Brooding on solutions to questions such as: what will young people want to eat during their workday in the near future? How does food relate to the working environment? Or: how will we deal with mental vitality? And: how will digital tools stimulate us to get more exercise and to take mini breaks? Or: how will we ensure a social connection between colleagues who work both online and in the office? These were some of the questions that were tackled during the hackathon on 15 February.
The nature of our work has changed drastically. Generation Z has a different set of needs and ways of working in relation to a vital work environment. Marieke van Beurden, manager Workplace Vitality Hub (WPVH) explains: “The goal of the hackathon was to come up with ideas and solutions for concepts that meet those needs. Naturally, these ideas and solutions should be aimed at a healthy working environment, both physically and mentally. In addition, we strive to investigate what kind of collaboration is required to bring these solutions to the market.”
Sportinnovator and Eindhoven Engine were the initiators of the hackathon. Immediate cause was the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) for Sport & Exercise, which promotes a healthy working environment for young professionals.
Danielle de Boer, Strategic and Program Manager of the Dutch Research Agenda Sport & Exercise: “We use the results from the hackathon to shape future projects. Students will play a central role as designers and researchers in these projects, as part of the Roadmap Healthy Generation of the Dutch Research Agenda.”
A total of 75 students from both Fontys Academy and Eindhoven University of Technology participated in the hackathon. They all had a different educational background, from legal, sports, business economics, international communication to industrial design. To find an answer to the questions from the participating companies, Compass Group (food), Nemho (mental vitality), Zens (more exercise), CTOUCH (social connection when working online), the students were divided into twelve teams. After a short introduction and clarification of the questions, the teams started their exploration phase. An inspiration break came in the shape of a lunch at Holst Centre, as well as a workshop on pitching ideas by Loek Damen. Back at the Hub, the teams visualised their ideas using lego and other craft work materials. A specialist from one of the partners in the Hub was always around to coach and answer questions.
Roderick Wondergem, post-doctorate researcher at Fontys Sports Academy and once of the coaching specialists during the hackathon adds: “If the theme of vitality is as present in an organisation as much as the energy was during this hackathon, then we have a bright future ahead of us. This hackathon once again proves the added value of a multi-disciplinary approach to cooperation. The various backgrounds of the students enriched the solutions they came up with and maybe even made them more sustainable.”
To conclude, every team presented its results. The jury, consisting of members of the top team of Sports and Exercise as well as representative from the partner companies, assessed the results and declared a winner.
The ultimate winner was the team that worked on a question from Compass Group. Bente van den Heuvel, Community Manager at Compass Group: “It is nice to see that this new generation is coming up with creative solutions for a sustainable and vital living environment, something they really believe in.”
One of the winning students, Kelly Bezems, described the day as “dynamic, fun and social. Our team consisted of students from very different educational backgrounds. Together we worked towards finding a solution as if we were in some kind of pressure cooker.” Both Compass Group and the students are collaborating to turn the idea into an actual application.