Following the Government’s recent announcement that we must all work from home if we can during the next lockdown, STEAMhouse bureau will have limited technical support after Wednesday 4 November 2020.
Universities are to remain open during this next lockdown so we will continue to provide services to members. However, to further minimise contact throughout the lockdown period the technical team will apply greater flexibility on the days they’re working in the workshop and from home – only coming into the workshop to undertake specific tasks to support members on a limited and infrequent basis. This might mean that things take slightly longer than expected.
There is no change to any of the other services currently on offer, with a range of events, workshops, and remote technical support available online.
We continue to monitor Government and University guidance and advice and we will inform you if there are any further changes.
Currently we are planning to revert back to the temporary bureau service schedule from Thursday 3 December 2020 subject to any announcement of possible new restrictions.
How to collaborate online using virtual workshop techniques
“The techniques that STEAMhouse guided us through enabled some great insights we had not imagined and ideas and solutions came about through a highly collaborative, interactive, and creative approach – all online! I highly recommend anyone to engage in the STEAM Challenge process. You won’t regret it!” Richard Haynes, Innovation Manager, Walsall Housing Group
Typically a STEAM Challenge is a one or two day workshop designed to enable organisations and individuals from across disciplines to tackle product, service, or social challenges, and test new ideas through a design-thinking innovation process. We guide participants through a series of creative activities that help them get under the skin of the problem they’re trying to solve, generate new ideas to tackle the problem and begin to test those ideas with lightweight prototypes. Think mapping, sketching, analysing, and making – not the easiest thing to replicate when we’re all stuck at home! Thankfully our latest STEAM Challenge provided the perfect opportunity to dive in and create our first series of virtual collaborative workshops.
Finding the right format
Platforms like G-Suite, Slack, Teams, and Zoom are changing the way we work together but they were designed to complement, rather than replicate face-to-face collaboration. When people come together they get things done, learn and have fun. Collaboration turbo-boosts complex problem solving and it enables a variety of practitioners to coordinate their work and share valuable learning – this kind of cross-pollination is essential to STEAM innovation and here’s how we made it happen 100% online:
We never went over two hours – Working online is exhausting, even more so when you’re problem solving, keep workshop timing tight and make the work purposeful.
We kept participant numbers low – Go for no more than 16 people online at any given time. For collaboration to work, conversation is key – imagine giving each person two minutes to speak for every exercise, the minutes add up and eat into your precious two hours together!
We used a ‘digital wallspace’ – We went for Miro but there’s plenty out there (Mural’s great too), just try to find a platform that’s intuitive and accessible for all participants, you’ll need to spend time training everyone up first. Our tip would be to go for the one that best replicates the experience of pinning and sorting stuff on a wallspace in a workshop environment.
We were militant about timings, timings, timings – Go for 30-minute group exercises, keep participants on their toes, and build in competition to keep things exciting. Do what you can to keep people engaged and energised. Like any workshop, collaboration works best when people are comfortable and enjoying themselves.
Create your ‘Zorms’ – These are your rules of engagement, best outlined upfront. You might want to ask people to turn off unnecessary notifications, ensure they keep their cameras switched on, or just remind everyone to keep loaded up with drinks and snacks. One of our Zorms was ‘Some things will work, Some things won’t’, it’s important to recognise that working online is still a bit weird and things can always go wrong. Once everyone understands your ‘Zorms’, you’re good to go!
Convening for creative collision
One advantage of having to keep participant numbers low is that you can be a little more selective about the voices required in the ‘room’ to make it a meaningful exercise. Now more than ever, we’re all a bit exhausted with screen-time, so aim to put people’s talents, time and energy to their best use. At STEAMhouse, a diversity of perspectives is crucial to creative problem solving, but remember you’re collaborating, not facilitating a discussion forum, so try to design a bit of creative collision into your activities, this can often be a really powerful way to generate new ideas.
Getting the activities right
Each of our 2-hr sessions followed a similar structure – we started light and gradually built to more challenging, collaborative work as we progressed.
Ice-breakers are always a great way to kick-off any workshop (as long as they’re designed well), we used ours as an opportunity to iron out any tech issues and remind participants of how to use the Miro tools, in a fun way. My favourite was ‘Superhero Hellos’ – we asked participants to draw their superhero alter-ego to introduce themselves and describe the skills and expertise they’re bringing to the workshop – it was perfect no-pressure fun because everyone’s bad at drawing in Miro!
We worked on no more than 4 exercises per session, with the 3rd being where we spent most time as a group, this left the final exercise for reflection and ‘cool-down’. Every workshop is different and you’ll design your activities to suit but we learned a few things that might be helpful to you for your first virtual workshop:
Aesthetics are important, make your participants feel like they’ve landed in a place that’s been considered – treat the design of your worksheets and assets as well as you would in the real world, by doing so you’ll avoid visual clutter and participants will feel cared for.
Ask participants to do just one thing per exercise and keep each exercise on it’s own canvas, make it purposeful.
Label workspaces clearly so people know where they need to be on the screen and write instructions next to their workspace, inevitably some people won’t be listening when you instruct them what to do next.
Lock any content you don’t want participants to move around, it’s all too easy to click on stuff and delete it if you’re just getting used to the software.
Assign an instructor and a facilitator, the instructor is there to answer questions and keep things on track. At the same time the facilitator is tidying up and checking in on participants work to ensure they’ve understood what they need to do.
Finally, and most importantly, build in some fun elements, we created digital prizes, dropped in videos and created ‘rooms’ – whatever you can think of is pretty much possible in a virtual space – get creative!
Start your own STEAM Challenge!
If you or your organisation have a critical business or social challenge that you’d like to tackle fast with the support of STEAMhouse, get in touch to find out how we can support.
The Launch of the Phase 1.5 STEAMhouse Grants will be live from Wednesday 30th September for STEAMhouse Members.
When is the deadline?
The first deadline will be on Wednesday 21st October at 12noon. Future Grant dates will be announced via the website www.steamhouse.org.uk/blog
Who can apply?
Anyone who has registered with STEAMhouse as a sole trader or business (no match funding is required as a condition), received notification of their membership from one of the STEAMhouse team and has completed their 12 hours assist with STEAMhouse to support you in developing your product/service.
How much is the grant for?
The Grant amount is for £2,500 broken down into £1,035 for Commercialisation and Intellectual Property (IP) support (which is compulsory and helps to inform the next stage and utilisation of the grant) with the remaining £1,465 (including VAT) being used to support businesses developing their prototypes, proving concept to early-stage development work and demonstrating which element of this is using digital technology.
How many Grants are available?
32 Grants will be distributed up to May 2022.
How do I claim any reimbursement of funds spent, if successful?
A new contract will be issued for you to sign and return to email@example.com along with the following documentation to set you up as a new supplier by BCU, namely:-
1) Yourletter headed paper with your company bank details/ including company number/UTR and contact details all the letter headed paper.
2) Certificate of Public Liability Insurance.
Once you receive confirmation that you have been set-up as a supplier, you can then start spending. Upon evidence of receipts, the completed receipt submission form, redacted bank statements and the submission of your invoice, STEAMhouse will arrange the reimbursement of £1,674 in total. Invoices can be broken down into one or three separate invoice payments from you, within a 5-month period from the start of the contract.
How do I know what IP support I will need?
There is a variety of free Commercialisation and IP support available through STEAMhouse Phase 1.5 including guidance & Innovation capture, market assessments etc. The best route for you will be determined following an arranged meeting with the appointed IP consultant to support you.
Is there another round of funding?
Yes, there will be further grant announcements on a 5-month cycle approximately. Further announcements will be made via the website.
What Next? Please download and complete the attached funding forms or contact Sophia Tarr, Business Engagement Manager for further information.
It’s been an amazing and rare opportunity to have been able to be part of something like this from so early on. I can remember how excited we all were to go down to site for the first time before the refurbishment started on the Digbeth site. To be able to be a part of transforming the empty rooms into functioning workshops and then seeing them filled with makers and machinery on our opening day was a brilliant experience.
2. THE awards
I was fortunate enough to attend THE (Times Higher Education) awards last year as STEAMhouse was shortlisted for the Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative award. As with all STEAMteam nights out, it was a great evening and, although we didn’t win, it was nice to see the work within STEAM that we’ve started is already getting recognition.
3. STEAMhouse bureau.
2020 has been absolutely crazy. We’ve closed off Phase 1, launched Phase 1.5, hired new team members, experienced the COVID-19 fallout, worked from home, returned to site, been flooded out, found a new space and are about to lunch a bureau service as well as mailable kits for our members. I couldn’t be more proud of the technical team, holding it together in the face of all these challenges. From learning new skills to coming up with genius solutions to the challenges of remote working, making and collaboration in our new reality. The team have worked so hard getting everything ready and there are some really exciting things launching for STEAMhouse members really soon.
Overall, it’s been an incredible three years filled with challenges – or learning opportunities, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of the STEAMhouse family. I’m super excited to be able to watch the STEAMhouse Phase 2 site evolve over the next year, I’ll be able to keep tabs on it from Parkside (part of the City Centre Campus at Birmingham City University) where And I’ll definitely join the team for a big celebration for the launch of Phase 2!
While the uncertainty arising from the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened matters, mental health has been a long-standing issue for business across the globe.
We have come up with a few ways to enhance mental health support in the workplace space and within your team.
1.) Be creative with your mental health support
Your business will be facing numerous challenges over the next few months and it’s easy to get caught up in the uncertainty.
Try to lift spirits by being creative. Arrange video meetings where people can voice any concerns they have, or set up a webpage where employees/ community can anonymously share thoughts and queries.
There are a number of tools out there that can help you get creative with your support.
2.)Don’t forget to take care of yourself
As your business comes out of lockdown, you might be feeling the stresses of getting in new business, updating various procedures, and ensuring you are adhering to the required health and safety measures…all of which can affect your own mental health.
Set a standard for the employees you work with by how you approach self-care. Ensure you take time to rest and refresh, enabling your workforce to do the same.
3.)Train yourself or your community
Managing and supporting mental health at work will be considerably easier if you have designated community members can help , find out who that is within your community/ work-place. Alternatively, visit websites like NHS for support or to learn how to support others. You should then begin to notice a healthier, more positive attitude towards mental wellbeing across your community.
If you’re business is in a position train staff, Birmingham MIND offers workplace wellness training sessions designed to help employees notice and assist with mental health issues. Managing and supporting mental health at work will be considerably easier if you have designated staff members that can help.
4.)Reassure your community
Employees across the country remain scared and uncertain as to what the future holds for them – according to SME Web, seven in ten furloughed workers fear they won’t have a job next year.
Communicate regularly and clearly with your team, whether it be general updates about your business, challenges relating to COVID-19, or the health and safety measures you plan to introduce.
Regular contact will go some way to ease the fears your community/ team may have during these unpredictable times.
5.)Address the topic of mental health directly
Don’t be afraid to be upfront about mental health support in the workplace – the only way to make a difference in your business is to make the change yourself.
Make sure that your team are aware that you’re here to support them during this transitional period.
6.)Take into consideration different backgrounds
In your COVID-19 communications, make sure you consider factors that might be affecting different groups of people across your team.
You may have elderly workers, or employees who are caring for elderly members of their family, who may be anxious about returning to work and/or the health and safety protocols within the workplace.
Conversely, you may have staff members that live alone and – whether they’ve been working remotely or furloughed – may be feeling extremely isolated and withdrawn, and in need of support to reintegrate.
7.)Be sensitive and considerate
Mental health has been a taboo subject for a long time, especially in a workplace environment, and there will inevitably be people who feel uncomfortable or awkward discussing such matters.
Whether you are approaching a team member concerned about their job or comforting a business owner who may be going through a personal crisis, ensure you converse with them in a sensitive, measured and tactful manner.
8.)Make your employees aware of mental health support in the workplace…and beyond
Improving mental health support will make a big difference to your employees’ morale and to your business – a 2019 World Health Organisation study estimated that depression and anxiety cost the world’s economy about $1 trillion each in year in lost productivity.
You can improve mental health support for your community by signposting them to where they can receive help.
Further afield, there are a number of mental health charities in the West Midlands that can provide help and guidance. Along with Birmingham MIND, Forward Thinking Birmingham and The Waiting Room offer expert mental health support.
You can also learn more about your rights as an employee should you wish to discover more about statutory sick pay/flexible working, in this free guide from Manak Solicitors.
LinkedIn boasts over 660 million users in more than 200 countries and territories across the globe (LinkedIn, 2019). As a professional network, LinkedIn is popular not only among job seekers but also businesses, with more than 30 million companies listed on the platform (LinkedIn, 2019). Of all the social media sites, LinkedIn is the second-most popular platform among B2B marketers, just behind Facebook (Social Media Examiner, 2019).
LinkedIn has a well-deserved reputation as a professional network for business owners and professionals, but many users are not taking advantage of all that LinkedIn has to offer. Like most networking platforms, it can be a quick and easy way to network with business and communities! Additionally, through building a good LinkedIn profile, you can also connect to new opportunities.
Here are 5 tips to help you build a LinkedIn profile:
1. A goal
It is very important to have a set of goals in mind. Are you looking for a new collaboration opportunity or looking to build your recognition as a thought leader in your industry or are you looking to expand your business network? Whatever that goal is, make sure that you have it clear in your mind before you start. When building your profile, everything that you do ,should it be aligned to your goal.
2. Catchy Headline
Your headline is one of the first things that people see when they come across your profile, thus it is one of the most important features. You want to make sure that your headline distinguishes you, but also relates back to your original goal. With over 660 million users you need to stand out. Your LinkedIn headline is a great way to do this. Our recommended formula for creating an outstanding headline is: Job title or target job title, your specialization or career goal and passion. Here is an example;
Founder of (Business name) / Entrepreneur and Maker / Global advocate for….
Your headline was the starter and your summary is the main course. A summary helps you further break down the objectives of your profile. This is a chance for you to elaborate on your professional experience, your key skills and achievements, and ultimately why you are passionate about the work that you do or the work you would like to get into. When you are writing your summary, you can think of the following questions:
What do you do and what do you want people to know about you?
What have you achieved or accomplished?
How do you do what you do?
Why do you do it or why are you interested in that career or industry?
You want to use a combination of paragraphs and bulleted lists to break out your text and to add more depth. Think of this as telling your story, so keep it conversational. Write like you speak. You want to optimize your profile with as many keywords related to your career or your industry as possible. Remember that keywords really helped to make your profile stand out and rank in the searches.
4. Reflect Your CV
Your LinkedIn profile can be considered as your virtual or online CV. Therefore, is important that you include your work history or your past work experience, education, your accomplishments, any projects that you’ve worked on, key skills and also recommendations that you’ve received. Recommendations are a great way to reflect your character. So feel free to reach out to people you have worked with and ask them for recommendations. They will really help to enhance your profile.
5. Call to Action
A call to action is a great way to bring your entire profile together. Place a Call to Action at the end of your Summary or About section. This call to action is telling people what action steps you want them to take after viewing your profile. Here are some examples of great call to actions:
“If you are looking to create an app for your business, Let’s get in touch.”
“Connect with me if you want to chat about my new project”
“Check out my website bellow for a gallery of my work”
Headshot and cover image: If you include a headshot and a cover image, you are more likely to appear in searches in the LinkedIn platform. So most definitely make sure that you have a headshot that shows your personality (smile!), has good lighting, and a plain background.
Connections: Make sure that you build your connections by connecting first with people that you know, people that are in your immediate circle and then branching out.
Keywords: Keywords are key! Use career-centered industry-driven keywords throughout your profile to be found by people in your industry.
We hope these few simple tips will help you make the most of you’re Linkedin Profile.
STEAMhouse Specialists Blog: Immersive Media with Poppy Wilde
In this blog we’re discussing immersive media; how it’s changing media, what this means for STEAMhouse and our businesses. We caught up with Dr Poppy Wilde, Lecturer in Media and Communications at Birmingham City University and an active researcher in the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research.
Hi Poppy, thank you for joining us. So, what are the benefits of virtual space over physical space?
It’s an excellent question and there’s a variety of ways to answer it.
Some of the easy kind of wins within virtual space are that you can make things accessible to audiences that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. I mean both in terms of accessibility with clients or customers who may have disabilities or issues that impact their ability to enter physical spaces in your environment. But also, in terms of being able to have a wider reach.
What exactly is immersive media?
When we say immersive media, what we are really talking about is more of a sensorial catchment .Whether that’s your visuals/ sound all around, there may be extra things coming into the picture or coming into play with you that previous media may not have incorporated. For example, with virtual reality, you can put on a headset, and you can enter that whole space. If you’re thinking about 360 videos similarly, you can kind of look all around you, and you are in that world with binaural sound. And so, it’s about creating a more sort of three-dimensional experience.
Does that mean that people will no longer be consuming media in the physical space, is it going out of fashion?
I think that based on the fact that we still read novels. We still listen to the radio. We still watch TV. Even though we have advances in films, in gaming, in new technologies. For me, I don’t think that our old media will ever be completely dismissed. I don’t think we’ll ever stop using them. I believe that over the past decades of media consumption, the fashions and trends will change.
I don’t believe that immersive media represents a complete threat to our traditional forms of media. I think it adds a new lens and enhances specific experiences. There is something to be said there about the spreading your audience more thinly across different mediums, but that’s why a lot of artists, businesses and services now try to incorporate more transmedia storytelling. Additionally, advertising/campaigning, where the different bits of that story/ message is put in the various mediums; so, the audience chooses how to access it. The more different bits you piece together, the more of the world you might see. But still, you can consume the area that fits your preferences, your taste and your interests.
Will my customer or community still be able to connect with my brand through immersive Media or VR?
That is something that depends on what you’re trying to do, who you’re trying to connect with and whether it’s the right medium. VR or immersive media is not going to revolutionise your business suddenly. You can use immersive media badly. You can have virtual reality experiences that are gimmicky and not very effective. You can have 360 videos with no kind of sense at all. What is this bringing? What does this enhance? So that’s why I say, it’s about thinking; what can you do? There are certain things that in virtual reality that you can do: pitch your business in a much more interactive way. If you’re a start-up or you’re working on prototypes then being able to make a model of those things in virtual reality or mop-up a 360 environment. Then that could give people your vision.
Similarly, if you want to have a much more interactive relationship with your clients using things like augmented reality can enhance that. We see that businesses have now moved away from a model where they kind of push their content and consumers to consume it. In the age of social media, we already have much more interaction with our audiences, and so immersive media can harness that and enhance it to create more interactive relationships.
What’s your role withinSTEAMhouse?
My role within STEAMhouse is as an academic coordinator for the faculty of Arts design and media. What I’ll be doing with STEAMhouse over the next couple of years is I will connect with businesses who might want to talk about how they can utilise immersive media. They might want to mind map ideas and have some input on that. They might want to talk about the more research aspects of that in terms of my specialisms in embodiments and effect, thinking about their embodied experiences in virtual or physical environments. Also, I run some workshops, so far, we’ve done one on an introduction to immersive media. So hopefully, I will be able to have enjoyable and insightful conversations with any STEAMhouse members. STEAMhouse members who I’ve already connected with have all got fascinating ideas, and it’s an absolute privilege to discuss those with them!
STEAMhouse Specialists: Immersive Media with Poppy Wilde
In this video we’re discussing Immersive Media; how it’s changing media and what this means for STEAMhouse and our business community.
We hope this video gave you an insight into what Immersive Media is and how you can use it to communicate with your audience! If you have any questions or would like to discuss this topic further, contact us on our platforms!