Are Activity Based Workstations the Future of Office Design?
When looking back at the evolution of office design, it is clear we have come a long way from the office cubicles of the Modernist era. Companies in Sydney, and throughout the world, are continuously striving to improve the wellbeing of their employees and to optimise productivity. With 50% of all employees complaining about an uninspiring work environment, 25% of CEOs will be looking at transforming their traditional corporate designs to Activity Based Working (ABW) layouts within the next two years.
On a typical day, we are filled with a broad spectrum of tasks, which require us to think creatively, collaborate with others and work independently. The planning and design of an ABW space, supports a variety of workplace activities, enabling you to choose your own desk or area to complete the task.
Benefits of Activity Based Workplaces
By providing a diversity of space, employees are more likely to perform at their best, increasing business efficiencies in the process. As employees are able to choose their work stations, a much more enjoyable workplace is created, as they feel empowered and trusted.
Other advantages include:
- Increased collaboration amongst employees.
- Fostering of a variety of workplace activities.
- The amount of office space required is minimised by up to 30%.
- Significant reductions in clutter and paper usage.
Potential Resistance to Change
While the open plan office is designed to improve collaboration and communication, it may not be suitable for all offices. Over 42,000 office employees in Australia, the US, Finland and Canada were surveyed to identify the benefits and cons of an ABW office. Results surprisingly indicated that a majority of people in open plan offices were less satisfied than those in traditional office layouts due to disruptive noise and lack of privacy.
IT Support for Mobility and Collaboration
In order to successfully implement activity based workstations, technology and a new set of business processes are vital. A qualified IT team should be readily available to enable employees to work anywhere and anytime through a full wireless network, laptops and mobile telephone system. In combination to an IT strategy, an effective change management program to educate employees of the benefits of ABW will also ensure easier adoption by employees.
It is crucial that the nature of the company’s jobs are taken into consideration when deciding the workstations layout. If a lot of teamwork is required, an open space is ideal. If silence and concentration is necessary, then employees should have the option of working in a semi enclosed area to control the noise from distracting. The main focus of an activity based work environment is to offer employees the freedom of choice to build an innovative and successful workplace.
Have you considered how an ABW space may influence the office environment in your workplace?