Aug 23, 2018 in Viewpoint

Why we spend a third of our lives at work

At Mapiq we’re always consumed with the question of how people work. In our everlasting journey in finding an answer to that question, the design team visited the exposition 'Why Work' at FotoDok in Utrecht. 

Wendy Bakker
by Wendy Bakker
Mapiq
Anne, Wendy & Bouwe at Fotodok

What kind of motivation do we have to work, what does our work offer us and which emptiness arises when we do not work (anymore)? The fact that work is strongly related to the creation of an income, usually causes us to work. But what else does our work fulfill? If income doesn’t play a role, what role does our work have? The discussions that we had during our visit of the exposition can be captured in three themes: matter, value & legacy.

Every day at Mapiq, we are occupied with the way people work and what the influence the environment and tools can have on our way of working. As most people spend a third of their life working, the exhibition gives us reason to think why our work and our workplace is important. We experience that our work does not only provides us with an income, but above all, it makes us feel useful and it provides the feeling that you matter. As soon as we cease our work, we quickly look for other ways to make ourselves useful and to contribute to something. This is reflected in the “Mono Men” section in the exposition, which shows a number of images of older men working as traffic controllers in Japan. We are told that these traffic controllers are retired employees who become more involved in society by doing this work. For them, work is about making personal contact and contributing to society.

Evolve through work

Besides the feeling of being useful for an external purpose, we also feel the need to keep developing ourselves. In the exposition, we see the work of Hiroshki Okamoto “Recruit” in which we are taken into the long-term and exhaustive application process of a recent graduate in Japan. During our education, we learn new things and become better in certain skills. This is how we take care of the need to keep developing. However, this development is mainly focused on ourselves. At work we will find the combination of improving our skills and being able to apply these skills to contribute to something bigger. We want to get more out of ourselves in order to rise above what we already can do at the moment. We find photographs of activities in which the quality of products are tested, which are framed in a clumsy manner. It makes us think whether you can be satisfied with a repetitive job, in which you’re not challenged to learn new things. Does good job performance give us enough satisfaction, or do we want to face new challenges in order to develop ourselves? 

Mapiq
Marre and Simon check out the exposition

Legacy

When you’re part of a standard production process, do you leave something behind? Does this give satisfaction? The images of factory and machine work raises the question whether you can be satisfied with work that gives you minimal influence on the results. This photographer shows us the last weeks of a factory that is about to close. It’s the end of an era, the employees have worked here for years. Furthermore, work that consists of procedures that could be described as a manual, is work that could easily be taken over by robots. How does technology help us, if robots take over our work that gives us fulfilment as a human being? What will you leave behind, what is your legacy?

Our technology should support employees and not take over control

Mapiq team

Our take-away

After discussing all these findings, how are these insights interesting for Mapiq? At Mapiq we design the way people do their work. We believe we have an influence on the how employees find information, the atmosphere, the flexibility of someone’s schedule and the relationship between colleagues.

After discussing all these findings, how are these insights interesting for Mapiq? At Mapiq we design the way people do their work. We believe we have an influence on the how employees find information, the atmosphere, the flexibility of someone’s schedule and the relationship between colleagues. Eventually this adds up to make someone's working day more efficient. The exposition confirms and strengthens our belief that work is more than creating an income, and that making a someone's workday better stimulates well-being. In the future, we can play a role in bringing employees together with all their knowledge and skills, so that they can learn from each other and continue to develop. At the end of the day, we need to consider that our technology has the most value when it supports the employees, and not when it takes over the control that employees have over their working day.


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