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For some, it is an outright disaster. While for others, it’s hard to imagine anything else. Working from home. The latter group seems to be in the majority among homeworkers. Some 53% are positive about this and 49% want to continue working remotely after the corona crisis, according to a survey of more than one thousand Dutch workers conducted by the Dutch Intermediair magazine. For companies, this is a good reason to find out how this should look in the future. What does this new way of working mean for how you organize your company? How will employees work with each other? How will they be able to develop themselves? And what does this mean for our workplace? Start-ups provide answers to these questions in two sections. Today’s: CoVince on the workplace of the future.

Start-up Utrecht

Startup Utrecht in the Netherlands connects start-ups with investors, universities, and other institutions to bolster the start-up ecosystem around Utrecht. Here, too, they see the need for new initiatives for the changing way of working. Heerd Jan Hoogeveen, director of Startup Utrecht: “Innovations go much further than having the right tool for a meeting, such as Zoom or Teams. Those are technologies that let you do roughly the same thing digitally as you did before. But it is especially now that we need radically new approaches. Technological innovations. Start-ups offer these.”

Economic Board Utrecht

No one knows exactly what this is going to look like. But that companies are going to organize themselves differently is a certainty. That’s what Ramses de Groot, human capital program manager at the Economic Board Utrecht, is currently seeing. “In my role, I look at the change potential of the workforce. This change is accelerated by corona. In the beginning, you saw that it was especially important that all the systems worked properly. That everything carried on in the way we were used to. We have seen recently that this is entirely achievable. As a result, we are shifting even more towards a digital economy. Companies are still looking at how this can be done. Are offices still needed and what is the role of these kinds of buildings? At the same time, it is important that they continue to safeguard social cohesion. I do see a desire for new ideas on the rise in that respect.”

Changing workplace

Richard van Tilborg, the founder of CoVince, also has no doubt that our workplace is changing. This Utrecht-based start-up is creating a digital learning and social platform to make learning more fun and effective. Van Tilborg himself calls it the Netflix of Learning. Users can follow all kinds of online learning modules with various innovative technologies. From interactive videos and smart metrics to AR and VR gloves. All based on psychology and cognitive science to achieve greater outcomes.

Read more about CoVince here.

“Many large companies are not seeing a drop in productivity. I think the fact that they are now pondering if they can use their business premises in a different way is justified. Look at what kind of technology we already have and everything else that is still to come,” says Van Tilborg. For example, he has already created a module for live streaming and VR events on the CoVince platform. “All contact is via Zoom or by phone now that we are not working in an office. This means that we are really missing out on human contact. We are exploring how we can mimic that in VR. For instance, in our platform, you can make a digital scan of someone so that the digital image of that person appears in front of you in the virtual world. That’s more realistic than staring at your colleague’s head on a screen.”

Van Tilborg uses these techniques to enhance the e-learning modules, although the development of the technique can go in all directions. “Our e-learning modules are based on emotion. It has been proven that you remember things better when you link events in your brain.” Van Tilborg cites driving lessons as an example. According to him, hardly anyone remembers their fifth driving lesson. Whereas many people can remember their first lesson as clear as a bell. “That’s often an exciting experience, which helps you to memorize it more accurately. These emotions, like senses, certain smells, or a specific flavor can all stir up memories. We apply this science when designing our e-learning modules.”

Digital world is becoming more and more realistic

“Techniques that can spread smells have already been linked to the platform. In addition, there are electrodes on your tongue that activate specific taste buds using electrical currents so that you can taste something. It even goes so far that there are special masks that simulate the motion of chewing. This technique also exists in VR gloves, which give you the sensation of being in the real world when you pick something up in a digital one. It’s great to see where all this is going. All these techniques combined ensure that such a digital world becomes more and more realistic. Maybe people won’t want to go to the office anymore.”

But he doesn’t think things will go that fast. Van Tilborg: “A different mindset is needed, and that kind of change usually doesn’t happen that quickly. Now we still have a need for ‘real’ contact. We will keep on coming to the office for the time being. Yet the way we use it is bound to change. Technology is already contributing to this, just as working and learning are also constantly changing due to new technology.”