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Service Design (MA)

Jing Qian

After completing the Bachelor of Industrial Design Engineering at Hohai University, Jing has further her Service Design study at the Royal College of Art.

As a Service and Strategy Designer who gets excited about tacking wicked problems, she could see potential and possibilities anywhere. During her MA studies, she has completed multiple projects and worked as a service designer on several interdisciplinary projects worldwide-involving cultural experiences, supply-chain, well-being, city planning, and more. Colleagues and employers describe her as a catalyst who provides holistic perspectives.


Morepak -- First prize in the Cambridge MAKEit FRUIT&VEG and selected to The Innovation Cultivator Programme at Cambridge Centre for Global Equality and the 2020 Innovation Forum

What is happiness?This is a question we constantly ask ourselves. From both science and psychological perspectives, happiness is interpreted as a "subjective wellbeing" and implies a positive mood in the present and a positive outlook for the future. From the cultural view, the attitude and understanding of happiness vary among countries, from personal achievement to social harmony. Furthermore, people across cultures consider happiness as one of their most cherished personal goals. 

Why happiness at the workplace is important for us? While 50% of our happiness is determined by the set point which is in our genes. The part we can change is the circumstances (10%) and the intentional activities (count for 40%) we do. When it comes to intentional activities, we need to integrate them into the activities of our daily lives. And work is the activity we spend most of our time on, apart from sleeping.

And Happiness at work is determined by the people you work with and the purpose you find in your work. It should come as no surprise that employees who enjoy an energetic and pleasant atmosphere among colleagues are happiest at work.

However remote workers today are experiencing high levels of stress, longer working hours than usual, distraction at work due to blurred boundaries, and a sense of isolation due to the nature of remote work. With such growing mental health concerns, employees' happiness has dropped dramatically during the pandemic when working from home in the UK.

What if we bring happiness to the workplace? In the age of rising concern about employee experience, here's why the happiness of employees should be a top priority: Happy employees are up to 12% more productive and are three times more creative than others. Engaged and happy employees improve business profitability by 147%. So


Pebble is a tailor-made virtual assistant that aims to serve companies with remote working needs and improve the lives of workers. Pebble promotes happiness and productivity in the workplace by helping employees build meaningful connections, switch between work modes to better manage their work, and build healthy work habits.

The story of pebble
Co-creation ideation workshop with VIC team
Co-creation ideation workshop with VIC team

We brought together 55+ key stakeholders, consisting of Wellbeing specialists, employees from apprentices all the way to the leaderships and HR, for conducting research, interviews, workshops, and prototypes. We worked closely with the VIC team, using their team as a test bench for our design.

We brought our practice of service design to positive psychology and behavioral change science to find out the effective and easy way of promoting happiness in the workplace.

By using workshops to conduct interviews, which allowed us to iterate quickly and test hypotheses while conducting in-depth research. We fully integrate users and stakeholders into the design process. Create our solution based on the results of the co-creation ideation workshop with our previous research.

Pebble with their unique traits and characteristics
Pebble with their unique traits and characteristics

Based on our extensive research and insights mentioned above, we mapped out 5 well-being personalities: the apprentices, The feelers, the explorers, the doers, and the mentors. The metrics used to create these groups are based on their motivation to work, their attitude towards wellbeing activities, and their proficiencies related to work and wellbeing activities.

The results of our metrics helped us create different pebbles based on their unique needs. Each Pebble has its unique traits and characteristics. They would act and speak differently to accompany users when they use the service.

How do they get their Pebble? We designed a quiz with 3 categories to help our platform with matchmaking and prediction of users’ personal pebble. Users will eventually get their customized pebble by answering one question per day. During this process, users would build emotional engagement with pebbles in their day-to-day conversations.

The accuracy of the well-being personality quiz got proved by the VIC team and the public. (If you are interested in finding out what personality you are, please contact us.)

Pebble promotes remote worker’s happiness in three ways. 

1. Enable users to focus on meaningful work which promotes long-lasting happiness and productivity.

--In the deep work function, Pebble provides 1-minute cognitive fitness exercises that quickly prepare user’s minds and switch between various work modes, allowing them to better stay focused on work. And reduce the distractions caused by remote work.

2.Create the informal interactions that are needed for healthy social connection.

--By simulating real-world interaction from the office, we create a digital “Cafe” where employees can have spontaneous interaction with colleagues. They could have a 10 minutes coffee chat with their peers who are also in the Cafe during the morning and lunch break.

3. Set boundaries between work and life, building healthier working habits.

--Pebble exists in their working desktop and phone, and only appears in the work time. During the work, Pebble will nudge users to do certain activities to avoid sitting for too long.

The integration in Microsoft Teams & Slack
The integration in Microsoft Teams & Slack
The value map

The iteration of Pebble

To collect users' feedback about Pebble, we conducted 5 in-depth prototype sessions, using Figma to simulate real interactions with the pebble. We received feedback from entry-level through to management-level employees. In general, participants liked the sense of connection and bonding Pebble can bring into the team. They also wondered whether it would be possible to integrate Pebble into their existing office collaboration tools, like the Microsoft team or slack.

Bearing this suggestion in mind, we developed integrations for these tools and came up with several enhancements to Pebble’s main functions:

01. Add mini-games to add playful elements in the virtual cafe function;

02. Display the nice words written by colleagues during the focus exercises to spread positivity in a team;

03. Aggregate the users’ data and send it back to the company’s existing internal wellbeing programs, so they can identify and resolve wellbeing issues in the company.

The future of Pebble

We planned to retain our users from two perspectives, company and employees. We would continue to work with subscribed companies by generating regular employee wellbeing reports and recommendations for their teams and HR department. Employees would also continue to see new benefits, with personalized wellbeing reports, the ability to bring in third-party focus exercises from the likes of Headspace and NHS fitness studio and smart conversational ai capabilities that make Pebble able to help them in new ways.

Pebble creates various values for different stakeholders. It enables employees to have the focus time to do meaningful work; establish and maintain social connections with their peers. Pebble brings a healthier and productive team for team leaders and the company as a whole. Outside the organizations that directly use our service, Pebble partners with existing office collaboration tools and wellbeing programs to deliver the ultimate wellbeing-focused working environment.

Special Thanks

A huge thank you to all the people who helped us on our project, whose participation made the whole working process really enjoyable.

To our project partners, Elin Sjursen and Annie Woodall, for their continued support and kindness.

To David Eveleigh-Evans, our project tutor, for his professional guidance and for encouraging us to try out more possibilities.