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Activity based workspace
Office of the future

Why activity-based workspaces are on the rise

"Open office plans are as bad as you thought." - The Washington Post
"Open plan, not working." – The Research Whisperer
"The open-office concept is dead." – Entrepreneur

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you’ll have seen many similar headlines like the ones above lamenting the death of the open office. But if this really is the case, and open offices are as bad as the media seem to indicate, then why does 70 per cent of U.S. offices still have an open floor plan?

BOOQED is on the case!

As it turns out, the open office design itself isn’t the issue. Rather, it’s how people use it. When workplace managers employ an open workspace without providing employees with a choice of spaces specific to various workplace activities, individuals are ‘forced’ to undertake all of their work within a fixed setting that isn’t necessarily the most conducive to that particular activity. For example, your sales team wants to host a client meeting but your office lacks meeting rooms. What can they do, take the meeting in a noisy reception area, crowd into a tiny cubicle or head outside the office to find a table at a cafe? All are less than ideal options.

This is where activity-based workspaces (ABWs) comes in.

Activity based workspace meeting room and meeting booth
Source: Amos Beech

What is an activity based workspace?

An activity based workspace consists of different zones designed for specific tasks. They can include:

  • A team desking area consisting of fixed seating and/or hot desks. The space is communal, but created to allow for individual work such as emails, admin and getting general work tasks done.
  • Individual focus rooms or pods, a small, self-contained, quiet space designed for phone calls, virtual meetings and tasks that require deep concentration.
  • Huddle rooms – a small meeting room equipped with a table, chairs, whiteboards, and audio, video and display software. Available for one person or small groups of three to four as a collaboration space or casual meeting room.
  • Small and large conference rooms which have to be reserved in advance, specifically for formal meetings with external visitors and clients.
  • Lounge area or office kitchen. A social space for casual gatherings, lunch breaks or relaxation.

The advantages of an activity based workspace

When you take an employee-focused approach to designing your office and adopt ABWs, you can benefit from:

  • Cost savings for: rent, utilities, maintenance costs, office supplies, etc.
  • Increased employee collaboration, satisfaction, productivity and focus.
  • Improved talent recruitment and retention.
  • A stronger workplace culture.
  • More efficient use of office facilities.

Maybe it sounds too good to be true, but you don’t have to just take our word for it. Here are some statistics that support the switch to activity-based working:

  • According to APQC, 65 per cent of respondents noted that providing more designated spaces for small-group collaboration and conversation would increase productivity.
  • A study by Dale’s Office Interiors found that one in five office workers agree that having a space to relax at work is key to increasing productivity. 72 per cent said dedicated soundproof spaces to make phone calls or focus would improve productivity.
  • After adopting an ABW approach, British utility company National Grid’s saw their operational costs reduced by up to US$14m.

So, there you have it. Activity based workspaces that provide employees with a choice of settings might just be the cure to the open office.

Source: E-Architect

But before you get started, ask yourself:


Are your employees ready for an ABW?


Participation is key for a successful activity-based workspace. All employees have to be on board and understand how the model works in order for it to run smoothly. It might take some adjustments to prepare your team for the transition, but it’s worth the time and effort.


Is your ABW tailored to your workforce?


While there are a few essential components that make up your typical ABW, every office is different. You need to look at how your employees work in order to create the right activity zones for your particular office and ensure it truly meets the needs of its users.


Do you have the right technology to support your ABW?


In addition to having the physical space that makes up an activity-based workspace, you need to have the right technology as well. Your office manager should be able to review how the spaces are being used, and employees need to easily book the various rooms or workspaces from their desktop or mobile device.


Introducing BOOQED’s new spatial management tool, QUBIC. This workspace solution allows your employees to easily book an appropriate space that meets their needs and lets you optimize every square inch of your workspace! With the right technologies in place, you can truly maximize the benefits of your activity-based workspace.


And if you need some help creating your activity-based workspace, feel free to reach out! We’d be delighted to help.

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