6 July 2021

First steps towards the campus of the future

Over the past few weeks, we have conducted a survey and interviews to collect the first input for the Integral Housing Plan (IHP) for the Faculty of Science. The plan should offer us direction for the housing needs for the next 10 to 20 years, as we anticipate for expected trends and developments in the world of research, education and work.

The main insights so far:

  • Lectures for large groups will mainly take place online in the future. Tutorials need to be held on location in person to facilitate the necessary interaction.
  • Employees’ work in the lab often does not follow fixed patterns or schedules, despite the fact that they need to reserve equipment. Their workplaces therefore need to be located nearby.
  • Lab facilities are occasionally shared between departments, and sometimes even outside the faculty. Most respondents also indicated that they can work using a ‘clean lab bench’ policy.
  • A large part of the respondents has their own desk at the office. If workplaces will be shared, then tools to work independent of place, such as a laptop, and the availability of workplaces are an absolute must.
  • The most common work activities for employees are one-to-one meetings or meetings in groups of two to five people, individual work that requires concentration, and video calls. These activities do not always have the support they need on campus at the moment.
  • The main activities for students on campus are education, relaxation and individual work that can tolerate some distraction. The respondents indicated that education and relaxation are somewhat supported or well-supported on campus, and individual work is well-supported.
  • Social cohesion is highly appreciated by both employees and students. To facilitate more multi-disciplinary work, it is crucial to have spaces where spontaneous encounters and interactions can occur over the boundaries of the departments.
  • More than half of the respondents state that they do not have a dedicated space to work at home. For that reason, and due to the nature of their work, they do not plan on working mainly from home in the future. However, tasks that require concentration without distractions, and (video)calling most prefer to perform from home. These activities are also those that are least well-supported at the faculty. At home, employees mainly lack resources to work (together) in an ergonomic way, such as an extra monitor.
  • Peak occupancy in the office is expected on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The majority prefers to work on campus around half of the time. The percentage varies per department, and depends on the individual’s tasks and the need to use a lab.

The campus of the future

We awarded five gift vouchers from the UU Shop among the survey participants. We asked some of the winners what the campus of the future means to them.

Marcel Hobma, student: “My campus of the future is green, and should offer both students and staff a place where they can work and study healthy and enjoy drinks together.”

Carmen Jansen, student counsellor: “The campus of the future? A mix of offline and online working – not necessarily from home – where everyone can decide which location is most effective for them. And then there will be time for meaningful, inspiring face-to-face encounters in small or large groups.”

Milka Westbeek, administrator: “The quote: ‘The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways’ by the American author Robert Greene precisely describes how I’d like to see the campus of the future: an innovative place where everyone can develop optimally.”

Next steps

In late August, we will continue collecting input through workshops with the expert groups Facilities, ICT, HR, Sustainability and Safety (supply). We will also have workshops with workgroups from the education, research and work environments, in order to gain a good impression of their day-to-day activities and what they need to perform them (demand). After that, we will define the commonality in the needs and requirements of all groups of users, and determine their feasibility. That will result in an advisory report.

We expect to come with a new update about the IHP in late October. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact Ronald Oosting, department manager Huisvesting & Arbo.