Activity-based-working, is it the future?

10 June 2020. Features.

As we consider the future of the workplace and what that looks like, during an interview on Ian King’s Sky News show our CEO JP emphasised that we need to protect the sanctuary of our homes.

While we expect to see working from home continue in part, there is still a desire and need for a central workplace.

A future-proofed workplace design that caters to the different needs and working styles of its employees will feature multiple working environments. This proven trend is a phenomenon known as Activity Based Working (ABW) - and it’s here to stay.

What does research say about ABW?

  • Around 80% of employees said productivity was influenced by whether they had access to a quiet room for them to focus on a task – Skanska and JLL.
  • 81% of employees at businesses that apply ABW said its company supports mobility and flexibility – Leesman.
  • 65% of workers reported that collaborative spaces designed for smaller groups would increase productivity – APQC.

The benefits of ABW

Creates multiple working environments under one roof

Working from home offers a comfortable and peaceful environment which can be great for focused time, however having employees separate for long periods of time can lead to a breakdown in communication, isolation and silos within teams. Creating multiple environments under one roof preserves and incubates company culture and makes for streamlined and often unplanned communication that leads to problem solving and those all-important lightbulb moments.

Increase productivity

ABW gives employees the chance to work in a way that suits them at that particular time.  Ever struggled to find an hour of quiet time in a traditional open plan office? Or can’t find space for an informal brainstorm with your team? Whether it’s less distractions or more cooperation, ABW caters for types of working and personality types.

Employee satisfaction

A lack of control and power at work was one of the leading causes of burnout at work according to a Clockify. Providing the freedom to work how and where an employee wants puts the ownership on them to deliver what they need to deliver in a way that suits them. It's all about trust and empowerment which both contribute to talent retention and acquisition and of course, engagement.

‘The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area.’ – Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft

Examples of spaces in ABW design


Booths provide a relaxed space for collaboration and a break from benched desking.

One man focus rooms

Excellent for introverts and those easily distracted who need to focus. These spaces are also excellent to join virtual meetings without disturbing colleagues.

Quiet library

A tech and distraction free space that employees can share with others so they don’t feel too isolated but provides the opportunity to focus.

Collaboration zones

Prevent grouping around desks by providing break out spaces and collaboration zones. We have introduced these in our own office on every floor.

Relaxed and formal meeting spaces

A variety in meeting room styles encourage different forms of collaboration and communication. Boardroom tables have a time and a place and sofa seating with soft furnishings are great spaces for creative thinking and interviews for businesses with a casual culture.

How do you know what working environments you need?

Our Strategy team are already working with clients to reshape their offices in anticipation of a return. Understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating the perfect working environment, our team create bespoke solutions tailored to you.

Through analysis of how your employees use your space, what percentage of the space is needed for varying sized meetings, and how your team collaborate with each other allow our team to understanding how your space should work for your people, and support your business strategy.

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