News - June 30, 2020

Board to reconsider accommodation plan

Albert Sikkema

The coronavirus crisis and a critical memo on myWURspace from the WUR Council have prompted the Executive Board to reassess the Strategic Accommodation Plan for 2020-2025.

Flexible workspaces on the fourth floor of Atlas, at Wageningen Economic Research WEcR. Photo: Guy Ackermans

Wageningen Research’s Central Works Council (COR) in particular is not happy with the plan to stop giving staff having their own permanent workstations and introduce hot-desking at WUR instead. According to the COR, the coronavirus crisis has shown staff are willing to work a couple of days a week at home. That means WUR needs fewer workplaces on campus.

The ‘activity-based working’ approach of myWURspace — where workplaces are adapted to fit employees’ activities — looks good on paper, says the COR, but in practice most employees prefer working in one place throughout the day. ‘Only a small minority change workplaces regularly whenever they start a different activity. This evidence from actual practice will have to be taken into account in the setup of any myWURspace office,’ according to the COR.

Not desirable
The works council also sees little support in WUR for hot-desking. Surveys carried out by the works councils of the science groups among over 1000 employees show that 80 per cent of staff are not enthusiastic about myWURspace. ‘Staff recognize that the lack of office space is a problem and they want to help find a solution. But an open-plan office in combination with the end of fixed workplaces is not seen as a desirable solution.’

Almost 60 per cent of 1000 respondents want to work from home permanently one or two days a week

According to the Central Works Council, WUR needs to create a setup whereby all staff can concentrate properly on their work and which encourages cooperation between groups. Working from home could help, says the COR. Recent surveys in the Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group AFSG and School of Social Sciences SSG showed that almost 60 per cent of the 1000 respondents would like to work one or two days a week from home on a permanent basis. Only 17 per cent would not want to do this, says the COR.

Board member Rens Buchwaldt appreciates the input from the WUR Council and will take it into account when reassessing the accommodation plan. The revised plan is expected after the summer holidays.