Dutch by design: Amsterdam event dials up innovation

Tackling big themes such as sustainable architecture and safe data-gathering, this spring’s WORKTECH Amsterdam conference was enriched by its impressive location and workplace tours

Hosted in the brand-new Edge Stadium on 19 April 2023, the latest WORKTECH Amsterdam conference was always going to be energised by the level of technical and architectural innovation on display. And with tours of the new HQ in Amsterdam on offer, it’s no surprise that the event took a deep-dive into how both Edge and have created spaces that are as sustainable and healthy as they are impressive.

Talks from Cees van der Spek, Public Affairs & Global Corporate Relations Director at EDGE, and Marnix Mali, Director of Real Estate & Workspace Services at, gave the Amsterdam  audience a masterclass in how modern office buildings are made, from ideation to technology integration.

Both of these spaces reflect a desire for workspace to be flexible and for a need to prioritise sustainability, to utilise data to optimise the workplace experience and to continue to develop buildings after completion through post-occupancy surveys.

Attendees were also treated to the fun of the world’s first walking meeting room in Edge Stadium and an exclusive tour of the HQ where attendees got to see the space 11 days out from its official opening.

Data on display

Data utilisation continued as a wider theme throughout the conference as a panel discussed the thorny topic of employee reluctance towards being monitored and even highlighted cases of data-handling gone wrong. However, the panellists – Elizabeth Nelson of Smart Building Collective/Certification, Mike Halliday of Cordless Consulting and Tom De Fruytier of Signify, guided by moderator Ella Hafermaltz, Associate Professor in the KIN Centre for Digital Innovation at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam –  were clear on one key point…

The worries we have about how quickly new technologies develop, and whether or not we are given time to put necessary protocols in place to protect people, do not always outweigh the excitement of new innovations that can transform the way we live, work and design our built environment.

Creating collaboration

Collecting data and getting employee buy-in is only one half of the issue. Whether or not companies are using that data effectively and collaborating on projects is a whole other question and this was the topic of another interesting panel, moderated by Alexa Lightner, a change management Consultant at Unwork and Lightner Insights.

This panel featured: Henk Smeenk, Workplace Architect at KLM;  Marien den Boer, Program Manager of National Program Hybrid Works at the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations; Patricia Garcia, Project Manager for Real Estate & Workspaces at; Raphaël Morgulis, Senior Manager Thought Leadership & Community Relations at Locatee; and Sandra Gritti, Senior Manager Strategic Projects at EDGE Next Services.

The debate brought together a variety of governmental and commercial perspectives from a range of technological and architectural services to share how collaboration across departments can be transformative and how it can be achieved within the workplace.

Sandra Gritti recommended that when it comes to collaboration across departments, starting with smaller, trial projects can help companies get into the rhythm of working with each other before they tackle larger-scale organisational transformations.

Trans-disciplinarity transformation

Finally, Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek, Associate Professor in Corporate Real Estate & Workplace at Eindhoven University of Technology, was present at WORKTECH Amsterdam 2023 to discuss her new open-source book series Transdisciplinary Workplace Research & Management and offer pearls of wisdom from the worlds of behavioural economics, psychology and more disciplines.

‘These texts amount to a how-to guide for any workplace management team…’

These texts amount to a how-to guide for any workplace management team and give advice on how to avoid applying theories such as nudge theory in a manner that is overly paternalistic. This could help out any workplace experience team looking to make positive changes and the choice to open-source the texts makes them freely accessible.

See more about the line-up of speakers and panellists that spoke at WORKTECH Amsterdam 2023 here.

Echo Callaghan is a writer/researcher with WORKTECH Academy and was co-chair of WORKTECH Amsterdam 2023 with Susannah Burock, Vice President, Global Workplace Experience Manager, Corporate Real Estate & Services at Swiss Re.
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