The Value of Activity-Based Workstations in the Digital Workplace

October 20, 2017

How to work in the right place for each task

Activity-based working (ABW) is a growing trend in global corporations. Simply put, in an activity-based workplace, employees do not have assigned desks or offices. Instead, they choose the type of workstation they need at any given time, based on the tasks they need to perform.

ABW is agile and collaborative. Employees are free to move about the office, making choices about how, when, and where they work. Now that technology allows employees to be completely mobile within the digital workplace, it is easier than ever to redesign the office space for ABW. When done right, ABW should result in lower costs, greater productivity, and increased innovation.

Benefits of activity-based working

Having the right type of workstation for the type of task you are working on can increase employee productivity. In open, team-based workstations, it is easier to collaborate and share ideas. In quiet workstations, employees can concentrate without distractions. Research by Telsyte found that ABW adds value in 61% of organizations that adopt it and that employees practicing ABW are 16% more productive.

ABW can improve the physical health of your employees by getting them up and moving around the workplace. Many studies demonstrate the health hazards of remaining sedentary and seated all day.

Office space is often the second largest cost for employers and up to 40% of offices are empty at any given time. ABW has the ability to dramatically shrink the real estate needed for your workforce, lowering costs and reducing your company’s environmental footprint.

10 types of activity-based workstations for the digital workplace

Successful environments for ABW need to have a variety of workstations available for employees. Types of workstations include:

  1. Meeting rooms. Places for private meetings with teams or larger groups. Most companies need several meeting rooms of different sizes.
  2. Lounge. This is a social space for employees to relax and talk. A lounge should feature a casual design and feel more like home, with comfortable furnishings such as couches.
  3. Canteen. This social space enables employees to share a meal together. Some companies have food service options while others may simply provide a comfortable space furnished with dining tables and chairs.
  4. Private booths or enclaves. When two people need to speak privately, a small booth or enclave, furnished with seating, creates a nice space and allows meeting rooms to remain open for larger groups.
  5. Standing zone. These are common areas without furniture for people to hold brief conversations or quick, ad-hoc meetings that do not require privacy.
  6. Clusters of desks. Teams can collaborate more effectively if they are working in open spaces. Place clusters of open desks together in each team zone.
  7. Open team table. For team meetings that don’t require privacy, a table in the midst of the team area suits the task.
  8. Standing desks. Research shows that alternating standing and sitting is healthier than sitting all day.
  9. Quiet desk. Everyone needs a quiet place to concentrate from time to time. Quiet desks provide a distraction-free environment for focus.
  10. Visitor desk. This space accommodates visitors who aren’t normally part of the ABW environment—perhaps an outside consultant or remote employee.

Supply and demand will dictate how many of each workstation will be built into each office environment. Thoughtful planning often involves creating work zones, so that the office feels a bit like neighborhoods. The zones themselves can be personalized and decorated by the teams that occupy them. This provides the teams with greater cohesion and a sense of ownership over the zone, since they will no longer have dedicated desks or offices.

The key to successful ABW design: Understanding utilization

Building out new work zones and developing ABW workstations requires a comprehensive understanding of how employees are using the existing spaces. Asure Software’s Workplace Utilization solutions can help you gain a full understanding of how your space is utilized, so you can develop the most effective designs for ABW.