It is a bit obvious, but: “Yes, it runs smoothly!”, Damen says with a smile when asked about the TU/e Workwalk, which was finished in May 2018. The Workwalk is a two-kilometer-long blue line across campus that encourages staff and students to meet or consult with each other while walking. The route has starting points at different buildings and can be booked though the platform Book My Space, through Planon and Outlook.
Damen hastens to add that the gathered insights so far are mostly of a quantitative nature. In the coming months she hopes to speak more extensively to TU/e staff and students - “preferably on foot” - who booked the Workwalk. She says that the booking system indicates that the route is part of a research project and that users can be approached with questions. “Why did people book the Workwalk, for which purpose, for what kind of meetings? Did they walk the entire route, or just a part of it? And how does walking affect the dynamics of a meeting?” Damen hopes to complete the analysis of all input by April.
What Damen can say already, is that approximately two hundred and fifty people booked the Workwalk - “mostly with nice weather of course” - since its opening last year. She finds it difficult to say if that is a large group, or if that number was to be expected. “I also see people of my own group and faculty make the spontaneous decision to take the route, without a booking. As a change of scenery for visitors or new colleagues who otherwise would just go from meeting to meeting all day.”
By far the most bookings, almost fifty percent, were made at MetaForum. Not very surprising, says Damen: “That building simply has a very central position and a lot of people work there.” What does surprise her is the high number of bookings made by students, but she doesn’t rule out the possibility that some of these bookings were made by mistake by students who are looking for a workplace in MetaForum and think that the Workwalk is an actual, physical space.
Read on below the photo.
Several bookings were made at Flux and Gemini, and some from Traverse and the Laplace building as well. Hardly anyone booked the Workwalk from Helix and the IPO building, “maybe because the Workwalk is less visible to people who work there.”
Most vital campus in the world
PhD researcher Damen is also part of one of the study groups that were the result of the most recent TU/e Vitality Week last November. During this week, students, staff and other interested parties gathered for a brainstorm session each morning over breakfast in TU/e innovation Space with the purpose of making TU/e the most vital and energetic campus in the world.
Damen’s team, which will gather for the first time soon, focuses on ‘built environment.’ “The idea is to see if we can link research on vitality to our campus. The first ideas on this subject were gathered during the Vitality Week.”
Damen says that the TU/e Workwalk, which is currently still in a testing phase, could be one of the concepts suited for further development as part of this research. But the project needs to be evaluated first, in collaboration with Real Estate Management and TU/e’s Quality team.
High heels at home
She would very much like to see the meeting and consulting route become part of campus. “It’s very positive if a university offers something like this, it shows that vitality is on their agenda. Besides, it’s hardly an investment. Even if only ten people were to use it, it’s still an interesting concept as far as I’m concerned.”
The spontaneous actions within her own group raises the question whether it it really necessary to ‘facilitate’ such walks in the workplace. Damen thinks it is. “Perhaps it makes people think more, and that might trigger a different kind of behavior. Maybe they deliberately leave their high heels at home so they can have a meeting as they walk that day.”