Creative Industry Report: Normally

‘Normally’ is a data product and service design studio based in London. The tight-knit team of experienced interaction designers construct captivating user experiences, products and services. Their mission is to investigate the meaning, value and usage of data as a design material. I address their work culture and its impacts on gender inclusivity, and their research philosophy in this report.

Normally has cultivated an admirable work culture through two radical strategies. The first is a four-day work-week. Initially, with the antecedent five-day work-week, designers were producing unnecessary work and were in the office needlessly. After the revision, there was a marked improvement in efficiency, employee retention, quality of work and home lives. The second strategy is that salaries are calculated purely on an algorithm that functions on account experience, resulting in greater transparency.

These two strategies address the gender imbalance inherent in design. The first strategy combats the perception that long hours are essential to working at a design agency. Founder Marei Wolfersberger believes that such expectations often affect women disproportionately due to prevailing gender roles (i.e. looking after children). The shortened work-week allows women to tackle such responsibilities and equalize their progress up the career ladder.

The salary algorithm combats the gender wage gap. The former traditional process was based on past-salaries, and the founders realized that women and introverts asked for lesser in comparison to men. Recognizing the need to remove the management bias in salary negotiation, the algorithm negates the influence of the intersections of gender, extroversion and likeability.

Lastly, I applaud the research Normally conducts in regards to their mission, focusing on sustainability and data. Studio projects such as “Cabin Analytics” measure and make accessible the environmental impact of digital services, proposing how services like Instagram could make design decisions that dramatically reduce its carbon cost. Normally’s commitment to a healthy environment, both internally through continual innovation, and externally, through philosophy, is clear.

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