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Working at the University of Twente in the future

The impact of the corona pandemic on housing

How and where will we work in the future?

The campus of the University of Twente is an oasis of tranquility. Few people move on the wooded trails on the 146-acre campus. It is more than eight months after the start of the corona pandemic that has virtually brought life on campus to a halt. No students, no project presentations or team meetings: studying, researching and working takes place almost entirely online. The longer the pandemic lasts, the more likely our usual patterns are to change. We no longer travel to the office five days a week, large lectures are recorded and watched when it suits the student. The university's senior management wants to think through what this means for the campus in the long term. How and where do we work? How can we adapt our housing to this? What does this require from our digital infrastructure?

Scenarios explore different futures of work and study

Jester Strategy engages university senior management with scenario thinking. A way to explore the future in a structured way and to provide insight into uncertainties. A core team and a group of 20 executives from different faculties and services reflect on trends, their impact and what this means for how we work, study and recreate at the university in the future. The target year of the scenarios is 2030, which is in line with the long-term vision of the university: Shaping 2030. While one scenario assumes a rapid return to working on campus, another scenario paints the picture of an almost completely digital world with each other continuously subsequent lockdowns. The scenarios give an idea of ​​the state of affairs in the Netherlands, higher education, students and employees and the campus. In one scenario everyone works from their own office, in the other scenario hybrid working is the solution.

“The scenarios help us to think outside the box. Hybrid working will continue to exist, even after corona. With the scenarios, we can determine how we implement our Shaping 2030 objectives and at the same time adapt to changes in how and where we work.”
Mirjam Bult-Spiering, outgoing vice-chairman of the Executive Board of the University of Twente

Future-proofing long-term housing plans

The future scenarios are used in two ways. First of all, senior management brainstorms about what the scenarios mean for how and where university employees work. The core team formulates a number of concept principles surrounding hybrid works and the physical and digital infrastructure. The core team then validates these principles with 70 stakeholders within the university: students, researchers, teachers and staff members. The general principles are the starting signal for HR to further shape hybrid working. The principles for the physical and digital infrastructure are the framework for future-proofing the long-term strategic housing plan (LTSH) but also the Digital Agenda of the university.

Second, the scenarios are used to stress test the LTSH. The plan is 'pulled through all scenarios' to see which parts are more robust and which are less. The emphasis on flexibility, multifunctional real estate and the campus as the heart of the university community make the plan robust. More specific projects and themes aimed at increasing capacity carry a certain risk. The future calls for a great deal of flexibility, but we have to accept that real estate is inherently inflexible. Precisely because of the mutual impact, an integrated approach to housing, digitization and the (new) way of working is so important. At the same time, the UT also has to deal with a strongly anchored culture within both the primary process and the support. Thanks in part to the guidance by Jester Strategy, the basic principles have provided an important basis for thinking about the future, what will be followed up in the near future and what the core team can work with.

“The collaboration with Jester Strategy has helped us to look to the future in a structured and creative way. Not only do we have a future-proof housing plan, we have started a conversation within the university about how and where we work.”

Nico-Tom Pen, Portfolio Manager Real Estate University of Twente

Do you want to know more about this project? Please contact Linda Kaput.

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