Do Activity-Based Workspaces Support The Way You Work?

Your laptop is powerful and practically weightless. All the tools and documents you could ever need are in the cloud. There’s WiFi everywhere. So why are you chained to your desk all day? Could you transform your work life overnight, just by moving your office furniture around? A group of forward-thinking office designers thinks so, and they’ve persuaded executives around the world to overhaul their old offices and create activity-based workspaces. From stunning new projects in London and Amsterdam all the way to the USCF right here in California, the Activity-Based Workspace movement has taken hold.

What is the Activity-Based Workspace movement?

Instead of forcing people to work in offices or cubicles, the idea is that you create work spaces to support various work activities. Someone who needs to focus might head to a sound-proof cubby, while someone who needs to hash out a strategy with a colleague my go to a quiet spot for a one-on-one consult. Groups that need to engage in creative brainstorming will gather in spaces with couches and white boards, and perhaps with a video screen for remote attendees.

With activity-based workspaces, you’re no longer a solitary prisoner confined to your own office. Instead, you’re free to roam from desk to sofa to the office café, which are all a part of your shared office environment.


Boost efficiency at work.

Workplace efficiency experts at Leesman have created a unique measure of workplace efficiency called the Leesman Index, and they recently issued a landmark study on Activity-Based Workspaces. Researchers found that knowledge workers who wholeheartedly adopted the activity-based workplace scored nearly 72 on the index, significantly higher than those who camped out at their desks, who scored just shy of 60.

The idea for activity-based workspaces was born in the 1970s, but it didn’t become a reality until the early 1990s when designers in London and Amsterdam created the first real-world offices using this model. In 1995, Dutch workplace strategist Erik Veldhoen, published the first book about activity-based workspaces, called “The Demise of the Office.” Today, his company works with organizations to adopt the model as “a catalyst for organizations to rethink the way they work.”

Activity Based Workspaces - Productive Workplaces

Creating your activity-based workspace.

Creating an activity-based workspace really boils down to two things: studying how your team really works, and then partnering with a trusted commercial moving company to reconfigure your office space so that it nurtures and supports existing work processes. Here are some tips to get you started:
  • Create a “financial business plan” for your office environment, and determine the potential return on your investment in an ABW office.
  • Consider an Occupancy and Utilization Study to find out what you team is doing when they’re not at their desks.
  • Be sure to understand the misconceptions about ABW, and know what it is not.

Looking for some inspiration on this side of the pond? The University of California at San Francisco opened Mission Hall in 2014, the first school building to use the activity-based workspace concepts. The university has since set up a task force to study the impacts of this new workplace environment, and has committed to constructing additional, activity-based workspaces going forward. They’re saving money, too.


Healthy, engaged and empowered employees.

In the end, the Leesman report says a well-designed Activity-Based Workspace can help to create healthier, more engaged and empowered employees, along with stronger collaboration and better on-the-job learning. Businesses with flexible office infrastructure are nimbler, too, and can more easily adapt to change. It’s a modern solution for the way we work today.

Work smarter with activity-based workspaces.

Corovan has been helping California companies reconfigure workplaces for more than 65 years. Ready to transform your workspace? We’re here to help.

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