As a university placement student at PDD, this is the first time I’ve had to commute to work. When possible I cycle the 9 miles from my flat to the office but sometimes there’s no avoiding it. Personally, I’ve never seen the appeal of a stuffy, tube commute – crammed like sardines in a tin with a friendly armpit in your face. However, I’ve recently been thinking that maybe there’s more potential than meets the eye. If we are willing to take a deep breath, step into the unknown and talk to the person standing next us on the tube.
I grew up in the countryside. I’m used to green fields and fresh air, not London. Where I come from you get a ‘Hello’, a cheery ‘Good morning!’ or at the very least a smile when you pass someone in the street. You may not know them and they may not know you, but that doesn’t matter. In London, just saying ‘Thank you’ to the bus driver is enough to turn heads. Here, we travel around in our own little bubbles, separated by a set of headphones and a mobile phone.
However, the sheer volume, variety and talent of those travelling on our tube network could open up some great opportunities. Say for example, you’re working on a project and are looking for a graphic designer. He or she could be standing right next to you every morning but you’d never know because… Well, why would you ask? I admit the chances are very slim but it’s not impossible. Facebook and twitter are far more likely to gain a person’s attention than the individual standing next to them. But this very focus on social media and our phones could also offer an answer.
For example, imagine an app which enables you to recognise the people standing near you on the tube. The app displays a profile of each person with very basic information: name, profession and a picture. It could also display a link to their website or Linkedin account. You now know their name and what they do which could be enough to start a professional conversation. Both parties would need to have installed the app and agree to share their information beforehand, but after that it’s free personal advertising.
I’m not suggesting you should start interrogating everyone you meet on your commute to work because that would be a bit weird. Without us realising, advances in technology have sometimes put up certain barriers along the way, but maybe that same technology could help to take them down again and start a good-old fashioned conversation.
Posted by PDD
Languages spoken: Global.
The last thing that inspired me: Design and Innovation.
My dream project: A project that makes a difference in the world.
My obsession: Develop successful, award-winning and world-first products and experiences.