To discover opportunities for a product pivot or complementary service.
As a user researcher and strategist, I seek to solve problems by envisioning innovative products, programs, and processes that truly empower people. I always develop strategy by first developing a deep understanding of a specific problem, the people it affects, and the environments in which the problem exists. In my own work, I have been especially motivated and inspired to provide support to working women.
I have undertaken several projects to research the needs of working mothers. One project resulted in the establishment of "cNanny" an online platform that facilitated the establishment of trust and ease of interaction and contractual negotiations between parents and qualified nannies.
To learn about the challenges faced by working mothers on organizing and scheduling childcare, activities and school and explore how they meet the various child-related demands on their time.
Working mothers who are employed full-time or own and operate a business 35 or more hours per week.
Six interviewees were recruited through two Facebook Groups.
Interview questions explored household make-up, childcare arrangements, children’s activities, how women balance their careers with childcare responsibilities, and the support networks, tools, and strategies they employ to assist them. Below are some of the questions that were probed for in the 30 – 60 minute interviews:
How did you manage your job / career to enable yourself to meet the childcare, school and activity needs of your children? Do you rely on other support, such as a husband, nanny, children’s grandparents, other relatives? Who helps?
Can you tell me about a typical day with juggling work and childcare, school and activities? Like step-by-step
When you are scheduling birthdays or play dates, what’s the method of communication or reminder for that?
What are the constraints and challenges you face in managing these needs of your children?
What are some hacks you use which you found better enable you to meet these demands/needs?
After transcribing the interviews, they were analyzed through affinity mapping.
Synthesis and Notes
Below are extracts from the synthesis I performed and select notes.
Demographics and Work/Life Balance
Care Arrangements Key:
FT Nanny / some help in equal parts from mother, mother-in-law, and sister
Mom lives 2 hours away, rarely able to provide care assistance
Supportive neighbors, children are older and she reports they are primarily self-sufficient
Mother provides 12 hours or more of care per week, also some daily assistance from brother < 1
Relies heavily on care support from mother, also ex provides childcare pick-up and drop-off assistance 4 times per week, sometimes get help from ex’s mother
Teenage children take care of younger sister while mom works, occasionally gets help from a friend
Intersection of Challenges
The yellow boxes are results or consequences of these challenges.
Working moms employ a variety of strategies to help them manage the demands on their time. These strategies include planning the week out in advance with their families, prepping and weekly batch cooking of meals, and maintaining a stock of bulk goods at home that are ordered online and home delivered. They also depend on partnerships with others, from hiring nannies to participating in school carpools. Digital support through text messaging, calendar and reminder apps are heavily relied upon by working moms, but some also keep printed schedules and calendars posted in a centrally visible location of the home, such as on the refrigerator.
Sometimes a story is the best method for cultivating empathy among designers and developers for end users. I often focus on writing stories for users who would benefit the most from innovations. The users profiled in my stories may only represent 20% percent of the user population; however, meeting their needs will satisfy the needs of 80% - 90% of users in the targeted market.
All participants made career/job choices to accommodate family needs.
Work and family life are equal priorities for working moms.
Single moms and married moms with fixed work schedules who lack family support sacrifice sleep and family time to manage work/family life.
There is a monetary tradeoff with work flexibility – Jobs which allow women to fully set their own hours and work part-time often provides lower pay and are coupled with irregular & weekend work hours.
Average weekly time spent on children’s activities is 6 hours, with more hours spent on irregular activities, such as play dates and birthday parties.
Strength of support network is determined by both availability and number of members in it.
Product Recommendation of a Back-up Care App Service which incorporates:
Google/iPhone calendar of family and support network members,
Reservations/scheduling of care function, and
Enables parents to expand their network, such as neighbors willing to care (perhaps for nominal pay for a specified short-term period of time – this would also mean including a geo-location functionality and payment functionality).
Long-term road-mapping would add a planning capability/feature for parents to see calendar openings of connected friends/family members and permit them to propose and easily plan for play dates, weekend events, etc.