In the modern work environment, many employees have complained about the stifling, restrictive influence created by the rigid, cubicle-based layout. Employers, recognising the value of improved workforce morale and productivity, have tried different ways to respond and transform the workplace into a setting conducive to creativity and collaboration.
If you’re consulting with office refurbishment firms to undertake improvements, consider utilising one of the latest trends influencing contemporary design — activity-based working. Under this guiding principle, the workplace affords greater flexibility while avoiding the excessively loose (and sometimes disruptive) flow within an open layout. Here are some of the key factors to successfully implementing an activity-based design in your work environment.
Leading towards different tasks
When the workplace insists on allocating the same resources — in terms of space and equipment — to workers who often have different tasks and functions, the underlying signal this sends is that being unique doesn’t matter. The company doesn’t recognise or embrace diversity, and how well you perform at a specialised job isn’t relevant.
On the other extreme, design can be too open-ended. Often, open-office layouts make it difficult for employees to concentrate on a task at hand and even require more willpower and communication from them to collaborate effectively.
Activity-based design accommodates different roles but also simplifies decisions by leading people towards specific functions. It’s like having a choice of different presets when you get to work. You don’t have to put too much thought into it — pick a space suited to what you’ll be doing for the day and immediately get into the flow.
Varying pace and ambience
Activity-based design starts with considering the various daily needs and functions of the team’s members — areas for small meetings, entertaining clients, focused learning, taking calls or even sharing meals and breaks. However, it’s also essential to create variations along the spectrum of pace and ambience in these settings.
Some people simply perform better with white noise in the background, akin to the productivity-boosting effect of a coffee shop or co-working space. Others, however, need peace and quiet to focus better.
Beyond individual preferences, different tasks also benefit more or less from a high-energy or low-energy environment. Mixing soundproof pods with lounge areas where people can mingle and collaborate naturally, and adding other areas in between this range of energy levels will let employees find their sweet spot for productivity each day at work.
Every schoolchild eventually comes to learn that the library is not a place where noise or commotion is appreciated. The immediate shushing and stern glances by a watchful librarian, as well as conspicuously posted signs reminding everyone to observe silence, provide constant reinforcement and teach kids that a library is a place for quiet and concentration.
Similarly, when you implement an activity-based design, it may be necessary to reinforce the proper behaviours to set the right expectations and achieve the intended results. Employers can take the lead in encouraging daily open collaboration, for instance, by using the lounge area instead of huddle rooms for most meetings and group discussions. Gradually, employees will come to associate specific areas and moods with the desired behaviours, enhancing the design’s positive influence.
Finding the right balance between specific functions and accommodating flexibility in the workplace is what activity-based design strives to achieve. Using these tips, you can make the most of your next renovation and transform the workplace into an environment for optimal collaboration and productivity.