Activity-based working is a term that has been bouncing around in the office design industry for many years now. It’s a way of working, determined by the way your workplace is designed and constructed. There are plenty of benefits associated with activity-based working, but this style isn’t without its critics. In this piece, we’ll take a look at activity-based working, where it’s at in 2022, and the benefits that can come with it.
What is activity-based working?
Activity-based working is an approach that allows your employees to choose exactly where they want to do their work (in the office). Therefore, this kind of working will be built around offering your people the choice of at least a few different workspaces.
The idea of activity-based working first appeared in 1983, when Robert Luchetti, an American architect, first mentioned the idea of activity settings. This meant using different parts of the office for different work functions, to increase productivity and efficiency in each task. Since then, the idea has been used around the world, but has only become commonplace in the past five years or so.
Many large companies utilise an activity-based working approach. The newest LinkedIn offices for example, have 75 different kinds of seating for employees. That means they are offering a huge range of working spaces for their people, ideally resulting in more productive and happier people! Typically, a Sydney office which promotes activity-based working will offer the following kinds of working areas.
Quiet working areas
Many people enjoy working in a quiet, relaxed environment, free from noise and visual distractions. Unfortunately, this isn’t really possible in an open-plan office, which is by far the most common layout. Therefore, providing quiet working areas is a really great way to encourage those who prefer such an environment, to succeed in their work.
For those who enjoy brainstorming aloud with colleagues, collaborative spaces are it. Often, these kinds of areas are colourful and vibrant, to encourage creative thinking and discussions. They’ll be more open, with much less of a focus on noise cancelling and acoustics.
Dynamic spaces offer a multipurpose area, for a wide range of uses. That might include meetings, physical activities like yoga and exercise, and much more. The point of these spaces is to be ready for a wide range of activities and purposes.
How has activity-based working changed?
So, how has activity-based working changed over the past few years?
Technology has really impacted the development of activity-based working, certainly for the better. There are so many options these days in terms of applications and hardware to promote connectivity and efficiency. These technologies can help make your activity-based spaces much more productive and user-friendly for your employees.
Businesses are now realising that the most important investment they can make is in the wellbeing of their employees. Therefore, when designing an activity-based office space, employee health, both mental and physical, should be the number one factor. This means ensuring that these spaces promote relaxation and reduce stress, along with their other intended functions. Originally, employee wellbeing wasn’t one of the main focuses of the activity-based approach to working.
The advent of new types and styles of office furniture has also had an impact on activity-based working. There are now far more types of office chairs, workstations and other furniture available to choose from. It’s this huge range of office furniture that offers businesses more opportunities to customise their spaces as they see fit, and to better promote a happy workspace.
The pros of activity-based working
There’s no doubt that the activity-based working approach comes with a range of benefits for the businesses that implement it, and the people who use the spaces on a daily basis.
Higher levels of productivity
Studies have shown that activity-based working can lead to higher levels of productivity. This is because, when people are able to work in exactly the kind of environment that keeps them on task, they’ll complete their work faster and to a higher standard of quality.
People with more choice at work are generally happier. And those employees who are happier and usually better at their jobs. They’ll approach tasks and colleagues positively and will be more focused throughout the workday. This is especially true when the tailored spaces in your office are well designed and constructed. In fact, one study found that employees were about 17% more satisfied at work when their office switched to activity-based working.
More efficient use of space
Activity-based working can mean using your office space more efficiently, especially when you work with an experienced office design company in Sydney. At Niche, we understand that every square inch of office space should be working for you. Therefore, by crafting unique spaces for different kinds of work, you could be making the most of your commercial space.
The cons of activity-based working
Potentially higher costs
Implementing activity-based working practices in your office can come with additional costs. If you’re working with a blank slate, you’ll need an expert Sydney office design company like Niche Projects. We can work with you to develop the ideal fit-out for your business and your people, and execute your strategy to perfection.
Additional costs may come from the fact that you are creating a tailored workspace for your people, and not just a cubicle farm or open-plan zoo. Therefore, you may end up paying more for different kinds of furniture and fit-out elements. However, the idea is that this investment comes back to you through higher productivity among your people.
Fewer employees at work
It’s true that since the pandemic, the number of employees working at home (at least some of the time) has skyrocketed around the world. Therefore, there may not be many people in your office at the one time. That means that your activity-based working methods won’t have much of an impact on your employees. On the flip side, you could argue that offering the choice of working at home is a form of activity-based working… just a more affordable model!
It’s evident that there are both advantages and disadvantages to activity-based working. However, this approach can give your organisation a serious edge over competition, and help to create a happy and healthy working environment. If you’d like to discuss activity-based working office design in Sydney, simply get in touch with Niche Projects today.