Indeed, it was a Dutch consultant, ErikVeldhoen who coined the term ‘activity-based working’ in his book TheArt of Working. He would work withInterpolis, one of the largest insurance companies in the Netherlands toimplement ABW throughout their offices. After understanding the flexibility andfreedom it gave their employees, Interpolis got rid of their fixed desks andencouraged managers to give their teams complete autonomy to choose when andwhere they worked, and for how long.
It was a success – but how does it supportan office exactly?
How can an office design support activity-based working?
Today’s activity-based office designs mix existing and emerginghardware to create flexible workplaces, designed specifically to enhance workperformance or ambience. To provide an example; Wi-Fi, laptops and mobiledevices allow employees to move around and access everything they need from theserver wherever they need to. This flexibility can provide the business withideas on the different ways they can 'zone' their office; providing quietspaces for solo working, a massive roundtable for people to collaborate, andeverything else in between.
Healthand wellbeing can be catered for too; and not just through the rolling out ofsanitation stations or desk screens. Gyms, kitchens and relaxation areas can beincluded in the zoned office spaces to give people somewhere to take a breakfrom their desk to recharge or keep fit.
Evenbefore the pandemic shone a light on wellness in work, many firms included adedicated breakout room in their office designs. These can be fitted out with anything fromsoft furnishings, televisions, games…anything that can help hardworkingemployees to refocus their minds. There is no end to thetypes of zones that a workplace can have – but they need to be clear anddistinct from one another. So how can this be achieved?