Transforming the office of the staff department into an open-plan and flexible work environment where all employees can work in an active and engaging way. This was, in summary, the assignment we were given by the IJsselland Hospital. The area is now used by physicians who consult there as well as by colleagues from other departments who are plugging in. It also occurs that members of staff and the Executive Board change places. The new layout encourages people to meet up with one another, have an active work attitude, to hold informal meetings and focus on their task at hand.
Flexible work environment
IJsselland Hospital houses a great many specialties and departments and more than 1,800 employees. The hospital supports, treats and cares for residents of (the vicinity of) Rotterdam. In addition to the main building in Capelle aan den IJssel, the hospital has a number of outpatient clinics. The Executive Board and staff departments are housed in the main building, and the floor they occupied until recently needed to be renovated to make room for the primary care process. ‘No more personal workstations in separate office spaces, but an open and flexible work environment', as the wish of the administrators of the IJsselland Hospital stated.
Stimulate activity and interaction
A new interior was required for several reasons, but the most important requirement was to 'bring about more activity at the office'. Activity in different forms; the hospital strives to have more interaction between its employees, for example. Ergonomic working was also an important issue; one of the conference rooms is equipped with a standing-height conference table to have employees stand more often and for longer periods of time. The conference rooms are also multi-functional. The conference tables in the board room can also be used for other types of meetings. Through this pilot, the hospital wants to find out whether this setup is also suitable for other departments.
The client’s thoughts
‘We have been working with our permanent supplier Gispen for two years now. Together with other hospitals, we procure furniture through a joint purchasing organisation, which includes Gispen. We also wanted to involve Gispen's interior designer in this pilot project. Our ambitions are high: with this brand-new department, we want to introduce a new working concept to the entire hospital. So far, the reactions have been positive; the wonderful combination of different zones and the various functions of the furniture are intensively used by the employees.'
New zones within defined contours
The contours of the new staff department had already been defined by the architect. It was now up to the interior architect of Gispen, Nelleke Lagerwerf, to furnish the different zones in the most optimal way. Nelleke: 'In addition to the open-plan office, there were two zones that needed extra attention. The entrance to the first floor, for example, needed to be suitable for an informal meeting, but also for a quick cup of coffee or a gathering. In addition, there was a zone where the hospital wanted to create a special handover area for consultation among the medical staff.'
Functional design for handover area
The handover area demanded a functional design. Nelleke: 'Both the tables and the video conference monitors of the conference rooms are used on a daily basis for medical consultations among physicians. In order to have all the necessary information available, they require five monitors on the table and two large monitors on the walls. This takes up a lot of space and has a large effect on the atmosphere and function of the room. This is why we developed a one-off furniture piece in which the five monitors are integrated, in a joint effort with Team R&D of Gispen. As soon as a medical consultation is finished, the monitors can be electronically lowered inside a case. Once lowered, you have a ‘standard’ conference table with tabletops at the same height. This feature allows the handover area to be easily converted from a conference room into an office area.’ The other meeting and consultation areas have also been designed to serve multiple functions. One of the rooms can be used as a lounge area, conference/scrum room and can even accommodate a standing meeting.
A wide variety of furniture
In addition to the attractive, practical and tailormade solution for the multifunctional handover area, a wide variety of furniture was selected for the open work environment. Jolanda Oosterom of the IJsselland Hospital: 'The interior architect has truly met our various wishes regarding the furniture and multiple functions of office work.' In addition to fixed desks, Gispen has supplied a large number of workstations that are manually adjustable in height. MultiLounge armchairs have been installed with large 'ears' to improve the acoustics. For the same reason, various desks have been fitted with acoustic dividing screens. There is a corridor of cabinets and plants In between the work environment and the entrance, dividing the different zones.
A word from the interior architect
‘This was a great project in which various forms of collaboration and meetings were to be made possible: standing meetings, scrum sessions and a lounge/conference room. It is great to work with clients who are open to innovation, the use of special materials and new working methods. We met up at the Gispen showroom on several occasions to select colours, materials and products. It was great that Jolanda Oosterom and Erica Moolenaar made prompt decisions on behalf of the hospital. This allowed us to stick to schedule, but it also contributed to the fantastic and stunning result!’
Products included in this project
The entire floor was fully furnished by early 2019. Jolanda: 'It is still too early to say whether the new working method will be rolled out throughout the hospital. The different workspaces are used for various functions. Some feared that there would be too few workspaces, but luckily this was not the case. All staff members can be accommodated and there is even room for other hospital employees and external companies. Although people prefer to work in the same place every day, the hospital has seen intensive use of the different work areas, with employees holding meetings or finding the need for concentration. The icing on the cake is undoubtedly the multi-functional handover area. ‘A beautiful result in a renewed, flexible work environment.’
Photography: Chris van Koeverden