HR Hackathon Alliance is a global community of HR rebels who believe in the power of human centered design to help solve our most pressing workplace challenges. 

Organizer: Nicole Dessain

Tackling challenges experienced at the front lines of Human Resources. YOU, joining forces with others around the world who want to find solutions to how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the world of work.

It’s time to fight back! Join #HRvsVirus by contributing your unique skills and perspectives as we come together to design solutions that will impact peoples’ lives and livelihoods.​


My Role: Designer & Researcher

Duration: 72 Hours

My Team: Moderator: Barbara Boldt

                      HR Experts: Stuti Dhandania, Janke Bahnen

                      Data and Analytics Expert: Katerina Bohle

                      Design & Research Expert: Mackenzie Rohn

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With people working from home, in a panic stricken environment, with everything changing by the second- from a health perspective and from a legislative perspective, we are all feeling a little disconnected. It is hard and yet critical for HR professionals to make meaningful connections and conversation to help maintain the morale of the employees. Employee Experience looks very different at this point. It is a pressing need now.

Problem Statement:

How might we make more meaningful connections with our teams and employees during social distancing?


  • HR teams are finding it challenging to keep employees motivated, productive, and connected during this time.

  • They fear that this could negatively affect employee job performance and impact business

  • The pandemic might be bringing people closer because "we are all in this together" but that will end when the crisis is over.


After introductions and understanding each team member’s strengths and expertise, we divided roles and delegated tasks.

My Role:

  • Wrote the interview script and survey 

  • Conducted 2 of the 8 interviews



  • 8 interviews

    •  HR Team Members and Employees 

  • 57 Survey Responses

  • Secondary research including finding articles and gathering statistics 

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People are having a positive experiences during the crisis

  • Employees feel more productive and have better time management

  • Trust between employees and organizations remained or increased thanks to transparent and open communication​

The way people make meaningful connections has changed

  • Less physical interaction has translated into more meaningful virtual interactions 

  • We are seeing the more “personal” side of people (dogs, kids) and we are making time for that

  • People are getting more comfortable sharing their life - there is a sense of humanity - we are all human and have similar issues.

  • In some way it is also breaking down the hierarchy

Defining “Meaningful Connections”

  • Having empathy and compassion

  • connecting with someone on a deeper, more personal level

  • Leads to greater satisfaction at work


"Short hallway conversations don’t happen so some of the personal/individual discussion is harder."


"I’ve had more “real” conversations with my direct reports -- about their personal life, their anxieties, their work ethic/rhythm, etc. It’s made us closer as individuals and as a team."


"Our open communication helps us. I can share my fears with them openly, and I trust their advice."


Humanizing the Workplace

  • The crisis is forcing companies to accept initiatives like “bring your whole self to work” and making space for people’s life situations. 

  • People have become more intentional with creating connections with people at work 

Based on our findings from the research, we determined we needed to redefine our How Might We statement. Since our findings showed us that employees are feeling more connected than ever before, we don’t need to find a solution to forming meaningful connections - we need to find a way for HR teams to continue to foster meaningful connections in the workplace beyond the pandemic. 


Redefining the Challenge: 

How might we help employees maintain meaningful connections to the company and their colleagues in a way that builds on the connections created during the crisis?


Design Principles:

  • Create an open space that humanizes employees, cultivates empathy, and is intentional because people are developing more meaningful connections when they can be their full selves 

  • Create a transparent and trustworthy relationship between the organization and the employees because people have a more positive view of their organization when communication is open and honest

  • Help HR leaders bring this open space we have been experiencing virtually during the crisis into the real world (physical space) because it will be beneficial to the company and its employees to continue to encourage and support meaningful connections. 




Five Minute Brainstorm: We all spent five minutes writing down as many ideas as possible. We shared our ideas and wrote each of them down on post-it notes in a collaborative tool called Miro


Impact vs Effort: We organized our ideas into an impact vs. effort chart. We chose to focus our solutions on Low Effort/High Impact due to the timing and constraints of the hackathon

From a UX perspective, I made sure to ask my team questions like:

  • This is great, but will HR teams use it?

  • This is innovative, but do we have the time and budget?

  • This is quick and easy, but does it solve the actual problem?

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We discussed and voted on our final solution: a digital platform that would replicate the "open space" that has been created during the crisis that allows employees to bring more of themselves to work which leads to more meaningful connections.


As the only UX Designer on the team, I was in charge of creating the prototype. While the others worked on finalizing the presentation, I hopped into Sketch and got to work. 


Since our final presentation was due at 6pm that night, I didn’t have much time. I spent 30 minutes pulling inspiration from dribbble.com and looking for a UI design kit. Then I started rapid prototyping and shared the designs with the rest of my team. They gave some feedback, I made quick edits and added the logo that was created by another team member.


The next hour was prepping for the presentation/pitch. I was selected  by my team to be the presenter alongside our moderator. 


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Logo created by Leila Matta


​The Community creates a transparent and trustworthy relationship between the organization and the employees because they can collaborate and be an active part of fostering meaningful connections in their organization all year long.

​The Profile allows employees to create a profile with their bio and interests (details unrelated to work) and manage their stories. 

From The Dashboard, employees can easily navigate to the different "rooms" - Stories, Community, or The Hallway

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Hallway Copy_iphone8plussilver_portrait.

Stories creates an open space that humanizes employees, cultivates empathy, and is intentional.  People are able to develop more meaningful connections when they can share their full selves and be inspired by others' stories. 

The Hallway replicates the experience of bumping into colleagues in the hall. It cultivates spontaneous conversations and unexpected experiences. 


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Graphic created by Leah Lavelle