During the specialisation program (minor) Co-Design Studio (a collaboration between the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and Fundamentals), the students take part in our International Week. During this week, students from different studies work in countries across Europa, tackling local design challenges. One of the teams of the program in autumn 2021 worked in Warsaw to take part in a design project for 10Clouds, a local software company.
The challenge the students took on, was to provide people across the neurodiversity spectrum a better work environment that meets their needs and reinforces their strengths. Individuals with ASD are believed to have neurocognitive differences that give them distinct strengths and are capable of success when properly adapted and supported. They are task oriented, have high work motivation, are loyal, honest and highly accurate. Qualities that can be very valuable in any team. Although, for many people on the spectrum it can pose a challenge to express their thoughts about preferring another way of working. This is a tricky dynamic because: the work environment can only be adapted to this, if employees do not hide their being on the spectrum.
The desired outcome off the project was to offer a sustainable career for neurodivergent people, while making lasting relationships within the working environment that makes them feel understood, valued, and accepted. With a focus on these guiding principles, the student aim to help employees on the spectrum have more room to communicate, which will lead to reaching their full potential.
The students worked on this project for one week at a high pace, using design sprints. They were accompanied by a representative of the client who is an expert in the field, and by two Fundamentals coaches. In weeks like this, we encourage students to gather as many insights as possible in a short time. By prototyping and testing quickly, they were able to present a tested concept at the end of the week.
The added value of collaborations like International Week, works both ways. For our students, it’s an invaluable experience to work in a different country with a different culture for a week. Often, our clients also include them in the local way of working and living (next to taking on a local challenge, with - most of the time - a local target audience), which allows for an enlightening week. For our clients, having a fresh pair of eyes, not only age-wise, but juniors with a completely different frame of reference (often from different cultures, as the programme itself is internationally composed as well), can deliver eye-opening insights.