Colloquium announcement

Faculty of Engineering Technology

Department Design, Production and Management
Master programme Industrial Design Engineering

As part of his / her master assignment

D'Souza, R.M. (Ryan)

will hold a speech entitled:

A virtual framework to support continuous improvement of employees’ wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RoomTeams (for public& closed defence)


The COVID-19 pandemic has created a particularly challenging environment for businesses to support the workforce in adapting to radical changes in the work and social environment. Employees who previously spent all their working time co-located in a physical space with equal working opportunities must suddenly adjust to working in remote environments with a complex and unique list of needs that differ from employee-to-employee. The distinction between work and private life for most people working from home is blurred, making it difficult for employees to “unplug” from the demands of work. This has had knock-on effects on their physical and mental wellbeing, sense of purpose, and relationships with colleagues. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to managing the experiences of their employees’ wellbeing. In this thesis, an employee wellbeing framework (EWF) was developed to enable FPC to quickly identify and develop specific solutions in response to their employees’ concerns.

In early April 2020, the Fraunhofer Project Center participated in a product design competition called the ‘Give a breath challenge’ to design an emergency ventilator through distributed additive manufacturing techniques due to the global shortages of medical equipment. In addition, the FPC aimed to increase staff morale and support them in getting used to working from home. The design work was conducted virtually due to the ‘stay at home’ restrictions. The process of designing a product and running a project team virtually resulted in novel project management and workplace culture challenges. A qualitative study of the GBC highlighted employees’ wellbeing issues that could be observed within the wider FPC workplace.

Theory from Lean, Design Thinking, Design Sprint and others were combined with the specific needs of the FPC’s employees and organisational structure, to tailor a framework to support continuous improvement of their employee’s wellbeing during the changing landscape of the pandemic. The four-phases of EWF allows staff to remotely collaborate to identify their long-term goals, define and prioritise obstacles that are preventing them from reaching those goals (Phase 1), delivers a workshop template with a series of guided exercises to integrate the perspectives of cross-functional staff and develop solutions (Phase 2). The EWF allows management to get an overview of the root causes and allocate resources to develop countermeasures and interventions (Phase 3) in a continuous process (Phase 4). The thesis ends with a discussion highlighting the risks and limitations and future recommendations for the EWF.