The first Transdisciplinary Workplace Research (TWR) conference

The Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Network (TWR) welcomes participants to the first conference on work environment research, to be held in Tampere, Finland, from 20-22 September 2018

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The first Transdisciplinary Workplace Research (TWR) Conference

The Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Network (TWR) welcomes participants to the first conference on work environment research, to be held in Tampere, Finland, from 19-22 September 2018.

We encourage both academic and professional researchers to join us. This conference aims to bring together work environment researchers from all relevant disciplines, from both academia and practice.

This focus includes, but is not limited to, the physical work environment (e.g. facilities management, real estate, architecture and design, building physics (HVCSE), bio-technology), the social work environment (e.g. human resource management, behavioural sciences, organisational science, business, health, environmental psychology), the digital work environment (e.g. ICT, virtual reality), and work environment management (leadership and management, economics). The program will include presentations based on 57 submitted abstracts, from which the number of accepted papers is 18.

The conference will provide delegates insight into both current topics and future interests. During the two days, we will be discussing and analysing research on the work environment from many different perspectives, with researchers from around the world working in parallel sessions.

In addition to parallel sessions, the conference will also provide attendees the opportunity to discuss further enhancement of the field in special sessions and workshops aimed at jointly identifying future roadmaps for related sub-themes. This format will provide many opportunities to form and join transdisciplinary, international research initiatives.

In addition, a pre- and post-conference excursion will be organised to visit innovative workplaces in Tampere, and an attractive social program is also available. Pre-conference activities include visits to local co-working places and activity-based work environments in Tampere. After the conference there is an opportunity to participate in an interesting campus walk at Aalto University Campus in Espoo. There are many interesting new working and learning environments in the area, and of course you can see a wide variety of Alvar Aalto’s architecture.

Well-being has been the most popular theme of research submitted for the conference. One of the papers asks: What do we know and what should we know about healthy workplaces?

There will be a research report on measuring outcomes and value from health and well-being workplace interventions. If you are interested in flourishing workplaces you can learn about multi-sensory approaches including, for example, how plants and flowers affect happiness.

Psychological wellbeing, occupational medicine, and impacts of human resource management practices will be discussed; these perspectives are indeed achieving the transdisciplinary research initiatives. Finally, the conference will include research conducted in terms of workplace-related predictors of exhaustion symptoms. This topic is important also for one of two keynote speakers; he is Nigel Oseland.

“I am looking forward to come to Finland”, he said, emphasizing the close connection to nature as an important part of wellbeing. Nature and the nature of the workplace is also essential for Siri Blakstad, who will touch in her keynote speech on the theme: “Work is no longer where it used to be”.

It has been said that wellness advantages will play a more important role in the future than ever before. Happiness and wellness are walking hand in hand, and lots of effort has been made to discover the design solutions, concepts, and actions taking place in new kinds of workplaces.

We will also discuss many different workplace concepts. Research about activity-based offices includes insights about how to translate design to the actual use of activity-based offices as well as how to adapt to workplace change.

This new approach is focused on need-based work environments. Narrative design will also be discussed, indicating how narratives and visualized stories can enhance the use of an activity-based work environment. The keywords of the research focusing on open office layouts are: collaboration, employee views, affordances, and obstacles and hindrances of layout solutions for user experiences. Additionally, co-working offices are investigated from the perspective of investments in the property market as well as by understanding consumer preferences and wellbeing.

What would a conference about workplace be without insights into knowledge worker productivity? Two papers are dedicated to that topic, while several more focus on communication and networks. There is data gathered from business centres, campus environments, co-working places, and also from work-from-home experiences. In addition, technology is brought into the picture by sharing research about co-located meetings and collaboration. A tool for mapping out the Hub-concept is also being used to assess areas and environments that are dedicated to industry-university collaboration.

Methods of user-oriented design like the customer journey will be presented. In order to link the diverse disciplines to one big picture, new workplace trends will be on stage as well.
The future and culture are major topics that will be captured in several presentations.

The question following how to design a workplace is how to manage workplaces. The topics addressing that question include change, power, the Internet of Things, and sustainability. In addition to knowledge workers in diverse work environments, university and campus environments will also be discussed.

Based on our review of the papers and abstracts we can claim that much of the research is evidence-based, and the data to be presented has a distinct international flavor. Research from Mexico to Australia, as well as diverse European countries, provides inspiring insights but also a wonderful opportunity to network and learn, meeting both new persons and new disciplines. Architecture, corporate real estate management, business, diverse managerial approaches, psychology, and technological approaches will be prominent, just to mention some areas of interest.

The time is right for getting a transdisciplinary crew on board. As the first organizer of the conference it warms my heart that the some of my research papers have been focused on the challenges of building frameworks and methods for transdisciplinary workplace research.

And not only research: the work environments in practice require holistic and systematic approaches. It is all about people, teams, and organizations, the diversity of tasks, and their requirements for physical and digital platforms.

In order to help people be happy in their work environments we need to learn more, collect more evidence, and look bravely to the future, towards socially sustainable ways of working and living. We wish the workplace community welcome to experience this first conference; the planning of the second conference in 2020 is already about to start. Join us now, and join us in the future.

Suvi Nenonen

            Suvi Nenonen, adjunct professor, Tampere University of Technology is in charge of the first TWR-conference. She is acting with the help of an international board chaired by Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Suvi´s research is about people and buildings as well as usable digital and physical work environments.

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“The question following how to design a workplace is how to manage workplaces.”


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