Our first five months long “From Idea to Digital Service and Product” -journey was implemented in January 2022 with almost 20 people, that had a digital product or service idea, that they wanted to develop further. As COVID-19 was in a rather tremendous phase at the time, we decided to start the journey online. 

After having discussions with participants, it seemed better to keep the entire journey online. This is something, that all of us have learned rather well during the pandemic. We all now, how to act in Teams or Zoom, how to share screen, how to interact with each other etc. Also, dividing the entire group into smaller teams in Teams makes it easier to discuss and comment others’ ideas and thoughts. Based on reflections and feedback, we managed to do it well: during the journey participants got a lot of new knowledge about digital product development and networks. 

Our second journey started in November 2022 with new, innovative group of people. For this journey, we had planned to arrange it live as contrary to our first journey. Why? Even though it worked well online, we wanted to have an experience of arranging rather similar set live and then compare these two. However, as COVID-19 infections have yet again raised during the fall, we decided to ask from our participants about their thoughts before the journey. Some said that they would prefer to be online, some preferred to be on-site and then some said, that they would like to participate sometimes online and sometimes on-site. So, we had to rethink the journey through. 

During the pandemic we all have had both good and bad experiences of working or studying online or on-site. Some say that they want to solely work at the office. The others say that there is no going back to the old working habits. According to recent working paper of Harvard University – Business School, it seems that there is a sweet spot somewhere in the middle. According to their study, hybrid is the right balance, which represents the best of both worlds. 

So, we decided to go all the way hybrid. We divided the participants in two groups: participants that wanted to solely participate on-site are in one group and the other group consists of participants of which some are always online, and some are either online or on-site depending on their schedule. DigiReactor mentors are mainly on-site, but they have also been shared into these two groups. This way each and every one can participate for the DigiReactor journey just as they prefer. 

As we are now in the middle of our journey, we don´t know yet for sure, whether this was a good decision or not. But for now, it seems to be more of an opportunity rather than a thread. We have had a few technical hiccups, but other than that, the arrangement has been working well. Just now when we are finalizing the arrangements for our third workshop, I am preparing materials both for digital tools and for a pen and a paper. Thus, yet again everyone can choose the best way for them to work with the topic. I believe that the sweet spot is not the same for all of us and we should consider the different preferences when that is possible. 

Read more about the Harvard paper: “Does Hybrid Work Actually Work? Insights from 30,000 Emails” 

See also 

Marika Säisä 

Project manager of DigiReactor 

Turku University of Applied Sciences