Corporate benefits for industrial site employees.


I joined the Open Innovation Project “The Mission IV: Work – Be next!” organized by Futury in cooperation with Schaeffler, Vonovia, Wisag, Nestle, Ecolog, and Deutsche Bank in October 2020. Since then, I have worked as a Product Designer on the development of innovative solutions to ensure a sustainable future of work – from the problem statement and ideation to the development of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).



“Consider the reality of today’s job market. We have a massive skills gap. Even with record unemployment, millions of skilled jobs are unfilled because no one is trained or willing to do them. Meanwhile, unemployment among college graduates is at an all-time high. The majority of those graduates with jobs are not even working in their field of study. Plus, they owe a trillion dollars in student loans. A trillion! And still, we push a four-year college degree as the best way for the most people to find a successful career?”

-Mike Rowe

Labor shortage is a rising concern in Europe due to an increase in overeducation and a lack of sufficient pull factors for blue-collar workers. As per the 2018 report by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, there could be 2.4 million unfilled manufacturing jobs between 2018 and 2028. In addition, after COVID hit and many office employees were allowed to work from home, the blue-collar workers had to continue going to work, which made their jobs even less attractive. 

Schaeffler, a German automotive production company, approached us in need of a solution ensuring that blue-collar workers can receive benefits similar to those enjoyed by office employees.

Production plants in Germany can be as big as cities. For example, there are 6,000 people working in Schaeffler headquarters in Herzogenaurach.


UI/UX Designer


UX Research, Wireframing, Visual Design, Prototyping


Business model canvas, User flows & MVP Prototype


12 weeks


Secondary Research

I started with secondary research mapping companies that are listed as the best places to work and analyzing what kind of benefits these companies offer to their employees. I then compared these benefits with solutions that are in place for blue-collar workers.

The research showed that white-collar workers have more flexibility because they can work from home and because they have flexible working hours if they go to the office. In addition, because they work in cities they can organize their daily lives around their work schedule. For instance, they can go shopping on their way back from work.

On the other hand, blue-collar workers lack flexibility in working hours, often have to work night shifts and do not have opportunities to work from home. Moreover, they are unable to organize their daily activities around their work schedule because they work in industrial sites far from main cities. For instance, they cannot go shopping on their way back from work and they may find eating healthy challenging because their lifestyle is affected by rotating shifts. 


To better understand our potential users, we conducted online surveys and received 75 responses. In addition, we interviewed 40 people in different roles. The interviews were semi-structured and all the questions were open-ended to make sure respondents could think freely. 

The results of the interviews indicated two main challenges that blue-collar workers struggle with in their daily lives:

    • Over two-thirds of blue-collar workers felt left behind or disconnected from their company
    • More than half of blue-collar workers thought shift routine and lack of flexibility negatively affect their daily lives

Persona development

Based on the research insights, I developed a primary persona, with his goals and pain points, demonstrating our target users.

    Design question

    The findings of the secondary research and interviews helped us further narrow down our problem statement and reframe our final design question:

    How can we help blue-collar workers feel more connected with the company and offer them benefits addressing their daily challenges?

      Competitive Analysis

      I analyzed the features of several reward platforms that many companies have in place to improve the well-being of employees and provide benefits to them.

        Opportunities for PlanCo

        The analysis helped me identify key opportunities for PlanCo. Create a 360 degrees platform that will combine the provision of community and physical services to blue-collar workers in a specific rural location. The platform will focus on improving work-life balance for blue collar workers and creating a positive working atmosphere.



          The results of research, interviews and analysis, as well as the final design question led me to the conclusion that PlanCo should include the following two components as part of the overall solution. Both components should be linked to a specific location limiting users to interact only with colleagues based in the same industrial site.

          “We need more social interaction with our colleagues”.

          “When you have a late shift, the whole week is actually gone.”

          A mobile app 

          that would provide blue-collar workers with a communication channel to interact with each other and strengthen their belonging to the community. The app would give the possibility to share information with all staff and respond as comments to all or as private messages. It would enable the employees to share information, offer and ask for favors, give recommendations and more. For instance, Max could offer to colleagues that he is going by car to his shift at 8pm and they could join him. Max could then make friends with people beyond his department and they could start sharing rides to work on a regular basis.

          “We need more social interaction with our colleagues”.

          A smart locker system 

          that blue-collar workers could use to receive deliveries on site and free of delivery fees. This would address their main pain point that it is difficult to combine the shift system with daily routines. For instance, Max could order groceries to the PlanCo locker and pick them up after his evening shift. This would allow him to avoid a lengthy travel to the stores far away from the production sites and his home before his shift. He would benefit from avoiding delivery fees and order whatever he needs, even if it is a very small order, because PlanCo would group orders ensuring that the minimum cart value is exceeded. 

          For supermarkets and other service providers, PlanCo would also be an attractive partner because it would group a large number of orders, which would decrease the most costly part of the delivery process, which is the last mile. PlanCo would also promote local companies making their products available to construction site employees and digitizing their businesses.  

          In order to incentivize the use of the app, PlanCo will offer rewards when users help their coworkers or use their services.

          “When you have a late shift, the whole week is actually gone.”

          Business Goals

          PlanCo will be the first app enabling companies to offer a benefits package that:

          • Is designed for industrial sites in full consideration of employees’ habits and needs ​
          • Combines community effects with physical services

          The core goals of PlanCo will be to:

          • Create a feeling of belonging and inclusion among production employees
          • Connect colleagues beyond departments on non-company topics
          • Reach and engage production employees despite working environment limitations
          • Access non work-related benefits intuitively via private phone
          • Save money and time on daily basis​
          • Improve employee satisfaction and workplace attractivity through facilitating benefits

          Business Model

          Our business model will be based on two revenue streams. The annual subscription fees paid in full by companies that will want to offer benefits for their employees; and affiliation fees paid by third-party companies that will want to sell products through PlanCo.

          Key Consideration

          Due to Schaeffler’s very strict privacy policies, we decided that PlanCo will be an independent app, and will not be integrated with other IT systems of the company. 

          This solution will allow us to develop and implement the app quickly and cost efficiently because it will not have to comply with the privacy policies of the company. The app will also not be obligatory, so it will not create an additional workload for employees addressing the concerns of Schaeffler’s work council.

          However, because PlanCo will be an independent app, we will not be able to use a list of employees from the company register and we will not be able to use other internal data, such as information on shifts. PlanCo will also not serve as an information sharing tool with all staff but only with those who choose to download and use the app

          Initial Solution

          I started sketching low fidelity prototypes to begin shaping these ideas into an app.

          Final Solution

          Once the team was satisfied with the low fidelity prototypes, I started working on shaping the app further through high fidelity prototypes. I was inspired by Wallapop, Nextdoor, Vezzy and Peerby in developing the design and I used Figma to build the UI.

          Scenario 1

          Max wants to go for a weekend trip but he does not have a tent. He decides to ask the PlanCo community if someone is willing to lend him a tent.

          Task 1: Add a new request 

          Max posts on the PlanCo community a message asking his colleagues to lend him a tent.

          Task 2: Receive help

          Max receives a push notification letting him know that one of his colleagues, Tobias, is willing to lend him a tent for the weekend. Max opens the notification that leads him to a private chat with Tobias in which they agree on the details.

          Task 3: Pick up the tent

          Tobias walks to the PlanCo lockers and requests a door to drop off the tent for Max. PlanCo app makes a locker available for him and sends a notification to Max with the locker number and the QR code that Max can use to open it.

          Scenario 2

          Max would like to buy some groceries before departing for his trip. However, by the time he will be out of his shift the shops will be closed, so he decides to use PlanCo to order the groceries.

          Task 1: Order groceries

          Max goes to the grocery section of the PlanCo app and selects what he needs.

          Task 2: Checkout

          Max pays for his groceries using his credit card.

          Task 3: Collect groceries

          When groceries are delivered to the PlanCo locker, Max receives a notification with the QR code allowing him to open the locker and pick them up. On the way back from his evening shift, Max collects the groceries from the PlanCo locker.



          Input from stakeholders through coaching sessions 

          As part of the project we received several coaching sessions with different stakeholders including Bain & Company, which is a global consultancy that helps change-makers define the future. These sessions were very useful in shaping the design of the app because they challenged our solutions and taught us to fall in love with the problem, not with the idea.

          Cross-functional collaboration

          Cross-functional collaboration was very important in moving the project forward. It was critical to exchange information between team members everyday, which we did through daily stand-up meetings. Creating the environment of trust was only possible by taking time to educate my partners on the value of design thinking and accepting their inputs and feedback. As a result, we learned and grew together as a collaborative cross-functional team.

          Working with large corporations

          Working with a large corporation proved to be very bureaucratic and slow because there were many departments involved in the development of an idea. Moreover, we had to comply with many rules and policies affecting our product.

          Next Steps

          In the winter of 2020 PlanCo gained its first pilot client, Schaeffler. A grant from Schaeffler will allow PlanCo to:

          • Build a functional MVP 
          • Test the MVP with Schaeffler employees 
          • Address feedback received from the employees and iterate the app
          • Establish partnerships