Our first full year of running as Square Culture

2020 has been a trying year for all of us around the world in ways we didn’t expect. The methods of measuring success as the year draws to an end is subsequently different. Having started our business in the autumn of 2019, we knew that our first year was going to be a challenge. But what an exciting challenge it turned out to be. By weathering the maelstrom of 2020, we’ve decided to take a look back at these past twelve months fondly and look to the next year with a fresh perspective. More than ever are we inspired by the research we’ve been conducting. More than ever has our understanding of work changed. And so, more than ever have we grown as individuals and a business.

Reflections on what we’ve been able to do

In the first two months before the pandemic, we were able to really sink our teeth into some great international projects. During this work we were able to travel across Sweden and perform some in-person qualitative research methods. This was a brilliant opportunity for us to remind ourselves of the importance of our human-centred approach. We honed our skills, learnt a lot about ourselves, and delivered work to our clients that we remain to be proud of. The opportunity to do things live allowed us to also participate in some events such as the Women in Entrepreneurship Breakfast with Malmö Startups. Our co-founders spoke at the event and posed the question of how to overcome a challenge the guests were currently facing. We wonder now how these brilliant women have overcome the challenge of 2020.

With the spring came the start of the pandemic, and we were pleased to be able to explore new digital opportunities, even if Sweden didn’t undergo a lockdown like many other places. We hosted our first digital event in which our co-founder, Manuela, presented ways of understanding and working with uncertainty. Given the circumstances, it was an apt discussion and we found that our interest came from various places overseas. Our guests participated with energy and we were pleased to see how well received the seminar was. This kind of work helped us in presenting to current students at Lund University on how to approach the workforce after receiving a masters degree in applied cultural analysis. It was lovely to see the potential in these students and helped us to remember the position we were in last year as graduates from the same programme.

In summer, we were able to consolidate our moving into the digital realm with a whole new understanding of online content creation. This transition period helped us to understand the links between digital living and the online potential for our company. Throughout this time, we have been working hard to create relevant content for our digital channels. To date we have now published sixteen articles in our Corona Chronicles series. This blog series has allowed us to explore our ongoing research surrounding the pandemic with the appropriate tools to disseminate qualitative expressions of new habits. Alongside this we have also been learning new ways of sharing our work via Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn which has allowed us to build up a solid online presence. It’s been a perfect time for us to bridge the gaps between human-centred research and design, something we can now integrate fully into our work.

Here in Skåne, Sweden, we are lucky to be within reach of some top universities. As autumn came, so too did the students returning to their studies. This year, one of our co-founders, Sahra, was able to take on two student mentees from the applied cultural analysis programme at Lund University. With this position, Sahra has been able to share our collective knowledge about the applicable and business aspect of doing cultural analysis. The two students have also been conducting some cutting-edge research which has helped us to understand new international perspectives surrounding the global situation of COVID-19. Building these links with the university has been a wonderful opportunity to connect with a wider network of peers. It has been an eye-opening experience to get fresh insights for a company through our student collaborators.

Winter provides us the perfect time to think back on all that we have achieved so far. We’ve been able to manage all that we’ve mentioned above whilst also continuing to conduct market research projects for a wide range of clients. We’re grateful for Minc in Malmö with whom we’ve been collaborating with for open desk sessions which allows us to connect with new startups and advise on research needs. We’re grateful to all our clients who have believed in the importance of our work. And ultimately, we are grateful to our team for standing together during this hard time and working tirelessly to achieve all that we’ve been able to do.

And the Square Culture family is growing!

With our four co-founders in place, we’ve also been lucky enough to take on Matthew Short, our creative strategist, to help devise our online and creative strategies. We’re keen to constantly develop and use creative thinking as a part of our approach, so this was a match we’ve been very happy with.

And excitingly, one of our co-founders, Manuela, has been on maternity leave for the second half of the year. This autumn she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. We’re so proud of Manuela’s strength as a woman entrepreneur and now mother. It’s been a pleasure to see photos of her child and we look forward to seeing him grow up as an honorary Square Culture teammate!

For now, our team is ready to take their winter break. Square Culture will be closed for business from the 18th December until the 11th January. During this time we’ll be working on plans for the year 2021, and here’s a little peek into what we hope to achieve during the coming new year…

 

We look forward to welcoming in the new year with you. Let’s raise a glass of our choice of drink, and start 2021 in the best way possible.

Until then, have a happy holiday.

 

Best wishes,

The Square Culture Team