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Is an activity-based workplace right for your company?

Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 by Abby Draper

Group of women working together at a table and smiling.

By Abigail Draper, OSCPA communication and engagement manager

Robin, a company that developed meeting room and desk scheduling tools, defines activity-based work as, “The practice of providing employees with a choice of office settings for a variety of tasks and activities throughout the workday.”

The company describes “hot desking” as switching desks and workspaces throughout the day and week based on needs and availability.

What are the benefits of an activity-based workplace?

Activity-based workplaces can increase collaboration and productivity. Harvard Business Review says not only a flexible work schedule but a flexible workspace make employees happier, productive, engaged and willing to stay and advocate for the company.

Also, when employees are moving around the office throughout the day, they have the opportunity to speak with others they may not see if they had a stationary workspace. An activity-based workplace should include several rooms and meeting spaces to promote idea sharing and collaboration.

Sharing workspaces saves money on office space. “After adopting activity-based working, workplace design firm Oktra was able to eliminate 30% of desks.” iOffice stated. If there are a variety of places to work (including couches, cubbies, meeting rooms and desks) that everyone shares, then there is no need for traditional desks for each employee. This means you can save money on furniture and even rent a smaller office!

Is there a downside to this type of workplace?

According to CareerOne, it may take some time for the benefits of activity-based work environments to become apparent. For example, purchasing new furniture and technology to support the new office layout may be costly upfront, but will end up saving money in the long-run. You may also have to hire new staff as well, or even a professional to facilitate the office changes.

If you are transitioning from a traditional work setting to an activity-based one, there are a lot of things that can go wrong if it is not explained or executed properly (i.e. employee’s feeling forced to do something they do not want to or ones ignoring the new layout altogether). At KPMG’s Sydney office, they ran a pilot of the new workspace on one floor before implementing it throughout the company. This way, they were able to work out some of the kinks before expanding to the rest of the building.

Activity-based offices may be the future of workplaces. According to a study by Deloitte, “84% of millennials report some degree of flexible working in their organizations” and that’s what they prefer. This includes flexible time, role, recruitment and location.

It is important, though, to determine whether or not this major change is right for your company and if so, when the appropriate time is to roll it out.


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