Leaning into cultural formation by prototyping new ‘things’.  

An organisation’s culture which once blossomed in a shared work setting, doesn’t always match up with the needs of every individual who is now working in a remote situation. Additionally, when one spends more of their time working in a solo arrangement, their culture of work yearns to replace social routines such as small talk, kitchen conversations, and random forms of discussion. Here are a few examples.

We found that people require social routines not just for emotional and cognitive relaxation, but also during their most productive times. This need for social engagement while working is a significant issue they’ve discovered. It’s uncommon for people to think while using plural points of view when isolated. (Fernbach, Sloman) 

To address this deficit, individuals develop various strategies, or “hacks” while working in the social presence of others, even when ‘the others’ don’t work in the same organisation.  Such workarounds enable people to excel in their thinking, and enter into a fluid flow state.

The most important thing we learned about a personal culture of work is that one’s community of practice becomes the generative force that helps them to:

Taken together, productivity – both solo and aggregated – is coming from these three cultural forces. The basic output of a Dayshift Talk Party is a rapid analysis we refer to as a Diagnosis of your Dayshift.

Participants tell us they discover something surprising about their work situation during the Talk Party, but are far more delighted by the explanatory depth that they receive from the deeper diagnosis.

And that often brings forth questions such as “So how do I do something about this?” or put new knowledge into action? We recommend making real ‘things’ that can act as support as they try out ways to reshape routines, and shape them for the better. That means prototyping something new at little or no cost.

Prototyping ‘new things’

Since culture often operates automatically, people need ways to make it feel more present, tangible, and adjustable. Reshaping routines will enable various agreements and norms that have grown inflexible over time to evolve in a deliberate and convivial manner. 

In one example we observed a designer experiencing undue stress from the managers she reports to. Our diagnosis suggested ways of making her various modes of thinking more evident. Firstly to herself, and secondly to her managers. 

Currently we’re participating with her on a co-design experiment to convert her design methods into tangible phases of work by using a real calendar that inhabits her real remote workplace.

Using GenAI to prototype personal cultures

Another form of prototyping has been through creating personal dialogues. We’ve been experimenting with generative pre-trained transformers (GPT’s) to help us understand if an assistant could help people build their own personal culture of work.

Cultures are vast and it’s hard to know where to start. We started by training the GPT’s interaction style to focus on being an assistant. Helping people help themselves. After the interaction style was completed, we designed the GPT to focus on one thing which everyone can handle: a day.

Guiding through the lens of a day, the discussion focuses on two main buttons as prompts: How will today be a good day and how was today a good day?

This division created a start and finish rhythm to the interaction where a person can begin to prepare: what are the things which could lead to them feeling they’ve have a good day. And in reflection: what were the things that made up a good day.

Not all days need to be good, and that’s part of the learning. There can be joyful, expressive, relaxing and reviving days. And yes, definitely bad days. The key is to build a repeatable, emergent behaviour which is manageable and tangible to experience, and yet incredibly individualised for the vast variety of personal cultures to explore.

If you want to rediscover your personal culture of work, a great way to begin is by becoming present about the ways that your current culture disagrees with your personal set of agreements and norms, and to prototype each new change that comes to mind. Look for changes in effectiveness that remain compatible with the people whose work surrounds you before landing on a firm commitment to change. 

The key value of a personal work culture lies in clarifying the unique needs and contributions made by your discipline. By openly sharing your values, objectives, and practices with colleagues – by mocking up tangible things –  you can begin to craft your own personal culture of work.

Interested in crafting a more deliberate personal work culture?

Explore practical techniques and tools, including AI tools and real-world prototypes, with Dayshift. Reach out to us to learn how these strategies can enhance your productivity and refine your approach to work. Together, we can build a work environment that truly reflects your values and goals:  dayshift.design/about