Belong Anywhere? The Airbnb Design-driven Approach to Designing Workplace Experiences

Sidsel Rytter Løschenkohl

Student thesis: Master thesis


This chapter introduces the subject of this master thesis and its problem statement. The research question is presented, and the delimitations and the overall approach is accounted for. Technology is developing at an exponential rate. What this means is essentially, that we are living at a time where technology and society are evolving faster than businesses can naturally adapt; appropriately dubbed ―the era of digital Darwinism.‖ New technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, additive manufacturing, drones and robotics, are replacing workers, and last year, McKinsey estimated that existing technologies could automate 45 percent of current job activities (Chui, Manyika, & Miremadi, 2016). However, what some seem to forget is how we got here: these innovations are the result of human creativity, enabled by evolution. As technology has, and continues to, gradually replace workers, jobs are becoming increasingly, cognitively complex; requiring more psychological involvement and adaption from the employees. Employee contribution has become a more critical business issue, because the competitive landscape requires companies to produce more output, with less employees (Ulrich, 1996). To succeed, or even to survive, companies need to unlock the full potential of their employees. Regrettably, my personal interest in the relationship between engaged employees and innovation grew from a recent job experience; convinced that I had found my dream job, I moved halfway around the globe, eager and filled with excitement. I was so frustrated; here I was, stuck in a tiny office with paper thin walls, locked to a poorly functioning stationary computer with software from 2003, doing unchallenging tasks, for a boss who was completely oblivious to my expectations, feelings, wants and needs. The thought of going to work would make me sick, so I packed my belongings and left the company and Silicon Valley. What does make me happy I through? Silicon Valley had been my dream. I love to travel I thought; I love to explore new places and meeting new people. As it turns out, I am not alone; 72% of American millennials (born between 1980 and 1996) prefer to spend more money on experiences rather than material things (Eventbrite, 2016). Living a meaningful, happy life is about creating, sharing, and capturing memories earned through experiences that span the spectrum of life‘s opportunities. With millennials now accounting for over one fourth of the total US population, the high focus on experiencing supports the growth of an economy driven by the consumption of experiences (Eventbrite, 2016).

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages100
SupervisorsCharlotte Biil