From the 19th until the 22nd of October 2021, the 10th international week organised by the Facility Management department of Zuyd University of Applied Sciences took place in Heerlen.
This year, the organization was strengthened by a close cooperation with the EuroFM association with great success. More than 160 students from Germany, Austria, Belgium, and The Netherlands participated during this EuroFM international Autumn School Facility Management which was conducted exclusively through an online environment.
Students were challenged to get out of their comfort zones by communicating in English within their project groups. Before the international week’s launch, these groups contacted each other in order to get acquainted as well as to start brainstorming their ideas surrounding working from home.
During the international week, the students were charged with designing a floor housing 100 workspaces in a new office building belonging to the Dutch Tax Authorities (de Belastingdienst) located in Amsterdam. The Belastingdienst challenged the students to design this floor with three types of employees in mind; the home worker, the office worker, and the hybrid worker. Aided by various guest speakers who shared their knowledge and expertise about workplace design, community building, and data collection regarding workspace experiences, the students formulated personas and set their sights on creating an environment in which all personas were represented. Their work would then be translated into a video presentation in order to benefit their storytelling.
The students completed their assignments with great success! The members of the jury, comprised of teachers representing various participating schools and board members from both EuroFM as well as the Belastingdienst, felt inspired by the students’ results and elected the three best presentations. The members of the winning team were invited to visit the World Workplace Europe in Amsterdam on the 22nd and 23rd of March in 2022 and took home a certificate for €1000,- in order to facilitate their travelling and lodging costs during this visit. On top of that, the three best project groups were also invited to visit one of the ultra-modern hybrid office buildings of the Belastingdienst.
Quotes from students and contractor
“At the beginning I was nervous and sceptical about the project. My concern was that the team couldn’t get along in such a short time and because of that the output would not be satisfying. But the exact opposite was the case. I felt like the whole team had a strong will to create good work. Also, the fact that we had to talk in English, which isn’t the first language of either of us, didn’t affect the teamwork at all. The project also encouraged me to look for more international work, for example an internship abroad, in the future.”
Anna Eisenbichler, student Fachhochschule Kufstein Tirol Bildungs
“Even though this international week took place entirely online, I found these days to be very inspiring. No one from the group knew each other and that took some time to get used to at the beginning, but the collaboration went very smoothly and I think that makes this result as first place a very nice achievement!”
Naud Stoffels, student Zuyd Hogeschool te Heerlen
“The project gave me the opportunity to apply the knowledge I learned during my studies to a real client.”
Felicitas Reiner, student Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart
“An interesting and specific case during which we were especially triggered by the views of the next generation on the hybrid work environment. Where do they see the possibilities and opportunities?
The results proved to be surprising, positive, inspiring, and useful to consider during our project.”
Thijs Vrijsen en Renée Braken, Hybride Werken Belastingdienst (contractor)