Peter van Eijndhoven is a social entrepreneur and founder of Senter, a leadership consultancy company that creates and executes strategies for happier and more sustainable company cultures. He’s also the founder of Self-Sentered, a program that helps people to fundamentally improve their relationship with breathing, sleep, nutrition, physical activity and stress to get in shape both physically and mentally. To explore different methods for a healthier lifestyle, Peter experimented a lot with wearables, meditation, tiny tasks, ice baths, and suspending himself upside down and in his garden. Pictured are some of the objects Peter used in his personal quest for effective methods to improve well-being.
You help companies to improve their company culture. Why do you believe it’s important to focus on well-being in the workplace?
“Around 80% of all employees are unsatisfied with their work. People usually start working for a company because of the brand (values), but after a while, they end up leaving due to their managers. The main reasons for employees to quit are limited social interaction, unfit managers and a control-demand management style. To decrease stress and retain talent, it’s really important to create a healthy company culture.”
Why is lowering pressure at work desirable for a company? Isn’t it empowering to get an adrenaline boost every once in a while?
“In 2005, scientist Lyubomirsky published a study that showed that positive-minded employees perform better in basically all business situations. Stress contributes to a narrow state of mind – a tunnel vision. When you feel stress, you get into a fight-or-flight mode. Your body prepares for danger and your muscles get tense. When you’re in this mode, your mind shuts off potential opportunities. People are more creative and anticipative when they are relaxed, in the so-called rest-and-digest-mode. To improve the working climate, you have to facilitate conditions where employees are in a state of rest-and-digest.”
How does that translate to the workspace? How can workspace interior facilitate a rest-and-digest-mode?
“The interior at work should make employees feel at peace and allow for different habits during the day. A good example is to create a recharging room (reboot space) for employees to regain energy in the middle of their work day. We can learn from technology, where personalization is one of the biggest trends right now. If we use that concept in the workplace and connect workplace interior to data and a personal profile, employees become more comfortable because their environment is adjusted to their preferences. And there are more possibilities: technology can also help employees become healthier, by providing biofeedback through sensor technology for example.”
It seems there are endless ways to improve well-being at work. How do you prioritize?
“A way to think about well-being is to prioritize by survival level. You can ask yourself the question: what is the first thing you’ll die from when you have a lack of it? The first outcome would be oxygen. You cannot live longer than 10, maybe 20 minutes without breathing. Oxygen is followed by water, sleep, and nutrition. So you can start improving well-being at work by facilitating people to breath better, making access to water easy, allowing people to move more and work according to their natural circadian rhythm, followed by providing good food at work.”
Pictured on the right: 'Maslow's hierarchy of needs for the workspace' according to van Eijndhoven.
If there would be no restrictions, what would your future working landscape look like?
“My work landscape would stimulate the rest-and-digest state of mind. Further, it would be designed to facilitate social coherence. The scale of the spaces would be based on evolutionary rules on how humans used to organize themselves living on the steppe of Africa: limited to a maximum size of 150 people. No employee would have to deal with more than 150 people ranging from fellow colleagues, clients, managers, and other business relations. This way, the purpose of the company remains manageable and central in its entire DNA.”
Pictured: Prooff EarChair, a design that creates an intimate setting for minimal distraction from the hustle and bustle of the office environment.
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