The Project


Project Overview and Objectives

Well-being has a significant impact on the performance of elderly employees as it influences physical, social, and psychological properties of a human being. Also for companies, “well-being” is getting importance, as evidence is starting to emerge demonstrating that a poor well-being of the workforce affects higher costs related to illness and health care absenteeism, turnover, and discretionary effort. It is important to notice that “well-being” is a multi-faceted phenomenon. Physical well-being can be captured by objective physiological measures of bodily health (e.g. heart rate, blood pressure). On the other hand, psychological well-being expresses the state of mental health of an employee and is thus often expressed by subjective experiences. Finally, whereas psychological well-being and physical well-being are properties of the individual employee, social well-being focuses on the interactions that occur between employees. It is therefore an indicator for trust, social support, reciprocity, cooperation, and communication among employees.

With the Active@Work project, we want to develop a modular solution with a virtual assistant tool that is able to improve primarily physical and social well-being of adult workers, in particular those close to retirement age, by helping them to remain active during their daily work and feel appreciated by their fellow workers of their company. It will be a multi-modal solution (e.g., PC, tablets or smartphones), capable of interacting with the end-user in a very natural and personalized way. Usability requirements are therefore a major concern to dynamically adjust interaction and notifications in conformity to each end-user profile, providing well-being information and suggestions to senior workers to keep active and healthy, both physical and mentally.

The solution will incorporate an "intelligent agent" that will assist the user to be aware of their physical well-being status at workplace and to prevent any risk derived from fatigue or stress at work. One of the main characteristics of the solution will be the capability to actively intervene, in response to identified potential threats that could compromise workers well-being or compromise their role within the organization. The solution will provide support for adult workers to engage in new and rewarding activities, where his/her knowledge and experience will be an important and recognized asset. Team management and tutoring of younger colleagues will be some of the social features within the project.

This means that the project target group are older adults with expertise ("soft-skills") that are relevant to keep within the organization. The idea is to demonstrate the importance of keeping older adults motivated and with a feeling of usefulness, encouraging them to participate in specific programs. Therefore, the proposed two pilots will address the Services Sector, a very demanding work environment, covering heterogeneous organizational processes, including requirements for indoor and outdoor monitoring environments. To achieve these goals, an extensive and diverse range of users will participate during the project development and test phases. Using a Design Science Research (DSR) approach, end-user needs will be considered from multiple perspectives. This also implies taking into account parameters like age, gender, education, among others, in order to acquire a large range of feedback. Such approach enables to cover a huge spectrum of service providers and cope with more than 80% of a typical organizational structure, covering multiple stakeholders concerns and operational requirements.

Project Objective:

The Active@Work project will provide a modular solution with a Virtual Assistant Tool able to assist adult workers in particular those close to retirement age, to continue executing their daily work. This solution consists of:

  1. Cognitive Module – monitors the employee’s well-being and the work environment conditions, providing a catalogue of services to keep older employees aware of their well-being status.
  2. Skills Development Module – helps employees to improve their Curriculum Vitae and expertise, keeps them aware of their ranking and informs about soft and hard skills they should acquire to improve their Curriculum Vitae.
  3. Collaborative Module – promotes active participation and interaction between employees by sharing experiences and mentoring the implementation of new business ideas.

This figure presents a high level view of the core approach to provide a surveillance service capable of acting preventively by monitoring the person's well-being status, independently of his/her location. Context-awareness technology plays a very relevant role. The Active@Work project will establish the technological foundations required for the implementation of an assistant tool according to software-as-a-service (SaaS) principle to illustrate the interaction with the general building blocks of the underlying reusable middleware.

Cognitive Module

Implementation of a cognitive module with personalized multi-modal interfaces – It is a web-based platform with an innovative data integration info-structure for context-awareness surveillance, meaning that data is analysed according to two main dimensions: the physical addressing the environmental conditions of the workplace and the adoption of gamification technique for the assessment of employee skills, promote tea-work and will assure the creation a good social environment of each employee within the organization. To accomplish these goals the system will have to:

  1. Monitor the well-being status of older adults at work (targeting both blue-collar and white-collar workers). This will be accomplished through commercially available wearable or portable, auto-adaptive, self-calibrating sensor devices capable to remotely and periodically collect data (e.g., physical activity, blood pressure, pulse rate, body temperature, etc.), and wirelessly report those data to a central server to be processed.
  2. Implement innovative data interoperability techniques to interact with existing sensor systems to collect data about the environmental conditions at the workplace (e.g., air quality, temperature, noise, etc.); and also implement an indoor location position technology that takes into account the floors & walls in the work environment.
  3. Provide operational intelligence with a proactive model and predictive algorithms for recognition of behavioural trends and early detection of situations potentially threatening the well-being of older adult workers, triggering alert messages when the thresholds related to each individual are exceeded.

Collaborative Module

Provide a collaborative module - next generation of a work environment for shared responsibilities between all relevant stakeholders in the working ecosystem, promoting collaborative environments to share experiences between employees and assist employees to be collectively more productive. The objective is to get the best from older adults, shifting their actions and roles to tasks where they are more skilled and more experienced than younger workers, namely through Consulting and Tutorial Services.

  1. Promote mentoring of junior staff (targeting intergenerational knowledge transfer between older adults and younger colleagues).
  2. Help younger employees to become more successful within the company and apprehend the company culture, promoting interactions and share of expertise with senior employees.

The proposed platform intends to encourage team discussions of new ideas (Idea farm) in order to create new services, processes, and even increase the level of education and acceptance by older adults of information and communication technologies (ICT). Thanks to this platform, older workers will be the central element, resulting in an effective use of their skills, allowing them to feel useful and at becoming an important asset to the institution.

Skills Development Module

Offers a skills development module – a software module that helps older adults to improve their Curriculum Vitae and expertise, keeps them aware of their global classification (i.e., Curriculum Vitae assessment, classification regarding the organization workforce, position in relation to peers, etc.) and informs about soft and hard skills they should acquire to improve their Curriculum Vitae. This tool particularly fits older adults to help them to acquire the necessary knowledge before they start executing any new task, for instance, in a new role, task or in a volunteer project. The theoretical framework associated to the research work that supports this software module aims to contribute to improve employee’s self-awareness and auto-regulation (techniques associated to the Gamification concept), promoting how each employee expertise (soft and hard-skills) is perceived by the organization. The module might include an intelligent component to provide recommendations about how the employee should progress to stay aligned with the expected expertise needs for the medium/long term.


Funding Agencies

The project Active@Work nº AAL-2013-6-140 has received funding from AAL JP, co-funded by the European Commission and National Funding Authorities: Ministerio de industria, energía y Turismo of Spain (Minetur); FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia in Portugal, Government agency for Innovation by Science and Technology of Belgium (IWT); and State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) of Switzerland.

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