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A Day In The Life: Lindsay Stephens, Lead Service Designer, DWP Digital

Ever wondered what it's like to work at one of Greater Manchester's leading tech employers or what specific job roles get up to each day?

Lindsay Stephens is a Lead Service Designer at DWP Digital.

We spoke to her to find out more about this role, her experience at DWP Digital and what an average day looks like.

Name: Lindsay Stephens
Company: DWP Digital
Job Title: Lead Service Designer
Time in role: 6 months

How did you get into your current role?

I’m a Lead Service Designer in the User-Centred Design Practice. I applied for my role on an internal promotion six months ago, having worked at DWP for three and a half years. I was previously a Senior Service Designer leading a User Experience team in Technology Services. Prior to that I worked for a long time as a Consultant for IBM iX, for lots of government clients including DWP. 

What do you enjoy most about working at DWP Digital?

I love working with talented, intelligent and kind colleagues who are all motivated by helping vulnerable people in our society. The work we do can be challenging, but there are opportunities to learn new skills and find out new things on a daily basis so it’s always interesting on a professional level. From a personal perspective, I really appreciate the flexible working benefits and the impact that has on my work-life balance.  

What does a typical day look like for you?

At home I live with my partner, six year old son and three cats… so my day starts early as soon as one of them wakes – usually around 6am. My son and I have breakfast together, get ready, then my partner and I alternate school drop-off. I work in a hybrid way, so some days I work from home and others in the office. I commute via tram to DWP Digital’s Manchester office in St Peter’s Square, and use any commuting time to read Twitter, articles and blogs or news. 

I start my working day around 8:30am by checking my inbox and calendar. I work on a wide variety of things, so no two days are the same! I collaborate regularly with three colleagues, including DWP’s Head of Service Design, so we often start the day with a team meeting to keep in touch with progress on various projects. 

One of my main responsibilities is our Service Design Framework, which has been developed to help DWP focus the design of services around users, and improve the maturity of the service design practice. My role involves meeting with stakeholders from all over the department, explaining more about service design, our methods, the framework and our recommendations as well as working with various business areas to start experiments to test our hypotheses (assumptions). 

I regularly facilitate workshops and use whiteboard tools such as Mural to enable a group of people to understand and define problems, as well as develop and refine ideas to solve them. We often produce visual representations of artefacts which support the design of services like user journeys, blueprints and prototypes.

I also work closely with our practice of Service Designers to map and develop skills within the community, offer training, support, run community meetings and lead recruitment campaigns. 

I am on DWP’s Women in Digital Steering Committee, so regularly facilitate meetings with the network such as a recent fireside chat with one of our Directors, Cheryl Stevens. I’m passionate about women and girls feeling confident to develop careers in digital / STEM roles and represent the society we serve at DWP. 

I finish my working day sometime between 5pm and 6pm, depending on my workload. After that I often run around taking my son to an after-school activity, and cooking dinner for the family. I have a long-term kidney condition and low kidney function, which means I have to eat a specialised diet (low potassium, phosphate, protein and salt) and limit my fluid intake – it can make for some interesting recipes! 

On some evenings I get out to a yoga or dance fit class, but others are about putting my son to bed and flopping in front of the TV! 

What is it like starting a new job /working remotely during the pandemic?

I was already working at DWP Digital when the pandemic began, but had several new team members who started work during that time. It was a challenge to support them and bring them into a new team working remotely with people they had never met before. 

We focused on making people feel welcome, inviting new colleagues to group chats and sharing photos of ourselves, children, pets and even doing fancy dress photo challenges after work in the early days of full lockdown. We had daily stand-up calls which were work focused, but included a ‘random question of the day’ in the last five minutes. I think we learned more about each other during those calls than in the 18 months before lockdown! 

Personally, I found things really difficult trying to juggle work and home-schooling. My partner also works in a large government digital organisation, so we agreed to do ‘shift’ work and switch parent time with taking work calls. I really missed the camaraderie of being with colleagues in the office. I’m grateful now of the opportunity to work in a hybrid way, as it gives us the best of both worlds.  

What excites you the most about the work a DWP Digital?

The complexity of the work we do a DWP Digital is really challenging, and that’s what makes it exciting for me. It’s transformative for people in our society, and as a Service Designer, I am excited about connecting our user-centred digital services with others doing great work across DWP to provide better holistic experiences for our customers. 

Have you learned anything new since you started?

I learn new things every day! Technology is changing at such a fast pace that no-one can know it all, and your ability to learn on the job is more important than any knowledge you may already have. 

Thank you Lindsay!

To find out more about DWP Digital, click here.

DWP Digital are looking for a Senior Service Designer. View the role and apply here.

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