Estonia’s largest producer of renewable energy Utilitas wanted to involve employees in the development of its human rights, diversity and inclusion policy. We supported Utilitas in this process by collecting input from employees, which would help to understand their attitudes and expectations. We helped to see the possibilities of how the principles reflected in the policy could be practically implemented in the organization’s processes and management.
In cooperation with the company’s environment and sustainability and human resources leaders, we conducted a survey and ran a co-creation workshop, which confirmed that an organizational culture of mutual respect works well for the company’s people and also characterizes Utilitas’ operation so far. In the workshop, we facilitated discussions about what common agreements should be to support the inclusion of a diverse workforce.
The anthropological study was the 1st stage of a larger project, the leading partner of which is the think tank Praxis, and researchers from Tallinn and Tartu Universities are also involved. The official name of the project is “Creating a toolbox informed by human behavior for the implementation of the green transition” and the client was the Estonian Government Office.
The project was carried out in three stages. The purpose of the first stage, or the anthropological study, was to understand how people living in Estonia think about the green revolution and what affects people’s behavior; understand how the green revolution is placed in the context of people’s everyday lives and how it relates to their perceptions, principles, expectations and fears; provide input to the next stages of the project, which will find the best ways to raise awareness and support changes in everyday practices across society.
We conducted in-depth interviews, participant observations, short interviews and an autoethnography seminar. The output was both personas and a report, the results of which were used at the “nudgeton” held under the auspices of the public sector Innovation team and the Estonian Government Office.
Behavioral science solutions were then gathered from the scientific literature and development sessions were conducted with experts in the field to find new solutions and ideas to influence individual behavior.
In the last stage, a toolbox of behavioral changes was created, which can be used in planning and implementing interventions affecting people’s behavior, and a model that complements, specifies and improves the existing environmental awareness measurement of the Estonian population. In reality, it can also be applied elsewhere – be it a village association, apartment association, school, company, office building or residential area under development.
THE MOST IMPORTANT INSIGHTS OF THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL PART
There is no such person who is 100% committed to sustainable and green choices. People do not associate personal and daily practices with the green turn.
Collecting waste by type is the main environmentally conscious habit among the participants.
The choice of transport depends a lot on where a person lives – whether in the countryside or in the city. People living in the countryside or in a small town see owning a car primarily as a basic need to be able to go to work, school, kindergarten and the store.
People do not associate the issue of food consumption with environmental protection so much.
Perception of change:
People’s awareness of climate change has increased, but when talking about the climate crisis, it is the changing weather and seasons that are highlighted.
Older people talked about changes in the natural environment in the local context, but young people often gave examples of the Amazon rainforest or the threat of polar bears becoming extinct.
People also talked about the fact that Estonia is actually lucky and climate change has not affected us drastically yet. And it was emphasized that, compared to other countries, we have preserved a lot of pure and untouched nature.
It is primarily associated with the field of energy
Change from the outside – big and distant
It does not relate to how one can contribute on an individual level
The sense of the green revolution at the level of Estonia is doubted because, for example, the environmental footprint of China and India is significantly larger and we have no influence on it.
It was emphasized that if green options (eg green energy, electric cars) were cheaper, there would be no problem with this transition.
The frontrunners of the Steplab program (or Development Steps in Estonia) for teachers wanted to learn about the motivation for using the program, the factors that encourage and hinder it, understand the journey of beginning teachers, and map out opportunities to increase the popularity of Development Steps in Estonian schools.
It was necessary to open up the views and feedback of both teachers – including teachers in the role of learning partners or mentors – as well as school management on the program, with the help of which it can be further developed. We included a total of 22 people in the study. We conducted 17 in-depth interviews with teachers, including beginning teachers and learning partners, and four in-depth interviews with members of the management of four schools.
When preparing the sample, we considered that it is necessary to include teachers with both short and long tenure and schools with different backgrounds and orientations. Among the schools, there were two so-called educational innovation schools that operated for a shorter period of time and two more traditional ones.
The output for the client was a short report, at the end of which we also presented our own proposals for the further development of the program. In addition, we highlighted individual success stories to illustrate the positive impact of the program and to give inspiration to teachers and schools who are just considering joining the program. The presentation of the results took place in a discussion format, the summary of which we added at the end of the short report.
The project was commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior and its goal was to understand the experiences, knowledge and attitudes of rescue workers and police officers dealing with intimate partner violence (IPV) issues. It becomes a practical input for planning further activities to improve the awareness and skills of professionals.
For the purpose of the study, we first prepared an overview of the relevant literature and conducted 2 background interviews with experts. In May 2023, we conducted 22 in-depth interviews with police officers and rescue operators in different parts of Estonia. Then, on the basis of the initial insights, a co-creation workshop was held with experts, the purpose of which was to collect solution proposals for diversifying knowledge and shaping attitudes more consciously. A report of the results and a two-sided single page (or two pages); as an appendix, we also submitted a methodology report.
The starting point of the project was the need of the Estonian Human Rights Center (EIK) to understand the impact of their diversity and inclusion initiatives. Thus, the target group of the anthropological study was employers who have joined the diversity agreement. We researched what changes have taken place in organizations during the implementation of diversity and inclusion initiatives, and what are the needs and development areas of organizations in this area.
The study is based on qualitative in-depth interviews with representatives of organizations that have joined the Diversity Agreement. In total, in April-May 2023, we conducted 16 one-and-a-half-hour interviews with 17 people who lead diversity and inclusion activities in their organization. When preparing the sample, we considered that it would be public or private sector organizations active in the diversity network, with at least 10 employees.
Based on the interviews, we prepared a short report and a single page that provide an overview of how employers think about the field, how and what topics they deal with, and what their expectations are of the Human Rights Center.
We carried out the project from October 2022 to February 2023 on behalf of Startup Estonia, which wants to increase the positive impact on the growth of “future founders” and encourage young people to engage deeply in the STEAM fields and activities that promote entrepreneurship.
The goal of the project was to understand what influences young people to become more interested in the field of STEAM and to participate in activities that develop entrepreneurship, and what role formal education, hobby education and self-learning play in the development of interest.
Our partner in the project was also the Estonian Research Center, which was responsible for the quantitative part.
The study took place in two stages. In the first, qualitative stage, we conducted 17 individual interviews with students aged 13–19 and three group interviews with parents, STEAM field teachers and supervisors, respectively. In addition, four participatory observations took place in interest circles related to the STEAM fields and entrepreneurship, and at events that included young people from I-IV school levels and vocational schools. In the second, quantitative stage, the Estonian Research Center conducted an online survey to which 600 students aged 13–19 from all over Estonia responded.
Based on the results, we conducted a workshop on the co-creation of policy recommendations, which was attended by various experts with backgrounds in the field. The workshop discussed the challenges raised in the study and developed solutions and policy recommendations. The output was a comprehensive final report and, in addition, a short report that summarized the research results and recommendations in a smaller volume. We presented the results at the seminar as part of Startup Day.
Misconceptions about science, natural sciences and technology inhibit the potential that young people have. It is often considered a “dry” and difficult field that is not suitable for everyone and where creativity cannot be expressed.
Attention should be paid to the education of parents – if young people find that everyone can work in all areas, then parents may not always come up with the idea to direct their daughter to the technology circle.
School does not teach how to cope in today’s life. There is a lack of vitality and practical tasks in the subjects, for example, in computer education you still learn how to format reports. Increasing the share of practical learning could be supported, among other things, by wider cooperation with practitioners.
Interests in the field of real and natural sciences and technology need a more systematic approach to leapfrog development. At the moment, there is no such systematicity as, for example, in the fields of music and sports, and the instructors consider that in many ways it works based on enthusiasm. More support from the state, funding, knowledge and community for instructors would be needed.
Independent hobbies are spreading more and more among young people, which should be taken into account when developing the field of education. Young people appreciate freedom and flexibility when pursuing their interests independently, but they need more support in self-learning. Independently acquired knowledge should also be considered and recognized in the education system.
The study was completed on behalf of Startup Estonia and has been financed by the European Regional Development Fund within the Startup Estonia program (EU50651). The Startup Estonia program is implemented by the joint institution of EAS and KredEx.
In January-February 2023, on behalf of the Estonian Folk Culture Center, we carried out the project “User study of the list of intangible cultural heritage”. The purpose was to collect input for updating the online environment of the list of spiritual/intangible cultural heritage. We wanted to find out who are the list’s users, how they use the list, and with what goals they come to the list’s website. The second goal was to understand the needs of the users in relation to the online environment, in order to get an overview of the ease of use of the website and the obstacles to be avoided when developing a new environment.
The goal of the new website could be greater involvement, a wider impact and raising awareness of spiritual cultural heritage. The directory could reach different target groups, especially young people, so that the website of the directory and the heritage itself are not limited to a narrow circle. Therefore, it is important to be more visible and covered in the media. It is also important that the website is in dialogue with the user and that the community has the opportunity to speak, for example in the form of a forum or a comment section. All users agree that the list could also be in English.
High-quality content is important to the user. In the case of the list, reliability is valued and the fact that the information has been collected from original sources and the entries have been checked by the council. Users expect the (new) website to be compact and cross-referenced, i.e. connected to other web environments and databases, so that all information is available in one place. Also, the website could accurately describe practical processes and be related to offline activities – for example, excursions and other interesting activities.
The user wants a web environment that is comfortable and easy to use: simplicity, clarity, and overview are important. At the same time, the attractiveness and interactivity of the website is important, while allowing the user to focus on the entries.
HOW DID WE CONDUCT OUR RESEARCH?
As a research method, we used in-depth interviews and focus group interviews. We included people who have had closer contact with the list of Estonian spiritual cultural heritage, but also those who have had less or no contact with the list in order to get a different perspective.
Based on the material, we created personas. After the presentation, there was a group discussion about the future of the online environment and the needs of individuals. We gave the customer slides, a file with a comprehensive description of the personas, persona cards (brief descriptions of the personas) and a post-presentation discussion Mural.
The Estonian Folk Culture Center will use the results of the project to create a new website of the list. At the same time, the results of the project provide information about the users of the list and thus ideas on how more people can reach the list.
By using anthropological methods, Estonian Folk Culture Center wanted to know what the impact of the support measure for folklore festivals has been over the past 4 years and how to support the organizers of folklore festivals so that the impact of the measure would be greater than it is now. We carried out the project from December 2022 to the end of March 2023.
Nearly 60 people were involved in the project through observations, conversations, interviews and a co-creation workshop. Before the fieldwork, we conducted a document analysis for the period 2019–2022. The field work phase started with field observations, in the framework of which we focused on the festival supported by the 4 measures and the area where they take place. During the observations, we communicated with more than 30 people about local life, cultural events and folklore festivals. In parallel with the observations, we conducted 7 in-depth interviews with 8 people, including 1 paired interview. In addition to individual interviews, in the second half of the fieldwork, 2 focus group interviews were held with festival organizers who applied for support. As the last stage of the project, we conducted a workshop based on co-creation methods with experts in the field. The purpose of the inclusive workshop was to validate and collect solutions to the bottlenecks that emerged in the study.
The results of the project are reflected in a short report, at the end of which there are suggestions for the development of both the folk culture field and the support measure for folklore festivals.
In the anthropological consultation project that lasted from March to October 2022, we helped the Harjumaa Museum to understand the needs and expectations of the Keila city government and sub-institutions, current and potential cooperation partners and stakeholders, and visitors to the museum. The seven-month long project consisted of two phases, with a baseline survey and a feedback survey, as well as co-creation workshops involving the parties.
In the basic research, we collected opinions, cooperation experiences and expectations for the museum from former and current cooperation partners and representatives of local governments. The results helped the museum to notice hitherto unused potentials: for example, the location of the museum in the city of Keila is of great value. The natural beauty of the place, the well-organized River Park and the proximity of the river are one of the museum’s great opportunities to invite visitors to the museum, as well as the opportunity to get close to potential visitors who are in nature, to offer outdoor activities, excursions, etc.
Taking into account the thoughts and recommendations of the basic research, we developed pilot programs with the people of the museum in the co-creation workshop, which the museum carried out from June to September. The role of our anthropologists was to collect visitor feedback on the pilot programs. One of the most important conclusions of the visitor survey was that the expectation is primarily to offer activities aimed at local people. The next co-creation workshop was introduced by the experience and inspiration stories of making a community museum, and then we started discussing together which community museum model is suitable for the Harjumaa Museum.
Based on two studies and co-creation workshops, the museum supplemented and improved its development plan and action plan for the following years.
The consultation project was completed with the support of the Museum Accelerator of the Heritage Board.
In the fall of 2022, we developed a spatial and interior design solution concept for the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund to create the Tartu Kvartal office and the Southern Estonian Career Center. The Tartumaa department of the unemployment fund, which has been operating on two floors until now, will be brought together in one building with a new space solution, and a career center with interactive exhibits will be created next to the office as a new addition.
The project was multi-staged and we started with a study of work behavior, which provided an overview of the use of existing premises, work and service processes, and the expectations and needs of employees and customers. In the study of work behavior, we conducted participatory observations both in the Tallinn career center and Tartu offices, group and in-depth interviews with people working in different positions, and asked employees to fill in work time diaries. In total, more than 40 unemployment fund employees and managers participated in the survey, and we also involved customers through observations. The analysis revealed the most important bottlenecks in the existing spatial solution and clear principles from which the new spatial solution should be based. It was important that the new space take into account the changed work organization, where part of the work is done from home, support the work done in the unemployment fund as well as possible, and promote synergy and cooperation.
In the next stage, we brought the decision-makers, the development team and the employees together in co-creation workshops, where we had to set priorities and find compromises in order to move towards a really feasible complete solution in the conditions of the Kvartal building. We discussed which joint agreements could encourage greater cross-use of the premises and how to create a pleasant, logical and safe space from the point of view of both customers and employees. Such an inclusive process helped different perspectives emerge and people better understand each other.
In the final solution, we were based on the idea of the unemployment fund as a counseling organization and primarily had in mind the creation of a suitable environment for counseling. In the room solution concept, we highlighted different room types and their functions and conditions, and divided the rooms into zones. Based on the above, we prepared proposals for the placement of zones in the office space.
During the summer and autumn of 2022, we conducted a target-market analysis for Messente, an Estonian company specialized on bulk sending business SMSes, whose wish was to learn better about their potential new target markets in various Scandinavian countries. As part of the project, we conducted 18 in-depth interviews with existing (6) and potential customers (12) in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark according to pre-agreed company profiles.
The focus of the interviews were the goals, sectoral specificities, challenges, needs and pain points of different companies, as well as the decision-making processes of service outsourcing. We also talked about the usage possibilities and limitations of business SMS-es as Messente’s main service, and the use of various information channels in a broader way.
At Messente’s request, we turned the results of the analysis of the interviews into personas which they will continue to use to promote their communication and sales strategy and expand their market in the Nordic countries.
From November 2021 to May 2022, we helped the Museum of the Bank of Estonia (RahaMu) to finalize its new concept by using anthropological methods. The consultation process was divided into two stages – internal, i.e. the makers’ view, and external, i.e. the visitor’s view. This gave the RahaMu project team a 360-degree perspective and differences of opinions to plan the museum concept, in order to be aware of both internal and external expectations, needs, facilitators and obstacles of the organization.
In phase I, we helped to understand the central bank’s internal vision of the museum’s role now and what it could be after undergoing a renewal course. We mapped attitudes and expectations towards the museum within Eesti Pank in order to formulate the needs of the so-called owner of the museum.
In phase II, we focused on the museum’s potential visitors and target groups in order to get a reflection on the central bank’s visions and reconcile them with each other.
The activities of Eesti Pank museum RahaMu are an important part of the public communication of the Bank of Estonia and communication outside the bank – “RahaMu is a window to the central bank,” the bank’s own employees described the role of the museum. The purpose of the museum is to contribute to the central bank becoming more visible in society, its image more open and its activities more understandable and influential.
The two important activities of the museum are the promotion of financial education through educational programs and events, and the dissemination of relevant knowledge through exhibitions.
We combined the insights gained from the research with co-creative seminars, during which the museum’s project team formulated together the starting points, future vision and future directions of the new museum.
We developed three different versions, which combined programs, exhibition activities and target groups in different volumes – with the aim of creating different visions from which to finally choose the most suitable way of acting to realize the goals, taking into account the available resources.
We conducted a study commissioned by the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA) from July to September 2022. The purpose was to map the use of existing services and gain a deeper insight into the daily life of entrepreneurs/private individuals operating in the countryside, in order to identify the most important pain points in their daily work flow and opportunities for the development of PRIA’s new information gathering digital gateway to provide value-creating comprehensive and knowledge services. The study helps the development to understand who is the entrepreneur/private person operating in the country and what is his current journey when he is looking for the necessary information.
A total of 38 people participated in the study. We conducted observations, in-depth interviews, short interviews and focus group interviews. In the interviews with the farmers, we talked about their personal and company background, organic farming, animals and related matters, the working day of farming, the farmer’s cycle, procurement of supplies, data management, community affiliation and information exchange. We also asked for feedback on the control mechanisms of the Ministry of Rural Affairs, talked about various crises and preparing for them, as well as future plans.
Four personas were completed as the output of the study – a hobby farmer from a young family, a small producer from an older generation, a beef farmer and a dairy farmer.
Agricultural entrepreneurs estimated that a large part of their work is done on the computer these days, but their main activity should still be “on the field”. Larger companies have the option of recruiting someone to handle the applications, but for smaller companies, a very large burden falls on them. In addition, the labor shortage is a major challenge, and farmers increasingly perceive the divide between urban and rural culture. Since the entrepreneurs operating in the countryside depend to a large extent on what happens in nature, including the weather, in a situation where they receive feedback and criticism from the Ministry of Rural Affairs, they take it very painfully – because everything seems to be working against them. Farmers are aware of various crises, but the direct impact of the crises was not felt yet. Climate change, the supply chain crisis and the war in Ukraine are expected to affect them the most over the next few years. At the moment there are no guidelines, for example, on how and what exactly a farmer must reduce in his production, and therefore very few have already started to change what they do in order to be ready for crises.
The Institute of Baltic Studies and RAK studied Estonian diaspora communities on behalf of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project’s final report was launched in summer of 2022. RAK was responsible for conducting and analyzing 12 individual interviews.
The study had two main goals: first, to understand and provide an overview of the current state of Estonian diaspora members – their number, profiles and clusters, attitudes and expectations towards the Estonian state (including the direction of possible return), and secondly, based on the results and conclusions of the study, to provide input into policy making, above all In the design of the Global Estonian Program (ÜEP) and other adjacent programs or measures.
For the qualitative part of the study, we first conducted 12 in-depth interviews with a total of 14 subjects. When preparing the sample, we considered that different types of destination countries, reasons for going, time of absence, level of education, marital status and age would be covered. As a result, Estonians who had been away for a long time, those who returned to Estonia, family members, specialists, students, as well as people who have experienced unequal treatment and discrimination in Estonia (e.g. disabled people, religious minorities) were included. The focus was rather on Estonians who moved during the recent waves of migration. Among the target countries were the closest neighbors (Finland, Russia), countries in Europe and its immediate surroundings (Italy, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Turkey) as well as countries across the ocean (USA, Australia).
One of the most important realizations is that it seems to Estonians across the border that too much of the diaspora policy is focused on promoting the return to Estonia. According to them, too little attention is paid to the possibilities of supporting the homeland while living far away, for example through knowledge, skills or social capital.
However, some of the people interested in returning suffer from a lack of information and cannot search or find the necessary information in the maze of e-Estonia. There is a longing for a portal where all the information needed for a foreigner would come together. Fresh information about Estonia is important, because over time the culture of the host country becomes more and more familiar to the person. If the image related to Estonia is not constantly updated, it will inevitably become outdated. The survey also revealed that people who have moved abroad may unjustifiably feel that their current country of residence is more technologically advanced and includes amenities that are not available in Estonia. The identity of the majority of the Estonian diaspora community is multicultural, that is, in symbiosis with another identity or affiliation.
The full text of the study can be found HERE.
In the spring of 2022, we conducted a study on e-shopping for the Estonian startup FIND.fashion. FIND.fashion wants to help people find the products they want in online stores faster and more efficiently. The purpose of our research was to give them a better understanding of people’s needs, motivations and frustrations when it comes to searching for products in online stores.
We conducted online video interviews with people from Europe and the USA (18 in total, plus one focus group interview) and based on them we created the personas of five e-shoppers with whom FIND.fashion continues to work in its service development.
In addition to the strategies, motivations and habits of different people in e-shops, one of the central topics was where people get their inspiration, what to start looking for in e-shops and how different their original idea is from what they finally decide to buy.
In March-April 2022, we conducted a study of the overall experience of the patient’s treatment journey at the Tartu University Hospital. The research focused on different stages of the patient journey and helped to highlight the topics that matter most to people. Both outpatient and inpatient patients were included in the study.
In addition to questionnaire surveys, site observations took place in the buildings of the L. Puusepa 8 and L. Puusepa 1a clinics, short and in-depth interviews were also conducted with patients and their attendants, and patients were asked to fill in experience diaries. The qualitative experience survey conducted among the clinic’s patients was the first of its kind in Estonian hospitals. During the treatment journey, the patients’ thoughts and experiences of the spatial environment of the clinic as a whole were mapped – arrival at the hospital, orientation and waiting there, solutions for children and people with special needs. They were also asked about human relations and communication, referring to pre-visit communication, information and communication shared at the reception, post-health care service or communication between visits. In addition to hospital treatment, daily and human details – care, sleep, food, self-care, free time and exercise options, and leaving the hospital – were mapped through patients undergoing inpatient treatment.
As a result of the study, the experiences and expectations of patients are better known, which makes it possible to apply this knowledge in everyday hospital work. For example, a clear reminder system with instructions both before and after treatment, expanding reservation options, supplementing house and parking information, organizing visitor information, making waiting areas more patient-friendly, also considering small patients and people with special needs, expanding food, exercise and leisure options.
From fall 2021 to spring 2022, in cooperation with HAAP Consulting, we conducted a study for the Estonian Ministry of Justice, the aim of which was to understand which sanctions the offenders themselves consider to be the most efficient and effective, and what this assessment depends on. We analyzed how offenders perceive the expediency, legality and impact of the sanction (punishment and/or other means of influence) imposed on them on recidivism and future coping. We also analyzed how offenders evaluate the procedural process before receiving a sanction and the work of prison and probation afterwards.
The study as a whole consisted of document analysis, interviews in prisons and qualitative analysis. We were lucky to have the qualitative part of the study, which during the analysis also turned out to be the part carrying the final report. We conducted a total of 25 semi-structured in-depth interviews with people who participated in the process of criminal proceedings, 12 of whom were inmates in Tartu, Tallinn and Viru prisons at the time of the interviews.
Summarizing the results of the study, it can be said that offenders generally do not protest against the sentence and do not argue that they should not be punished for the crime they committed. To a large extent, offenders’ evaluations of the impact of the punishment as a whole are related to the issue of communication – how the punishment is perceived depends very strongly on the entire procedural process and whether the offenders understand the purpose of the punishment and obligations imposed on them. If they feel that too much has been done to them or that the reasons for the punishment have not been sufficiently explained, the punishment seems unfair and imposed by someone from outside. A respectful and considerate attitude in the procedural process and the involvement of the offenders themselves in the sentencing process gives them the opportunity to have a say and thereby take greater responsibility for the consequences.
In the summer of 2022, we conducted a supporter survey for the Estonian Human Rights Center (EIK) in order to understand what motivates making a one-time or permanent donation to the EIK, what on the other hand prevents making a one-time or permanent donation, and what are the needs of the EIK’s supporters. To do this, we gathered input from EIK’s current and potential donors. The survey results will serve as input for EIK to develop a regular donor package and messages for current and future donors.
During the project, we talked to 12 people who are either permanent donors, occasional donors or followers of EIK. We did a group interview with six regular donors, where we talked about their donation habits and their journey, experience and needs as regular donors to EIK. Individual interviews took place with people who have made one-time donations to the EIK or who follow the activities of the EIK, but have not supported the organization financially.
The research revealed that people’s donation habits and needs depend partly on how far they are in the donation journey, but also partly on what type of donor they are. So, for example, some supporters respond primarily to emotional appeals, prefer to donate to a specific person or cause, and primarily make one-time donations. Still others are happy to donate to the organization as a whole, prefer to make permanent donations and are strategic in their decisions – for example, donating to those who are unlikely to be supported by very many.
Although the participants of the study were generally aware that a permanent donation is the most useful form of support for the organization, in order for this knowledge to take root, it is still necessary to carry out extensive information work in society. In addition, a clear motivation for taking this step is also needed – either personal, which can be the creation of a permanent job, or external, for example, the organization’s funding is endangered or some critical social problem is raised.
In spring 2022, the Estonian Good Deed Foundation commissioned a study from us to better understand how people get to teaching and how different degree programs, acquiring the teaching profession, and completing further training are related to teaching. During the research, we conducted interviews with 20 people of different ages, among them students studying to become teachers, people who have reached the teaching profession from other walks of life, and those who have given up the teaching profession.
As a result of our fieldwork and research, we created six personas, with the help of which we illustrated different journeys of becoming a teacher and the major pain points of learning to be a teacher, acquiring a profession and working as a teacher. In summary, it can be said that in the course of learning to become a teacher, the most lacking is thorough practice, during which one could try to understand a topic from beginning to end, but during which a mentor would always be at hand to help deal with more difficult situations. A more individual approach is also expected, so that everyone can acquire the knowledge and skills they need, and not repeat what they have already acquired.
At the end of May, the study was followed by a meeting of the Teachers’ Academy working group, where we introduced the personalities and held a workshop, the aim of which was to find more flexible solutions/opportunities for how the journey of becoming a teacher could look like in the future. The workshop also had participants from the Ministry of Education, Tallinn University and Tartu University.
The research was financed by the Heateo Education Fund.
From April 2021 to May 2022, together with the Center for Applied Research Centar, think tank Praxis, and Turu-uuringute AS, we helped to conduct the tender “Evaluation of the macroeconomic impact of the creation and implementation of the Employment Support Scheme for the Ministry of Social Affairs”. The evaluation consisted of several analyses, as a result of which an overview of the impact of the work capacity reform on its main target groups in 2016-2020 was completed.
With the reform, the assessment of work capacity was transferred from the Estonian Social Insurance Board to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and a new methodology of work capacity assessment was introduced, in which the focus was on the assessment of work capacity instead of the assessment of work incapacity. Receiving work capacity support for people with partial working capacity was linked to an activity requirement – activity in the labor market, studies or job search – and the range and availability of services supporting activity was expanded.
Our task was to collect feedback from the main target groups of the reform – people with reduced working capacity and employers. In total, we conducted 6 in-depth interviews with employers and 38 in-depth interviews with people belonging to the target group, for example, those whose work ability has been assessed as absent or partial, and also those who, in their last assessment, received a decision that their work ability has not decreased. We asked people what their lives and livelihoods were like before and after the reform; whether and how the procedure for assessing work ability has changed in people’s experiences; what kind of supporting help in the form of services both employers and employees with reduced working capacity need in order to readjust the work environment and the nature of work in case of permanent health loss.
The conclusion of the final study is that the reform was an appropriate and effective measure that positively affected the growth of employment of people with reduced work capacity. Now we can no longer talk about a reform and a transition period, but about a new functioning system. But the system needs consistent analysis and, with it, development, so that the created services serve their purpose. For example, many people who took part in the survey complain that they do not know when to contact the unemployment fund, the social security office or the local government to get some support services.
In spring 2022, we helped an art-house cinema Tartu Elektriteater collect input for the development of its new cinema software. The new software was developed with the aim of simplifying their daily routine tasks and thereby gaining more time for the main work, i.e. creating a program. In order to use this software to help other small cinemas optimize their work in the future, it was necessary to understand what conditions the system should meet, so that it also meets the needs of other cinemas. Thus, the aim of our study was to map the experiences, problem areas and needs of European cinemas in relation to the use of cinema software. The obtained results helped Elektriteater to improve the functionality and user experience of the software it was developing.
Altogether, teams from 16 European film theaters and two different theaters were involved in the study. We conducted in-depth interviews where we asked them to describe their everyday tools, show their work processes and, if possible, share them via screen. We tested the demo version of the finished software with six cinemas in order to find errors in the user experience in addition to the functionality. At the end of the project, we organized a separate workshop with three Estonian cinemas to specify the needs related to the transition to the software.
One of the interesting observations from the study was that the adoption of new software features is significantly hindered by people’s need for control and the power of habit. For example, even if the existing cinema software allowed certain functions to be used within the program, cinema program managers still preferred to perform these work steps in the good old Excel program, which seemed more familiar to them. The Excels shared on the screen, however, gave a good idea of which information fields cinema managers actually use the most in their daily work.
The study was funded by the Europa Cinemas “Collaborate to Innovate” project, and the study report was also translated into English to be shared not only with the software development team but also with all participating cinemas.
First – who are the young people behind the acronym “NEET”? The abbreviation comes from the English “not in education, employment or training” and means a person who does not study, does not work and does not participate in education or training. Youth is defined as the age group between 15 and 29 years old, and currently 14.2% of European Union member states are NEET youth.
In July-December 2021, together with the Estonian NGOs Social Innovation Lab and Stories of Impact, we run a project called “Creating a future cooperation model for providing support to young people in a NEET situation using the service design method”. The aim of the model is to highlight a solution on how to support young people in a NEET situation at the local government level through the cooperation of various parties, and to reach the smoothest possible process from the point of view of the target group.
The input for the creation of the model was 6 co-creation workshops and parallel studies among young people in the NEET situation.
The role of RAK’s anthropologists was to conduct research and create young personas based on them and put together itineraries. We conducted in-depth interviews with young people, with which we thoroughly mapped the problems and needs of young people and how they perceive their surroundings on a daily basis.
In turn, we validated the journeys created in the workshops both with the young people themselves and with professionals who work with young people. It was important to add the young people’s view and understanding of which of today’s practices do not work, the reasons for this and what the process of receiving support should be, in their opinion, to the journeys put together by the experts.
As a result of the interviews and co-creation we created:
• 6 personas of young people, or collective portraits with diagrams of their progress so far;
• 6 customer journeys, or models of youth movement in an “ideal world situation” – how to move from your initial needs to positive solutions with the support of a cooperation network;
• Cross-sector cooperation model for supporting young people in NEET situation and services for local governments.
In general if you look at the problems, obstacles, needs and wishes of young people, they were quite similar in each region, while the opportunities offered by local governments in supporting young people and offering them services strongly depend on the region and local opportunities.
Conversations with young people came out very strongly, and when applying the model, it must be remembered that in order to successfully support young people in a NEET situation, it is necessary to first listen to the young person, their thoughts and problems, and then start finding solutions and setting goals together. Offering only opportunities and directing them to services without actively involving the young people themselves in the process does not work and does not help the young person take responsibility for shaping their future.
A total of 30 people from 16 organizations, programs or institutions participated in the co-creation process. The participants were from: Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Education and Research, Social Insurance Board, Education and Youth Board (including representative of Pathfinder centers), Estonian Unemployment Fund, Estonian Open Youth Centers Association (Noorte Tugila), Johannes Mihkelson Center, Development Center of Unique School (STEP program), Estonian Youth Associations Union . In addition, representatives from the following local governments participated: Põltsamaa, Viimsi and Elva parishes and Narva, Viljandi, Tallinn and Pärnu city governments.
The creation of the model is financed from the structural support funds of the European Union Social Fund and through the budget of the Education and Youth Board in the framework of the directive of the Minister of Education and Science of 29.06.2015 No. 281 “Establishing the conditions for granting support for the implementation of the activity “Involvement of youth at risk of exclusion and improvement of youth employment readiness”.
Commissioned by the Estonian state-owned real estate companyRiigi Kinnisvara AS, we carried out a multi-stage project from the fall of 2021 to the spring of 2022 in preparation for the design of the State services house to be built on Kärdla’s central square.
We started with a study of work behavior in the institutions moving to the Kärdla State House, which provided an overview of the existing use of space, work behavior and service processes. A total of 15 institutions participated in the study, and in seven of them we also conducted participation observations; we conducted in-depth interviews with 31 people. A total of 15 institutions participated in the study, and in seven of them we also conducted participation observations. In addition, we collected a total of six working time diaries from employees of institutions where there are more people and where work profiles are varied. The analysis brought out the descriptions of the work profiles of the institutions (personas) and today’s customer journeys, the differences of which significantly determine the needs of the institutions for the solutions of the new state house.
In the second stage, we conducted inclusive co-creation workshops to specify the interior program with the employees of the institutions moving to the Kärdla State House. At the beginning of March 2022, workshops were held in Kärdla under the leadership of RAK / CAAE anthropologists and Karisma architects, who won the conceptual design of the architectural competition with their idea “Pruht”. In cooperation with RKAS, we brought together representatives of various institutions to find solutions for making the future state building functional and pleasant, both as a work and customer service environment. Together, we explored the cross-use of spaces, proposals for a co-working environment, and how the future state building relates to the surrounding public space, services and the local community.
At the beginning of 2022, we conducted a study for the Estonian Maritime Museum. The aim of the project was to provide an overview of the experience of children and families visiting the Seaplane Harbour Museum branch and to understand what the children’s needs and expectations are in relation to the permanent exhibition. During the research, we conducted observations along with short interviews, visited the museum with the children by prior agreement, conducted in-depth interviews and asked the children to capture the museum visit with a camera and to talk about it later with the help of photos.
We included 19 children from 11 families in the study using the methods of shadowing, photo voice and in-depth interviews. The result helps the museum to understand their visitor experience from the children’s perspective and to understand how children would like to see the permanent exhibition. We found that it is possible to make the children’s visit both more educational and more enjoyable by bringing the information even closer to the children and taking into account the central role of parents in shaping the children’s visit.
The next stage of the project was passed on to the creativity accelerator VIVITA with a workshop held after the presentation, where we discussed together with the Lennusadama team how to direct the visit of children and families and to convey the exposition even better to children. VIVITA then conducted a design sprint with the children. As a result, they designed 4 new objects to the new permanent exhibition to be opened in 2023.
In cooperation with Vivita and the Estonian public sector Innovation team, we held a webinar for wider audience to raise awareness among civil servants, politicians, opinion leaders, desingers etc. As a result, this visual sheet of instructions was born – feel free to download it and share it!
Author: Siiri Taimla-Rannala, Joonmeedia