Ans and Gera help with a flawless fall clear out

Some employees fall silent for a moment when Ans and Gera enter their office on Monday morning. This week these two spritely ladies, bosom friends from Eindhoven, are visiting the TU/e services and entities relocating to Atlas in the New Year, and are helping staff with the major clear out preceding the move. Standing in the hallway are large trash cans ready for use in Operation Whirlwind.

Today, Ans Jonkers and Gera Roossen (Rolf and Bram for close friends, both active members of student drama  association Doppio) are keeping two lists: what are people taking with them to Atlas? And what are they leaving behind? The answers they receive are varied - and depend a little on how open to humor employees are feeling at the start of their working week.

Folders, the furniture, old manuals (“You can Google anything,” say Ans and Gera reassuringly.), as well as colleagues are among the items that will soon be gladly left behind in Traverse. The main things being taken to Atlas: laptops, tea thermos flasks (“Not allowed, but we're taking it anyway,” says an employee adamantly.), plants (ditto) and “a chocolate fountain”. Whoever is to thank for the last item ending up on Ans's list we've no idea, but the message is clear: candy is a must, whatever the work floor.

Marleen van Ool, working in Financial and Economic Affairs, is enjoying the unexpected visit on this Monday morning - although the two old grannies don't have anything new to tell her. “We know what needs to happen but still have a lot to do. And there are things you simply can't tidy away because you need them every day.”

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Ans and Gera visiting DFEZ director Ruud van de Donk

Ans and Gera help clear out

Ans and Gera visiting DFEZ director Ruud van de Donk

Second life

Roommate Saira Bondhla's main hope is that once the spirit to have a good clear out really takes hold, everything isn't thrown out indiscriminately. At secretariats of other departments she has already spotted corners where items that deserve a second life somewhere else are being gathered together. Whether these are empty folders or post trays: “People with school-aged children, community centers or charities might be very glad of them,” thinks Bondhla.

Program coordinator Bregje van der Steijn and program leader Ankie van Steen of Innovation@Work (which is preparing TU/e employees step by step for the new way of working in Atlas) look on from a distance, smiling. According to Van Steen, in the run-up to their relocation, employees have recently, “already done a huge amount; everything has already been digitalized, for example. This is a last playful helping hand: January is just around the corner. We're nearly there!”

Let go and have faith

Shared workstations, time- and place-dependent working, digital working and the paperless office will be the pillars supporting the new work environment in Atlas starting in 2019. And for many people this will require a complete turnabout in their thinking, realizes Van Steen. “It's about letting go of personal domains. Managers will have to develop the skills to manage remotely, employees will take on more personal responsibility. It is a change from ‘I’ to ‘We’.

For most people, this turnabout is something they have already experienced, says Van der Steijn: “More and more people are telling me that they are looking forward to it.” But not everyone. Van Steen: “Of course, there are always people who need time to adjust. It is important that you pay attention to everyone and treat everyone with respect - including the people who are less enthusiastic.”

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