While the pro and anti-open plan workplace debate rages on, Activity Based Workplace (ABW) design grows in popularity. Work is quickly becoming a verb and not a noun. ABW design takes into consideration people, places and technology. Erik Veldhoen, a Dutch consultant and author of the book The Demise of the Office, coined the term “activity-based working.” He argues that workers should be given the choice of where to sit so that they may be able to structure their days more productively. Essentially ABW allows for collaborative, transparent, and flexible spaces and increases the bottom line for many companies by increasing productivity and remaining cost-effective. This innovative office design idea allows employees the freedom to work in the way that they personally find most effective. ABW allows for the open-floor design that promotes collaboration but it also provides places for uninterrupted, individual work. Here are some of the driving concepts behind ABW office design.


  2. PeoplePave the way for future workers – there is no I in team. The influx of the millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 1995) and the upcoming arrival of Generation Z (those born after 1995 to the mid-2000s) has helped to create a revolution in workplace design. Research shows that these tech-savvy folks are dubious of hierarchal structures and adding to that, for the first time ever, younger people are thought to be experts on something that the older generations have not yet mastered. Studies show that the younger generations have a disregard for privacy given the transparency of social networks and location aware applications. Traditional company lay-outs implied status by the size and privacy of offices. ABW environments have more glass partitions and less internal walls. While there are still private spaces, that sense of hierarchy has disappeared. Businesses are also starting to realize that their employees and their overall well-being is an investment. While most companies cannot afford an office gym or a treadmill desk, most companies are looking to help employees remain healthy and fit. ABW design includes adjustable desks that can be lowered or raised and stand-up workstations to reduce occupational sedentary time. Ergonomic furniture is now considered the norm and not the exception.


  4. Activity Based WorkplaceOne  size fits all just doesn’t fit anymore!  ABW creates a hybrid environment. Office design should provide workers with a multitude of choices depending on their particular activity, whether it is a formal meeting with clientele, an informal staff meeting, or something that requires intense focus or privacy. Activity-based workplaces may consist of small and large conference rooms. Huddle rooms (one for every twenty users) will be available for groups of three to four to brainstorm. Focus rooms for private activities (one for every four users) will be on hand for one-on-one discussions, conference calls, or phone conversations. ABW design also takes into consideration the mobile worker. There are touchdown or unassigned spaces that cater to people who are out of the office the majority of the day, visiting employees from other branches, or guests.


  6. TechnologyWork like a network and stay connected. Modern technology has allowed for people to work anywhere and at any time. Paper is no longer chaining people to their desks due to the invention of cloud computing. We no longer have to be physically present in meetings or boardrooms due to mobile devices. In activity-based workplace design, workstations are equipped with the necessary technology to complete the task at hand. Conference rooms have videoconferencing technology and all rooms have Wi-Fi and multi-media capabilities. Activity-based workplace design rejects the idea of the traditional desk and embraces the notion of freedom and flexibility that modern technology provides.

There are several competitive advantages for businesses that adapt an ABW design model. Productivity and collaboration is sure to increase. People can work faster and smarter – not harder. These types of environments will attract the younger generations enabling companies to attract and retain new talent. It is cost-effective because it allows organizations to prepare for growth without increasing the physical space of their offices. Contact us for help modernizing your office and stay competitive in this increasingly cutthroat market.