How ABW is reflected in office design


What are the benefits of activity-based working?

Activity based working (ABW) encourages businesses to rethink the way their staff work. It’s the idea that people perform different activities in different work settings. ABW recognises that workers need a combination of the right technology and culture to work effectively and productively.

It’s a concept that can be incorporated into every aspect of an organisation, including the design and layout of their workplace.

Is your office ready for activity based working?

If you’re faced with the challenge of appealing to many different employee needs, activity based working could solve a lot of the issues you face on a daily basis. By having a variety of work settings such as hot desks, informal booths and standing desks, you’ll encourage employees to come together as a team and collaborate.

The right mixture of private and open spaces will free up staff to use their workplace in the way that suits them best.

When employees become unshackled from the constraints of a traditional desk, they’ll find the most productive way to work based on their own individual needs.

The right balance

There’s a tendency to think that activity based working should focus more on collaborative spaces and open areas. However, there must be a degree of flexibility in order for diverse teams to adapt their allocated home zones to suit their needs. In a research piece by global office furniture manufacturer, Steelcase, researchers found that the harder people work collaboratively, the more important it was for them to also have some time alone.

It’s important to offer a selection of creative, collaborative work settings, from formal hot desks to more relaxed soft seating and maybe even a ball pit! But zones should also offer more enclosed, private spaces.

In open-plan offices where this becomes difficult, enclosed pods or areas with acoustic, noise-reducing panels can give staff some much-needed privacy. A healthy mixture of collaborative and private spaces will allow people to organise their workflow in a more productive way, avoiding interruptions and removing stress.

Reshaping the office as we know it

Embracing activity based working can sometimes be a hard sell.

Management must come to terms with freeing up their staff to choose their own space. More structured businesses might take a while to accept this looser, some would say chaotic working style.

There’s also a chance that staff won’t like the idea of giving up their own desk since we have a habit of nesting! Something that can help to overcome this is the use of improved office furniture.

Hot desks don’t seem quite so daunting when the task chairs are a lot more ergonomically designed. And it’s surprising how many more meetings will take place when there’s a bright, spacious break out area with sofas and armchairs to have it in.

The benefits far outweigh any challenges that arise. In fact, many businesses that opt for activity based working notice:

  • Improved work-life balance

  • Greater employee satisfaction

  • Improved employee wellbeing

  • Increased efficiency

Stand up (and move around) for ABW

With the added option of adjustable standing desks, employees can stretch their legs while they work. Some organisations have even experimented with treadmill desks!

Working with the right office design specialists, businesses can not only improve the aesthetics of their workplace but also start to make a positive impact on productivity and efficiency. By highlighting the different behaviour that employees exhibit in the workplace, you can create an environment that provides them with the spaces they need to do their jobs effectively. It’s a win-win situation.

This is a guest post by Paramount Interiors. Paramount Interiors is one of the UK’s leading office design and fit-out companies, specialising in creating workplaces that improve productivity and encourage collaboration. We asked them to take a look at how activity-based working can be reflected in the design of a workplace.


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