Healing Offices: a new kind of work space

According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, 2,7 million workers in the Netherlands suffer from burn out, and whilst the Dutch government is addressing work-related stress, multinationals are finding that they too can adapt their spaces to reduce sick days and boost employment productivity.

Working in the Netherlands

If you’ve moved to Netherlands recently for work, it’s worth knowing what the working culture here is like. There are certain rules about working hours, sick leave, and taking time off. You might also find that things can get a little stressful and you may have to deal with a work conflict.

An office sanctuary

Now, what if things were different; what if your office environment was set up more like a health sanctuary? With a traditional office setting on its way out, companies are catching on that humans have certain needs. Sitting behind a desk in a dark, stuffy office behind a screen for eight hours a day, isn’t one of them.

Dutch designers D/DOCK are the pioneers of a new concept; the Healing Offices®. The focus is on the health and happiness of the individual through an environment that encourages a healthy lifestyle. 

How it works

The design not only incorporates the importance of exercise and a healthy diet, but it also focuses on “soft factors” such as feeling connected, and having a sense of engagement, autonomy and control.

D/DOCK have used psychological knowledge and research to come up with a work environment that facilitates positive behaviour, and promotes the motivation and good habits of its employees. As a result, the employers can expect, according to D/DOCK, a 30 percent less absenteeism, a 20 percent increase in productivity, and even a longer lifespan of their employees.

The buildings infrastructure

In terms of the buildings infrastructure, the entire building is wired with tubes that either transfer internet or water. The water gets stored during the summer months and used during winter to heat and cool the building.

There are panels between each floor that push stale office air out into the atrium where it then gets expelled through the roof, allowing for good ventilation.

The glass windows can also change angle so that on a dull day, the natural light can still push through. The ceiling and southern wall are both decked out with solar panelling as well, making the building use 70 percent less energy than normal office blocks.

Technology in line with healing

Besides having been voted for the most sustainable building in the world in 2016 from British environmental agency BREEM, the Edge in the Zuidas business district in Amsterdam is a prime example of an office that heals. 

Using the latest technology, this office functions around the use of a mobile phone app that charges wirelessly when placed on your desk.

The building is designed with multiple smart systems and sensors to optimise lighting, cleaning, and heating. More specifically, employees have the freedom to adjust the brightness of lights and room temperature using their phone as a remote.

But it doesn’t stop there. In this office, there are no assigned work spaces, "hot desking" is preferred. The app finds you a spot depending on your schedule. For example, a sitting or standing desk, a work booth, a meeting room, a balcony seat or a “concentration room”. It also helps you find your colleagues!

There is also an on-site gym in case you need a midday workout. You can track your progress using the app, and if that wasn’t enough, each work station saves the energy you produce during your workout and sends it back to the electrical grid.

Already thinking about dinner? You can use the app to order fresh ingredients for your dinner to collect on your way out.

The building not only gathers rainwater from flushed toilets to water the gardens, where birds, bats and bugs keep the ecosystem’s vegetation in check, it also employs smart cleaning.

The robot cleaners roam around cleaning up after employees. This is tracked by sensors built into the light panels. Even the toilet is hooked up to wireless technology to indicate when they need a clean after it gets busy.

The garage is also cleverly designed. When you arrive, a camera snaps your license plate and matches it to your employment record. It even has LED lights that brighten as you approach, and dim as you leave the building. The garage also comes with electrical charge stations, and a separate space for bikes.

A win-win situation

Healing offices incorporate a new way to working, coined het nieuwe werken in Dutch. The Netherlands is hoping to build more buildings that incorporate smart, sustainable technology that will enable us to move away from a linear way of working.

Kiri Scully


Kiri Scully

Raised a global citizen, to an Irish father and American mother, Kiri has lived and worked in five countries over three continents. Fuelled by culture curiosity at an early age,...

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