(ID:193) office chair…...alternative workplace strategies

Tauw Group
Tauw is an independent European consulting and engineering company specialised in the design, improvement and management of the natural environment, built-up environment and infrastructure.

AddressHandelskade 11, 7417 DE, Deventer, The Netherlands
ContactNaomi Keijser, Project Leader, naomi.keijser@tauw.nl
Line of industryConsulting and Design services; Financial services; Research
Area of expertiseDesign; Construction; Sustainability; Power generation and conversion; Installations
Sizemore than 1000 employees

Role of company/organisation

Tauw is an expert and leading company in the field of environmental consultancy, spatial development, civil engineering and the monitoring of environmental quality. In these fields a prominent reputation has been acquired in studies and design. We are used to working in multidisciplinary teams on projects for a broad range of clients: public authorities, private companies and non-governmental organisations. State of the art expertise on content and understanding of the local context are the pillars of our consultancy. Tauw’s vision is that the best solutions come from passionate cooperation at an early stage of the planning process.

Description of idea

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The office chair, let's make alternative workplace strategies work Everybody knows the feeling; again you're later than usual on your way to office because earlier that morning you had an appointment elsewhere, and there’s not a parking lot left anywhere near the office. Then you finally walk into the office to the area where you usually sit to find out that there’s not a single desk free. After a long search, you finally find an empty desk on a lower floor, right next to the copier, where it's virtually impossible to concentrate. This is exactly the opposite of what you want to achieve as an organization if you want to introduce Alternative Workplace Strategies. Our idea combines several innovative techniques and services to come to a complete solution in the quest of changing and sustainable government. Key in our solution is the ability to monitor the utilization of the various municipal buildings in an interactive way and communicate this to a broad audience. Previously this could be monitored by the number of people logged on on fixed PCs. However, with the upcoming use of wireless equipment this is outdated and so not working anymore. Yet there is a facility that almost everyone uses, and that is the office chair. And that’s exactly why we are going to upgrade the existing office chairs. We will be using a sensor to determine if the chair is occupied or not. We put the sensor on a circuit board with a WIFI transmitter, which will send a signal to the nearest router. This sounds pretty good already, but you would need a battery or a power cable to make this work. For this we have an ingenious solution: we use Piezo elements that we put on the frame of the chair. The Piezo elements generate energy by vibration, so when a user sits down or moves, a small amount of energy will be generated. This energy is sufficient to operate the circuit board and to make wireless presence detection possible. We make this information easily accessible by means of e.g. Smartphone applications. We connect these apps to other useful data such as the availability of free parking spaces, convenient public transport hubs and bicycle charging stations. The information can also be viewed at conveniently located touch screens in the entrance of the buildings. Our final image is that you are a bit late on your way to the office again. But this time, before you left, you checked with your app on your Smartphone where there are free workspaces. The moment you saw a beautiful location, you immediately reserved this workspace. The application indicated that parking spaces were barely available in the vicinity of the building, but provided a good alternative where you could transfer from car to train. So, you arrive at the office and open the app; it gives a description of the fastest way to the booked spot, close to the window and some good colleagues. A spot you always like….

Illustrating fileTauw-The office chair.pdf
Type of ideacombination of product and service
Category of ideatechnical; design; work flow
Enabling conditionsThe individual components (pressure sensor, Wifi transmitter) have been standardized, but combined they must still be subjected to practical testing. In addition, a piece of hardware and software is required. This is needed to create an interactive environment in which users can interact with the occupancy rate of the different governmental buildings and also have insight in parking spots and public transport. Therefore, to develop the solution it is necessary to cooperate with a party that delivers and maintains office chairs to build and test the new hardware. Also a cooperation with a party is needed that can create and program the new hardware and software. Though relatively standard, the hardware and software is not yet a common solution.

Stage of development

Underpinned innovation: it has not been used in practice yet but it is well underpinned.

Substantiation stage of development

The individual elements have been mostly subjected to extensive practical testing, or already are standard solutions in other areas. For example, the pressure sensor is standard in the automotive industry. One of the most unknown parts is the Piezo element, but a large number of studies from mainly universities show that the Piezo elements generate sufficient energy to power the hardware that is envisioned in the chair. The hardware and software to make the interaction with users possible is not standard as a complete package, but it only combines existing technologies. The functioning of the solution is therefore in our opinion not a problem; it comes down to the extent to which employees are willing to adapt to the new way of working.

Provability contribution to sustainability

Underpinned contribution to sustainability; this can be shown on the basis of experiments or calculations.

Step in the right direction

The city of Eindhoven has the ambition for the municipal buildings to grow and transform with changing needs and users. Our solution is a step in the right direction by visually innovating regular office furniture using Piezo, but also by supporting the changing government and “Het Nieuwe Werken”. The flexibility of an independent office building, as well as a whole, can be more efficiently utilized. It will also be much easier to find a place to meet, to gain knowledge and share this knowledge. The ability to find easy accessible flexiplaces any time and linking them to different ways of transportation like public transport also makes an indirect reduction of travel time and will stimulate the use of public transport and bicycles.

Flexible idea

Our idea uses everyday technologies and products whose production for each of the elements has a very small impact on the environment. In addition, our idea consists of two major elements that are very easily scalable. First is to update the existing office chairs, these can be upgraded individually, but also at the same time in large groups and the chairs are self-sufficient by the Piezo. There is also the system that must inform the users with information regarding office occupation. This software with hardware support can be easily scaled to the number of buildings and facilities that are connected to it.

Good investment

Our solution is a step in the right direction by visually innovating regular office furniture using Piezo, but also by supporting the changing government and Alternative Workplace Strategies “Het Nieuwe Werken”. The ability to find easy accessible flexiplaces any time and linking them to different ways of transportation like public transport also makes an indirect reduction of travel time and will stimulate the use of public transport and bicycles.

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