Our Design Sprints

What if? Let's Find Out.


The ways in which we work today - weekends off, 8-hour shifts, overtime, employer-based health care - were structures fought for and imagined by workers from over 100 years ago. We need new solutions for 21st century work and modern workers.

Design sprints are "for anyone with a big opportunity, problem, or idea who needs to get answers now," explains Google designer Jake Knapp in his book, Sprint. At The Workers Lab, we make this Silicon Valley process our own. Once a year, we lead Design Sprints to explore ideas that can impact workers and the future of work.

Read about our most recent Design Sprint below.


We’ve adapted Google's Design Sprint methodology - an intensive, time-bound approach to solve problems that reduces risk when bringing a new product to market - in order to:

  • Understand the problem and existing solutions
  • Ideate a set of solutions
  • Decide on a solution
  • Prototype and Validate a Minimal Viable Product (MVP)
  • Pilot the solution with upwards of 500 workers and evaluate its impact


We tackled the issue of worker income volatility in 2017 with a Design Sprint focused on getting emergency cash to workers.

“What if,” we asked, “workers had $1,000 available - no strings attached  when they needed it for unexpected expenses?” 

In what we called our “Design Sprint for Social Change,” we partnered with thought leaders across the fields of financial inclusion, product innovation, and labor and employment policy to design and test an emergency cash delivery pilot.

Our team included:

  • A pilot design & implementation lead: Commonwealth, an organization building solutions to financial challenges faced by financially vulnerable people
  • A lead product advisor: Rachel Schneider, consumer finance and economics expert, co-author of The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty
  • A lead policy & research advisor: David Weil, Ph.D., employment and labor market policy expert, Dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

Our goal: to gather evidence about how a cash benefit like this one could and would work best - for workers, employers, technology platforms and government.

Learn more about how to get cash to workers >


Led by our partner, Commonwealth, we have to date:

  • Conducted multiple rounds of rapid prototyping to better understand the viability of the emergency cash benefit; and
  • Executed a Pre-Pilot test of the cash benefit website with 29 users to refine the marketing and technology (read the pre-pilot findings here); and
  • Launched a full-scale pilot of The Workers Strength Fund in Summer 2019 - the largest ever test on cash transfers to gig workers.

For this pilot, we provided $1,000 cash grants to 350 lower-income gig workers in the Summer and Fall of 2019. The results of the pilot will be published in May 2020.

Stay tuned for updates!