Future healthy workplaces: WorkisPlay

Good employment practices and employee involvement are important in a future of labor scarcity. And in an increasingly complex business, collaboration and communication between employees and business chains is the key to success. Production, administrative and logistics work in particular is changing radically (WEF, 2016). Competencies are becoming obsolete at breakneck speed. No less than 65 percent of children who start primary school today, will be employed in professions that does not yet exist.

Innovation in workplace and in work processes is crucial. In designing these, three levels can be addressed – the individual though intrinsic triggers, personalized happiness apps; the physical space such as creating office jungles following biophyllic design; and the social level, i.e. organizing work processes, collaboration, knowledge management and communication in a growing non hierarchical setting.

Work is increasingly a permanent, and faster, process of innovation. Innovation no longer takes place in secluded labs, but in a continuous game between man and machine, between employees and departments, with customers and the crowd. Work processes are increasingly non-hierarchical (Volberda, 2013). Crucial in this are collaboration, fun and creative thinking. Gamification is herein a valuable tool.

During 2014-2016 is the WorkIsPlay method was developed by Van Middendorp and Hartkamp in production companies of the Dutch Horticulture sector. Goal was to support non-hierarchical teamwork in finding solutions to bottlenecks in company processes bottom up. The methods is based on design thinking of embodied making which follows the principles: all employees are knowledge workers, they are capable of designing solutions for complex problems and the key to improvement often lies in –apparent- details in the perception of the work processes. These details in experiences are so often large levers in improvement.

The cycle of WorkisPlay collaboration follows the steps

  1. Sharing of stories or narratives. Stories are the most reliable means to understand experiences.
  2. The identification of Forces. Forces are objective reasons why people have similar experiences.
  3. Solutions collectively balance the body of forces.
  4. Evaluation if stories change after implementation of solutions.

By sharing experiences and identifying numerous forces in detail that play a role in the stories, a deep insight is gained in the causes and consequences. In this way solutions can be designed that balance several forces, and solutions will be supported by all members of the team and thus more likely implemented. Employers can add specific gamification elements to the methodology. As the implementation of the method is fairly simple, training material was developed in 2016 (Van Middendorp & Hartkamp).

Visualization of the stories, forces and solutions encourages continuous involvement of employees. Software is available to map the interplay of stories, forces and solutions transparent, shareable and continuously available, but is not necessary. Teams of employees in the horticulture industry have independently implemented a large number of simple solutions. Not only did work processes improve; employee involvement improved as employees felt more connected to each other and the work processes, having a strong positive effect on motivation. Individual motivators autonomy, mastery and purpose (Pink, 2009) are addressed in the execution of WorkisPlay.


  • Pink, D.H. (2009). Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
  • World Economic Forum (2016). The Future of jobs.
  • Van Middendorp & Hartkamp (2016). WorkisPlay facilitator guide in Dutch at workisgaming.nl
  • Volwerda, H.W. & Bosman, M. (2013). Inovation 3.0: Slimmer managen, organiseren en werken.
  • Te Brömmelstroet, Nello-Deakin, S., Quillien, J. & Bhattacharya, I. (2018). Towards a pattern language for cycling environments: merging variables and narratives. Journal of Applied Mobilities. DOI: 10.1080/23800127.2018.150526


A.D. Hartkamp
: info@workisgaming.nl
: 06-53131944