Anouk Scheres

‘It’s pretty exhilarating to do a bit of brainstorming while you’re walking through the woods’

Anouk Scheres, who is Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology at Radboud University, has worked in several different ways at different stages of her life. She has had a permanent workspace, alternated between working at the office and working at home and has even worked from a café. “As a staff member, it’s great to know that you actually have the freedom to decide where and how you want to do your job.”

Where do you mainly work?

“Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve mainly been working from home. Now that we’ve been allowed to go back to the office, I’ve combined the two and I now work from home and work at the office. It depends on what sort of work I’m doing; there’s work that I can do at home and work that I’ll do when I’m on campus. Sometimes I work from home the whole day or I spend the whole day working at the office and sometimes I’ll work from home and at the office on the same day. On those days I can pick up my daughter from school after I’ve left the campus and when I get home, I’ll switch back into work mode and participate in an online meeting from the comfort of my own kitchen.”

What is your job and where do you do your work?

“If I want to write an article or analyse data and work undisturbed for a few hours, I prefer to do that from home. But I also find it really invigorating to be around my colleagues, especially after the lockdowns. It’s mainly the freedom to work flexibly that appeals to me so much. That’s an experience I fully enjoyed when I was working in America. When I was there, I spent a lot of time in the café with my laptop. That was a perfectly normal thing to do, as was having the freedom to set your own working hours. For instance, I had a colleague there who started work at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and worked until 1 o’clock in the morning.

I’ve also noticed that I’ve needed different workspaces at different stages of life. When my children were very young, I spent more time working from home. When they got older, I found that it was preferable to separate my work and my private life and I spent more time at the office. And nowadays, I’m really enjoying the flexibility again.”

What are important aspects for you when it comes to your work environment?

“Well, there’s the flexibility. And the freedom to be able to work in different settings. It’s great that there are certain settings where you know you’ll bump into people and other places where you can shut yourself off from everyone else. In the Maria Montessori building, where my office is located, it’s pretty perfect in that respect. The building itself is stunning, and the connection with the rest of the campus is great. It’s pretty exhilarating to know that you can conduct a meeting outside on the grass or do a bit of brainstorming while you’re walking through the woods.”

InWork

Within Radboud Services, work is currently underway to implement and further refine an inspirational work environment in which staff members can do their work properly, effectively and happily. At this stage, it is only the work environment in the Berchmanianum that has been considered. As part of this project, staff members are not only given the opportunity to contribute ideas about their ideal work environment, they also got to choose the name of the project. InWork, which was Anouk’s entry, was the winning name.

How did you come up with the name InWork?

“I like to take part in these kinds of competitions, and see if I can come up with a nice entry. So I just let my thoughts simmer for a while. The name InWork eventually came to me when I was sitting at home with my daughter and I wasn’t really thinking about the competition at all. I was thinking about a name that contained the letters IN - interaction, being inspired by nature. Moreover, I thought that the contrast within InWork was quite witty, because you obviously don’t necessarily have to be ’in’ your office to do your job.”

As a reward, you got to spend the day - well cared fore - working from Café Fika. What was that like?

“It was great fun. I worked on an article with two Master’s students and we’ve almost finished it. We made a lot of progress. Working in such a nice place together makes it really easy to switch between ideas and work dynamically. Apart from that, it also inspired me to start spending more time working in informal places again like I did when I was in America.”

Is there anything about the work environment on campus that you’d like to change?

“Not really, things are just fine as they are. The facilities were already there before the lockdowns, but back then I don’t think that the flexible working culture was as developed as it is now. Most people tended to spend all of their time at the office. There was less variety when it came to work arrangements. There now seems to be greater transparency about taking control of your own situation, and allowing this to be determined by your own needs. I see this as a positive development. As a staff member, it’s great to know that you actually have the freedom to decide where and how you want to do your job.”