Informal. An enjoyable experience or time, easy task, etc.
Work life balance is a pervasive cultural issue. This was already an issue, but constraints imposed by the pandemic have intensified this work-life imbalance. Work and personal spaces have been coerced to act as one, a lack of definition in the day has led to people feeling overworked and serendipitous workplace moments have all but disappeared.
We set out to create an intervention that promotes work-life harmony and mental well-being by helping people to better define their boundary between work and life while reframing their perception of productivity to be more holistic.
To create a successful intervention, we designed our app with remote working professionals’ and learners’ well-being in mind, using research-backed persuasive design techniques to effectively encourage them to build better boundaries between work and life. We focus on making our users more mindful of the salience of their work-life boundary, as it is typically weakened when working and learning from home. In particular, our app strengthens users’ boundaries through subtle mindfulness activities we call Picnics.
The experience begins by telling the app when you want to stop work. Then, you create an avatar who will accompany you throughout your wellness journey. After selecting some activities you might be interested in, you go on with your day and wait for a notification. At your designated time, the app will notify you that it is time to end the day and prompt you with an easy, enjoyable activity specifically designed to help you transition from work into leisure time.
Every day you get a new set of activities to choose from. Activities you could be prompted with include:
- Just start wandering: Take a quick walk and try to find something new you’ve never noticed before
- Doodle time: Doodle and uninterrupted line with your non-dominant hand for 2 minutes. Have a look and see what you can see in the doodle.
- Stretch your legs: Hold the stretch for the number of people in your life you are thankful for and maybe a little more.
Completing an activity at the time you want to set a boundary is designed to help you break away from your workday by engaging in something novel and interesting. In user studies, we found that while participants initially did not think the activities would benefit them in any way, they reported a feeling of calmness and a refreshed mind after completing day one’s activities. Participants found it easier to detach from their work day and transition into leisure time. Even participants who went back to work after the activity reported feelings of mental clarity and even increased productivity.
Our app disrupts your life in a good way. We act as a catalyst for change, rather than telling you what to do. We want to help you create the necessary boundaries around work to allow you to feel free to relax, live your life, and find a balance that works for you. We give you the nudge you need to define these boundaries and let you take it from there.
By Cam Davison, Nitya Devireddy, Sarah Hand, Lauren Hung, Gabrielle Laborwit, and Anna Yuan
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