Activity-Based Working: The workspace and furniture trends you need to know about

Anyone who has bought or looked at office furniture in the past couple of years will have heard about ‘activity-based working’  – a design and business strategy that gives employees a choice of spaces to work in. But what are the major trends activity-based working will drive over the next 5-10 years? And how can companies best take advantage of them?

Different spaces for different tasks

Back in the day, an office only had two types of work areas: dedicated desks for solo work and meeting rooms for collaboration.

Activity-based working recognises that today’s workers perform a wide variety of intellectual tasks and need an equally wide selection of workspaces. That’s why you’ll see a number of new spaces popping up in offices over the next 5–10 years, including:

  • Focus pods – Quiet, compact rooms where employees can perform solo work without distractions
  • Enclaves – Small private or semi-private zones for 2–4 person meetings
  • Assembly areas – Large event spaces for presentations to a whole division or company
  • Community spaces – Shared spaces such as lunch areas, chill-out zones and picnic tables. These encourage spontaneous interactions between staff and create a strong sense of community.

Empowering employees

One of the big changes in education over the past two decades has been the advent of self-directed learning (SDL). Essentially, SDL means giving students the tools and opportunities to learn in the way that works best for them. The SDL concept has effectively been embraced by organisations, and is reflected in the wide variety of work areas offered now through by activity-based working.

Introverts work differently to extroverts. Baby boomers and Gen Xers work differently to millennials. This makes sense, when you consider the shift in learning styles through the past 20 years. Younger people are leaving school educated with an SDL mindset, and will be most comfortable working in a similar environment.

Modern companies are starting to see these differences as assets and are allowing staff members work wherever they are happiest and most productive. This helps those companies attract and retain better staff, which in turn leads to better performance and drive creativity within their organisations.

Needs-driven workspace design

Many organisations don’t see the full advantages of activity-based working because the way they choose their office furniture is fundamentally backwards.

When designing or renovating an office, most companies scour the market for products, select ones that they think will work and then try to fit them into their existing space. Sometimes that works out for them, but often it doesn’t.

The problem is that most organisations choose office furniture by starting with the products, rather than their needs.

At OfficePace, we’re turning the existing model on its head by putting the individual needs of staff and each organisation at the centre of the process.

Before making any product suggestions, we sit down with the client to understand their individual needs and challenges. Then our furniture experts draw on their up-to-date industry knowledge to design and develop custom products that meet those needs.

Custom furniture can be expensive, but our agile approach and Australian-based manufacturers mean tailor-made products usually come in cheaper than off-the-shelf solutions.

How can businesses take advantage of these trends?

By talking to an expert. Someone who knows the furniture industry inside out, attends national and international conferences on workspace design and organisational culture, and will design a solution around your needs, not whatever product brings them the most profit.

For more information on OfficePace’s unique approach to furniture design, visit officepace.com.au.

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