay in the student house. The project therefore focused on The moving in-part in the user journey. To narrow down the problem areas further, four main insights were developed.
1. Alone in a new situation 
You get little help to understand the new situation you are in, and how things work. You are on your own from when you arrive and until you have figured out how things work. 2. Lack of spesific rules creates worry and mixed expectations 
With no one in charge of intro-ducing you to the system and the rules, it's hard to know what expected of you and the others. 3. You have to build the bridge to step on it. 
You have to build the relationship before you can put pressure on it. Knowing someone makes it easier to let them know if something isn’t as it should be. 4. As long as someone 
takes the initiative 
Most people are positive to join in on activities, as long as someone just takes 
the initiative.

"We know that many of our residents want to get to know their neighbor, but experience that it can be hard."

- SiO
The final proposal - Better Together: The final proposal consists of three new service moments with several new or altered touchpoints. It also suggest two new roles who will help carry through the service moments.
First service moment 
A digital welcoming before residents arrive, giving them information on what awaits them and what life in SiO housing is like. Consists of four touchpoints. Second service moment 
An introduction after they have arrived, both to the collective they live in, and to the larger area they live in. Consists of three touchpoints. Third service moment 
A Kitchen Summit, where rules and norms for the collective are agreed upon by the help of an agreement tool. Consists of two tochpoints.
Two new roles introduced 
There is two new designed roles: The House delegate and a Hallway representative. The roles are responsible for social community building in the house, passing on information from SiO, gather the collective for meetings and act as a representative on behalf of the collective and house.
The agreement tool During the Kitchen Summit, a kitchen meeting between the resident where they decide on rules for their home, the collective can get help from the agreement tool. Through a series of questions and alternatives to tick off on the poster, as well as four cards with suggestions for good collective solutions, the residents decide on the details of living together. This includes sharing, cleaning and socializing.
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Copyright © 2016 Inger Steinnes