There’s a native trend at the workplace. Activity Based Working.

It’s a system of fluid workstations and trendy furniture, where employees can shake up their working location depending on their mood or activities. It’s a revolt against traditional desk assignments and senior oversight.

The promises were initially endless; experts predicted everything from better productivity to uber-happy employees. But were they right? The biggest challenge is a smooth transition. It’s tough to sell pre-millennials on ditching their familiar desk and cubicle. It’s been the coalface of their corporate identity for decades. 

So here are 3 things to consider before you make the big move, as well as some proven tips to keep it on track.

#1:Teamwork vs. Individual Freedom

The lifeblood of any office design is choosing between teamwork or individual freedom. Make sure you choose right, as it’ll guide your entire setup.

Every workplace needs teamwork, but there’s nothing wrong with fostering your stars and letting them work alone. Great individuals are hard to find, and they’re a lot better than a crowd of not-so-greats.

But every business is different. Smaller companies and start-ups rely more on teamwork. They don’t have the budget for top talent or dedicated staff manning every role. They need to work together.

Activity-based working can cater for either approach as long as you do it right and include:

  • Single workstations - to endorse individual stardom. Skilled employees usually work better alone, in their own space, away from the collective chaos. It’s the same way Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates changed the world, one line of code at a time.
  • Dedicated focus areas - that are reserved for quiet work. Working alone means being away from the daily noise grind too.  
  • Collaborative furniture - to promote teamwork This lets employees work face-to-face, grinding away on important deadlines together. You can also set the vibe with dedicated meeting booths.
  • Kitchen and break room - Stylish lunch tables also encourage friendly mingling, turning a silent break room into a lively place of discussion and harmony

 

#2:Your Industry

Every industry has its nuance. Those inherent beliefs which dictate the norm. Don’t ignore yours when making the switch to activity-based working.

Some clients may not bite the idea of an activity based office, at least not right away. You’ll need to brief them on the changes and prepare for a period of adjustment. 

Many firms are taking the leap of faith, such as RESCON Builders. Topaz helped the granny flat giants who outgrew their original workspace, which was plagued by noisy tradesman and project managers.

To calm the brew between white and blue collars, they migrated to a new office with an ABW design, reaping similar benefits.

As with all things, timing is key. Your industry may not be ready for activity based working, or it could be the missing link to tidy growth.

 

#3: Office Size & Location

Activity based working is all about smart separation. You’ll need to brace yourself for swarms of employees migrating from one space to another as their workload changes.

A healthy divide between meeting booths and focus areas is critical as well. 

Foremost, make sure your office can safely accommodate the change. More mobility can become a hotbed for trips and falls, especially if your office is too cramped.  

While there’s no universal size guide for activity based working, success is often capped by your own walls. If you can’t maintain a safe distance between different areas, or accommodate a steady flow of people moving around, your gains will suffer. You could also end up with more work-cover claims due to accidents.

You’ll also need to factor in the exact location of your office. Noisy surroundings are equally disruptive and can turn a focus area into an audial nightmare.

If you’re moving to a new premise, look for privacy and seclusion, preferably on a higher floor. That’ll let you use every part of the office freely without worrying about outside distractions.    

Adequate sunlight also goes a long way to nurturing productivity. Research shows natural exposure helps employees concentrate better. The biggest mistake we see is precious window views being blocked by curtains or cramped furniture.

 

Wrap Up

Don’t get caught up in the identity-debate over activity based working. It probably won’t end anytime soon and waiting for the perfect time is a path to nowhere.

There’s a host of benefits to enjoy if you make the switch, so long as you do it right. A simple blend of stylish furniture, brave timing, and a sensible premise is all you need. It’s loose change compared to the potential for added growth.

There are transition agencies that can help you take the right steps, but your furniture supplier is often the best place to start. They can discuss the right fit for your office and save you from the common pitfalls of redesign – that’s what we do at Topaz, at least.

 

By: Dom Penava