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June 4th 2015, by JanJaap Boogaard

First experiences

Colliers Quantified Workplace experiment

This spring, about 30 employees at Colliers International Corporate Solutions started participating in the Colliers Quantified Workplace (QWP) experiment. All subjects wear a FitBit device on their wrists. This wearable measures various parameters, including heart rate and sleep rhythms, and it is also a pedometer. The use of wearables is an unambiguous nod to the Quantified Self movement, which originated in medicine and was soon adopted in the sports world. Its main focus is good health. Key players include STRAVA and RunKeeper.

The Colliers QWP experiment is unique because of the link between the individual and the team (the organization) and the application of Quantified Self principles in the workplace. The experiment is based on the conviction that the development of the Quantified Workplace will change labour relations and will have a positive effect on the demands placed on the working environment.

The experiment has now been running for four months, and a number of initial experiences have been recorded. Time to ask some of the participants about their experiences. One of them is JanJaap Boogaard, workplace consultant at Colliers.

Were you triggered to participate in the experiment?

My work involves advising organizations on how they can organize and facilitate work differently to achieve better results in the end. The individual employee has a key role to play in these efforts. I focus on how individuals can work most effectively as part of the collective. Understanding individual needs and personal preferences is very important in this regard.

I want to use the Quantified Workplace experiment to discover for myself whether I can express my own personal preferences, and how I can balance various parameters such as exercise, wellbeing, stress level and productivity so that I feel better and achieve better results.

I am very eager to find answers to questions like: Does my stress level increase when I’m more productive, or does it in fact decrease? How does exercise influence my stress level and sense of wellbeing? How do my sleep rhythms affect my productivity? I think I already know what the answer might be, but I want to raise my own personal awareness and confirm my gut-level feeling.

What does the experiment mean for you?

The relationships that emerge between the various parameters are really fascinating. It is still too early to draw conclusions, but the initial correlations are already clear between exercise, wellbeing, stress level and productivity. This is very valuable information that provides unique insights, both at the individual level and at the organizational level.

As a positive side effect, I’ve been far more conscious of the amount of exercise I get ever since the experiment started. I’ve noticed that I feel far more motivated to exercise. I’ve opted to share my pedometer readings with my co-workers on a daily basis. Most of my co-workers also share this data, so we’ve started a kind of friendly competition to see who clocks the greatest distance on foot.

Have you experienced any disadvantages?

This wearable on your wrist takes some getting used to, although I must say I became accustomed to the device pretty quickly. It also offers a number of practical advantages. For example, it vibrates when you receive a call, you see the caller’s name and number on the screen, and it’s a wristwatch and an alarm all in one.