Carnegie Mellon University
ssahasra_Masters_Design_2021.pdf (26.49 MB)

Plause: A Design Probe for Collective Futuring of Work

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posted on 2021-07-07, 15:40 authored by Sanika Sahasrabuddhe
The COVID-19 pandemic gave us a glimpse of the future of work, fundamentally changing several professions. For restaurants and cafe workers in the service industry, that glimpse of the future had a disproportionate impact. These places of gathering, landmarks of a street shut down for months, unable to navigate change. What is at stake for
precarious workers is that many of these jobs might not come back even after the pandemic subsides. How do workers sense change at their workplaces? Can anticipating a multitude of changes enable them to initiate conversations to collectively imagine desirable futures of work? During 2020-21, I conducted contextual inquiries to learn about workers’ hopes, fears, and images of a preferred future and how much of a sense of agency they feel in driving change. The lived experiences of first, workers who lost their jobs
during the pandemic and second, with restaurant workers, directed me to crafting a design probe called Plause. In this thesis, I describe my research leading to Plause’s development. Plause is a game or design method designed to be a futuring tool; it resolves to include the voice of workers in discussions about the future of work and
where it is heading. Plause facilitates an idea base for policy researchers to pull from. It facilitates meaningful conversations, for collective visioning about the future of work with groups of employees. These ideas that encode
the lived experience can provide seeds to inspire organizational or policy change. The game has four key elements: values, trends, change and encounter. It urges players to reflect on the values that drive them to work,
imagine trends and change that may emerge in the future and generate hypothetical encounters in the context of these trends and changes to shape equitable policies to mitigate unforeseen change.




Degree Type

  • Master's Thesis


  • Design

Degree Name

  • Master of Design (MDes)


Dan Lockton Molly Steenson