On-demand culture is quickly becoming the norm in our daily lives. From having your favourite shows on Netflix, to having your favourite meal delivered at the touch of a button. Workplace design is no exception and employees are beginning to see on-demand work spaces and flexible work arrangements as the new norm. The days of cubicles and cramming the most employees into a workspace are becoming a thing of the past as employers continue to see the many benefits of adopting more flexible working arrangements. The Activity Based Workplace or ABW Workplace for short is one in which employees are given the freedom to work where they want, when they want and how they want. No longer are employees assigned a desk, but can now move around freely utilising a variety of workspaces in the office. Activity based working research objectively finds that through activity based working arrangements employees have increased job satisfaction, increased office productivity, improved overall happiness and can also result in many positive health benefits.
Implementing a successful activity based workspace requires a change in mindset not only for the employee but the employer as well. For decades employees have worked in workplace environments that can be rigid and leave little room for the creativity required in today’s fast-paced world. Employers need to be able to provide the space and empower their employees to make informed decisions on where, when and how they will work. Employees on the other hand need to adapt to the ABW workplace, changing the way they work in order to make effective use of the work environment. They need to be aware of the expectations of each particular workspace and most importantly be aware of the expectations that flexible work arrangements entail. When applied correctly businesses can benefit not only from the increased productivity of employees but also improved space utilisation and reduced real estate costs.
What is Activity Based Working?
Unlike traditional open plan or cubicle style workspaces, the activity based workspace is one that is designed according to the nature of tasks that employees do on a daily basis. While still maintaining some open plan elements, the activity based working environment is one in which a variety of workspaces integrate together under one roof and are shared by all employees of an organisation when they need them. A library area for employees who need a quiet space to work, a restaurant booth as a collaborative space, a conference room for client meetings, a soundproof cubicle for phone calls and a lounge room for informal meetings. A recent Steelcase activity based working research study has found that 88% of highly engaged employees have greater flexibility to move around their workplace and work on tasks in areas of their choosing. The same study points to a strong positive correlation between employee engagement and workplace satisfaction.
The History of the Activity Based Workplace
The Activity Based Workplace is not a new concept, conceptualised by Robert Luchetti, an American architect in 1983 as workplace design that created “activity settings” for employees to complete a variety of office tasks, it didn’t initially take off as it was difficult for organisations to adapt to the change in mindset. While some countries like Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands adopted the changes, it wasn’t until the term ‘activity based working’ was officially coined by Dutch consultant Erik Veldhoen in the 1990’s that companies started to see the benefits of implementing activity based workplace design. No longer restrained by a traditional work model, employees gained the freedom to work where, when and how they wanted. Modern workspace design trends continue to see workplace design becoming more and more human-centric. The abw workplace model is constantly evolving to suit the on-demand needs of today’s fast-paced workforce. While not every organisation has been quick to adapt, employees on the other hand are becoming increasingly aware of what they want in a workplace and what they are willing to offer in return.
Activity Based Workplace Design Ideas
Careful initial planning when adopting activity based workplace design in your office space is the first step towards an activity based working model. The ideal activity based workspace is a sensory experience. Employees need both implicit and explicit cues on how to utilise each workspace in order to know which space is right for them. When designing your abw workplace you need to ensure that you not only plan space for the tasks of current employees but also take into account the organisational needs of employees in the future. Designing an effective activity based working space for your employees is best achieved by including your employees in the design process. At Future Fitouts we have compiled a short list of some different activity based workplace design ideas you can implement for your next office fitout.
- Office Cafeterias and kitchens – Serving a social function as well as a place to eat your lunch, office cafeterias and kitchens foster knowledge sharing between departments with the added benefit of having freshly brewed coffee nearby.
- Libraries – A library is an inherently quiet space. From a young age we are taught to maintain a level of silence in a library. Adding a library to your office space provides a quiet space for employees to go when they need to escape the noise of a modern office. Ensure your library has ergonomic workstations for employees who spend longer periods of time there.
- Lounge Areas – The comfort of one’s own home cannot be underestimated. Adding a lounge area to your office aids in social interaction between employees and that coffee table can be the center piece of ad-hoc meetings.
- Video Zones – Areas specifically set up for videoconferencing. These can be soundproofed for added privacy.
- Phone pods – Similar to a video zone, but soundproofed and ready for employees to make those important phone calls. Adding a phone pod also comes with the added benefit of reduced noise in the workspace.
- Team Desk – Usually a desk or restaurant style booth where employees can gather and work together on a collaborative project.
- Meeting and Conference rooms – Traditional in nature, implementing a modern meeting and conference room with state-of-the-art technology features is perfect for when privacy is key. Consider soundproof glass to keep the open plan feel while maintaining their private nature.
Is your business interested in learning more about how activity based working can be implemented in your workplace? At Future Fitouts we can help advise and design your next office space with the latest activity based working research in mind.