A new workspace model is gaining traction as a cost-effective, efficient solution to employee ennui.
Activity-based work is a hot new trend with staying power. By providing flexible workspace designs that enable workers to choose workstations for various tasks, activity-based work environments are creating more agile workforces and giving employees more control over their daily activities. In fact, according to one source, 98% of highly satisfied employees work at an organization where they are free to move around during the day.
In an activity-based environment, workers don’t have specific workstations and can choose one that best meets their needs for certain tasks. For instance, nurses could choose quiet spaces for phone conversations with physicians where accurate note-taking requires them to be free from distractions and noise.
Activity-based work may not be the answer for every employee or organization. However, it is growing in popularity. In one study, nearly 70% of individuals claimed that an activity-based workspace increases productivity; and two-thirds said it makes their work more stimulating. Among other benefits of activity-based work:
- It decreases sedentary time and increases physical activity.
- It encourages interaction and teamwork between employees at all levels.
- Research suggests that by positively impacting mental, physical, and social wellbeing, it saves money on healthcare-related costs and absenteeisms.
- Shared spaces enable companies to save money on equipment such as desks, desktop computers, and phones.
Of course, this trend is not without some drawbacks. For instance, activity-based workspaces require some planning and coordination. Employees will need to be able to book certain workstations on a first-come, first-served basis; and you will need to decide when one person’s needs might outweigh another’s.
However, if activity-based work is appealing for your organization, take some steps to help ensure its success:
- Do your research. Find out what other organizations have done. What challenges did they face? Did they experience any unexpected costs? In retrospect, what would they do differently?
- Consider hiring a consultant. A workspace design specialist can help you determine what features are most appropriate for your company. Spending money upfront for this could prevent some extra expenses and headaches later.
- Get organizational buy-in. Involve everyone who will be affected in planning and decision-making. Conduct some surveys, and consider putting together a committee with broad representation from all departments, levels, and disciplines.
- Think before you act. Of course, you don’t want to make a change for change sake. Take the time to weigh the pros and cons. Will it enable/encourage your teams to be more productive? Will it help you attract more and/or better workers? Will you lose any employees if you make this change? Will any savings later on make the initial investment worthwhile?
Exploring the possibility of activity-based workspace enables everyone to think about what they want and need to do their jobs and promote the organization’s mission and culture. Even if you don’t move forward with this change, discussions about it can be enlightening and informative.