Edge is incorporating what is most probably the world’s largest walking meeting room. It’s hard not to get excited about that. We really took on the task to find ou
Edge is incorporating what is most probably the world’s largest walking meeting room. It’s hard not to get excited about that. We really took on the task to find out how that became a reality and why the idea arises out of necessity by talking to Guido Boumann and Matthijs Verdam, co-founders of the Walking Room.
The list of health issues associated with a lack of movement is never ending: from obesity and heart disease, to diabetes and mental health. Humans are designed to move, and yet every aspect of modern life seems to push us to a more and more sedentary lifestyle. Recent studies show that sitting is the new smoking, and if sitting down as much as we do these days affects us as much as smoking does, then there is definitely something to be done about it. Edge has always tried to incorporate intuitive ways of movement in each building, such as centralized staircases, gym facilities, even climbing walls inside the offices. However there is space to do better, hence we are aligning with the team at Walking Room, to bring change into the working day too.
One instantly gets enthusiastic about work meetings when you talk to Guido Boumann and Matthijs Verdam, the co-founders of Walking Room. The childhood tennis friends have an enthusiasm and passion that’s positively infectious – especially when it comes to their game-changing idea for a better, healthier workplace.
Four years ago, the pair reunited after some time on different continents. Guido had been working as a physical therapist in the Netherlands and Matthijs was in an IT role at HPE in the Netherlands and played tennis full-time in the United States. It was insights from their respective jobs that inspired them to create Walking Room. “Around 80-90% of the complaints I was dealing with as a physical therapist came from a lack of movement at work,” Guido recalls. Matthijs, on the other side of the world, realized that his colleagues were sitting on average between 8-10 hours a day. “In 2010, people sat an average of 6 hours per day. By 2020, this was closer to 9,5 hours.”
Hence, the idea for Walking Room was born: a room for up to 15 people to meet, walk, workshop, collaborate – all while on the move. A large treadmill in the centre facilitates movement for all participants, while a desk allows for easy presentation or work sharing. The space is fully human-centric, designed for energising, interactive, inspiring sessions that leave people happier, healthier and more productive. The design of Walking Room includes two treadmill sizes (13 square metres and 25 square metres, depending on requirements), and the entire device can be folded and wheeled anywhere, making it accessible for every and any office.
According to extensive research on workplace health done in collaboration with students at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences -
69% of employees want more physical activity in the working day.
The Walking Room comes with many benefits. Users who have tested the concept report feeling more creative and less stressed, performing better and enjoying being on the move. From the tenants’ side, in today’s competitive job market, it’s important for companies to differentiate themselves and to offer employees a good working environment. Post-Covid, it’s become even more crucial to attract talent back to the office. In fact, recent studies show that 68% of employees consider a healthy workplace environment to be even more important than salary.
Finally, today’s real estate developers are incentivized to think beyond mere buildings, focussing on societal impact and health, and being innovators in the field.
Naturally, Edge has been at the forefront of creating better buildings and workplaces for decades. We were huge fans, and bombarded them with messages for months to try and showcase our idea.
Eventually, it paid off: a meeting took place, and the Edge team was instantly sold on the idea.
There is a body of research showing that small moments of movement throughout the day is extremely important for your physical wellbeing. In this sedentary world we need creative ways of being able to move and work at the same time without it being distracting. The walking meeting room to me is one of the best examples I have worked on thus far.
Wellbeing Innovation Manager at Edge – Florijn Vriend
The first Walking Room will debut at Edge Stadium Amsterdam when it’s completed later this year. It’s a dream collaboration, and Guido and Matthijs are excited for the launch of their innovative concept. They have also recently merged with the treadmill producer, which means that the product remains 100% made in the Netherlands, thereby decreasing the footprint of the supply chain.
This project is definitely a driving force for change at the workplace, making the office not only a place to meet, work and discuss ideas but also health promoting. We are thrilled to welcome the Walking Room team at Edge Stadium and join forces on our mission to a better build future.