Designing New Concepts for IKEA’s Omni-Channel Co-Worker Experience

More Info


Inter IKEA Systems B.V. (also known as Core Business Franchise or CBF) is the franchisor and the owner of the IKEA Concept. By means of this franchising system, IKEA’s vision of creating a better everyday life for the many people is upheld through the collaboration, feedback, sharing and joint development between the franchisor (CBF) and the IKEA franchisees.

IKEA Culture & Learning is responsible for strengthening the IKEA culture and empowering IKEA co-workers through their own abilities. However, the current tools provided to enhance co-workers’ competences, gather their feedback and discover potential business improvements lack in cohesion, ease of use, relevance and active dialogue. Therefore, this project focused on designing new concepts for bi-directional information sharing between the franchisor and customer-facing IKEA co-workers. The final concept ensures the development of IKEA co-workers by presenting IKEA Concept Knowledge, Learning Solutions and IKEA Product Information given by CBF and Range & Supply.

I started the project with a literature review about the modern-day Employee Experience and based on three literature studies I established the theoretical parameters of my thesis’ design context to create a theoretical framework. The literature framework consisted of the following research findings that acted as the guiding principles for the design process: Daniel Pink’s Intrinsic Drivers of Motivation: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose (Pink, 2009); Joseph Pine’s Drivers of Experience Value: Time well spent & Time well invested (Pine, 2020); Bi-directional Information Sharing via a Digital Infrastructure (Koenders et al., 2018).

In parallel to the literature review, I conducted interviews with CBF employees and IKEA Delft co-workers. This was to contextualize the theoretical findings with real-life, IKEA stories and experiences from both stakeholders. From these interviews came the following core insights:

1. CBF wants to be more accommodating and foreseeing in terms of IKEA co-worker learning needs and overall learning experience
2. CBF wants to create more points of involvement and interaction with IKEA co-workers to get their feedback on the IKEA Learning Offer
3. CBF wants to add more tangibility and guidance to the IKEA Learning Experience.

1. Co-workers want a relevant and personalized IKEA Learning Experience
2. Co-workers want to be more involved in CBF projects and be kept up to date on the status of their feedback
3. Co-workers’ autonomy in their learning experience is strong and that should not change.

These insights guide the implementation of the concept idea because they’re based on more detailed and subjective findings and therefore, they contribute to a more specific level of what the concept should achieve as opposed to the literary findings.

Additionally, L&D managers from external companies were also interviewed and to bring more meaning to the findings of my research and design context. These findings are presented as ‘advice’ within this assignment because even though the findings were valuable, they represent a different company or industry than IKEA. Therefore, these findings were more suggestive than imperative to include.

With these findings, I went through an iterative process to define the design statement of this assignment. First, I created user stories, which I then clustered into design opportunities, and conducted collaborative brainstorming sessions with IKEA people to gather content for my individual ideation cycle. It then became clear that the design process was sprawling and didn’t have a clear design goal. So, based on an initial design statement, I created three concept idea directions that each had a digital infrastructure as a facilitator of their goals. These directions proved to show a disconnect with the initial design statement as they contained design decisions about the manifestation of the concept idea that weren’t reflected in the initial design statement. So, by conducting user feedback sessions with IKEA Delft co-workers, I gathered their feedback on the relation of the design qualities in the initial design statement to the concept idea directions and finalized the design statement to eliminate the disconnect that had established itself during the design process. The final design statement is:

The concept should enable Inter IKEA Systems B.V. to facilitate promptive learning of the IKEA Concept so that customer-facing co-workers feel autonomous, purposeful, and heard. This should be achieved through customizable layers, visualization of co-worker growth and omni-channel feedback.

From these user feedback sessions, I gathered feedback on the three concept idea directions and evaluated them based on their fulfillment of the overall goal of facilitating promptive learning of the IKEA Concept, as well as the goals to make co-workers feel autonomous through customizable layers, feel purposeful through visualization of co-worker growth, and feel heard through omni-channel feedback tools. The same was done for an iterated version of the concept idea direction based on the feedback gathered during the user sessions.

This potential fulfillment of the design statement was the deciding factor for the final chosen concept idea direction which was a combination of Direction 1 and Direction 3, and ultimately led to my final concept idea, Ändamål.

For IKEA co-workers, Ändamål is a social performance support platform that presents a personalized experience of the IKEA Learning Offer with relevant learning content and personal development tools. By providing a digital space for IKEA co-workers to come together, share their experiences and feedback with all IKEA people, Ändamål gives IKEA co-workers the drive to continue their purposeful learning journey and improve the IKEA Concept.

The platform is introduced at the beginning of someone’s IKEA career during their onboarding process. It has been designed with customer-facing co-workers in mind but can be used for IKEA co-workers from all departments since they all have their own experiential expertise. The platform is then used throughout the co-worker’s entire time at IKEA as it helps them to document their professional growth.

Ändamål centers its features around the co-worker’s needs of autonomy, mastery and purpose. Co-workers are encouraged to choose their own development path at IKEA (autonomy) and by offering learning content that specifically aligns with their (team’s) goals, Ändamål makes every IKEA learning moment time well spent. The additional personal development tools that enable co-workers to document their learning goals and visualize their growth, prompt their need for intellectual challenge (mastery), thus creating time well invested. To create the feeling of purpose and togetherness, Ändamål’s digital communities connect IKEA co-workers to colleagues with shared interests, goals, or experiences, but also facilitates active omni-channel feedback loops between CBF and co-workers. Ändamål essentially removes the disconnect in communication and collaboration between CBF and IKEA co-workers in a way that puts the co-workers’ needs first and makes both stakeholders equal partners in their relationship.