Humanities scientists launch petition to retain permanent workplace

21 Jun 2022

Employees in the Erasmus building have started a petition for the retention of permanent workplaces. According to the initiators, flexible workplaces endanger the social cohesion and the well-being of employees. ‘It is not doable to keep your books in a locker all the time.’

The petition, which had been signed 98 times by this morning, was created by a group of young employees of the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies (FTR). They are concerned about the proposed layout of workplaces in the future humanities building.

The university’s Campus Plan states that the FTR and Faculty of Arts will get a new building on the site of the current Spinoza building, which will be demolished. In order to increase the occupancy rate of workstations, the university wants employees to work in flexible spaces. “A fixed, personal workstation is an exception”, says the Campus Plan. Saving space is more efficient and sustainable, is the thought.

Not taken seriously

This is a sore point for many scientists in the Erasmus building. ‘We have been saying for two years that we do not want flexplaces’, says one of the initiators of the petition, who wishes to remain anonymous. According to him, employees have expressed this view at every consultation session and meeting with the faculty board and external consultancies. They were often told that the introduction of flexible working would not go that far. ‘And now the Campus Plan states, without further ado, that flexible working will become the norm.’

‘Flexiwork threatens to stop employees coming to the campus altogether’

The needs of employees are not taken seriously, says the initiator. ‘For our work, it is important to have your own space where you can work quietly and concentrate and have your books handy. It is not doable to keep your books in a locker all the time.’

Wellbeing

At the moment, colleagues in the Erasmus building find each other easily. ‘We just knock on each other’s door.’ The same applies to students, who often go and see their lecturer with a question. ‘If you don’t know where someone is located, it jeopardises social cohesion.’

On top of that: flexitime threatens to stop employees coming to the campus altogether, unless they have to teach, the petitioner says. ‘You see this happening at other universities where flexible working is the norm. Employees come to the university extremely early to be sure of a good spot, or they stay at home.’

Ultimately, flexible working poses a threat to the well-being of employees. ‘A nice, permanent workplace, with your own books and other personal belongings at hand, is essential.’ The petition therefore asks the university directors to reconsider the large-scale roll-out of flexible working. ‘Every employee with a multi-day appointment should be given his or her own workplace, if that is what they want.’

The name of the cited initiator is known to the editors.

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