An increasing number of companies are choosing an activity-based office over separate office rooms or an open floor-plan office. How does an activity-based office benefit the company and what everything needs to be considered when planning one?
What Is an Activity-Based Office?
Today’s employers are increasingly understanding that employees are their most important competitive advantage – and that an office space that supports efficient working is always also an investment in the success of the company. Often companies that decide on an activity-based office, are those who want optimal and diverse working conditions for their employees.
An activity-based office is a modern work environment solution that divides the office space based on their intended use purposes. The concept is based on activity-based working, where the space is designed to support different methods of working: quiet concentration areas, communal teamwork areas, etc.
The intention is that employees can select the area or workstation at the office that best suits them at a given time based on the work assignment currently at hand. The most essential factor with creating an activity-based office is identifying the actual needs and ensuring that there are enough of the right types of spaces.
How Does an Activity-Based Office Benefit the Company?
A well-planned activity-based office has several advantages to both individual employees and the entire company:
- Work efficiency. The increasing prevalence of new types of office space solutions is a part of a broader transition in working, which includes the growing use of digital tools, mobile work and temporary co-working teams, among others. In an optimal activity-based work environment, every employee is able to work in an environment specifically designed to support the necessary work method most effectively.
- Ergonomics. Changing the work method and position regularly and moving to another workstation increases blood flow to the body and brain, which allows employees to stay more alert with better productivity.
- Organization culture. A good activity-based office also encourages social encounters, which promote the transfer of tacit knowledge, encourage innovation and improve communality at the workplace.
- Occupational well-being. A well-designed activity-based office considers the needs of different types of employees. Employees are able to select a work area based on the assignment at hand, which can lead to improved work efficiency. The mere increase in sense of autonomy has been found to have a positive effect on job satisfaction, occupational well-being and work performance, which in turn is evident as less absences, for example.
- Space efficiency. A modern work environment designed based on needs is effective for reducing unnecessary space, as the space is utilized more efficiently than in tradition open floor-plan offices.
- Cost savings. Increased space efficiency generates cost savings for the company, as wasted space is eliminated and the available space is put to use. An activity-based office saves up to 30 % of floor area when compared to a traditional solution.
- Competitiveness. The transition to an activity-based office is a positive change toward a more employee-oriented work environment. According to research, this increases employee commitment, which leads to increased competitiveness and profitability of the company.
It is Easy to Consider Different Types of Needs in an Activity-Based Office
Every company has different types of employees that have very different types of working methods and, therefore, different types of needs. In order to have an effective end result, a change in office space should always be preceded by analyzing and identifying the actual needs of the personnel.
Employees that spend a lot of time at the office need a quiet, personal workstation in order to work effectively. Others, in turn, spend a large share of their working hours away from their workstation – at cafeterias, meeting rooms or at a colleague’s workstation, among others. A majority of these people also want a workstation, a quiet space or the ability to interact with colleagues when at the office.
In order to be able to identify the actual needs of the work community, sufficient time should be allocated for identifying them, analyzing the collected data and planning the office space. When the groundwork is done well and employees are included in the change from the start, the end result is also more likely to be successful.
Workspace According to the Job Assignment
In order for working to be effective, an activity-based office should contain areas suitable for different functions in the right proportion.
Everyone sometimes wants a personal quiet space for working. Therefore, the office should have quiet areas suitable for work that requires concentration. These types of areas suitable for quiet working are best to be located as far as possible from travel routes or busy areas. Alternatively, they can also be created with furnishing or modular solutions.
It is good to allocate designated areas for collaboration. First, every office needs areas suitable for meetings, trainings and teamwork. Secondly, areas should be planned for spontaneous meetings of the work community. They should be located centrally and along travel routes, but should not excessively disrupt the work of others.
In addition to areas suitable for working, a work community should always have areas suitable for refreshment, where people can relax with a cup of coffee, talk with colleagues and first and foremost detach themselves momentarily from the daily work routines.
Would You Benefit from an Activity-based Office?
Many companies have benefited from activity-based offices – including Technopolis customers:
- CGI was able to eliminate a third of its office space with an activity-based office solution while also increasing employee satisfaction
- For Nordic Semiconductor, in turn, flexible office space facilitated rapid growth
So is an activity-based office suitable for all situations and all types of companies? Not necessarily – especially if making the mistake of chasing the latest trends and the workspace is not planned based on the actual needs of the company, reminds Research Director Peggie Rothe from research company Leesman, which specializes in work environments. The best end result is usually achieved if companies first focus on carefully identifying the actual needs of their employees.