Forget everything you (think you) know about the activity-based office!
IN RECENT YEARS THE ACTIVITY-BASED OFFICE HAS BEEN THE HOTTEST OFFICE TREND OF ALL.
For companies seeking to invest in workplace development and smart offices, the activity-based office has been the first choice. At the same time, though, critical voices have been raised. Are activity-based offices as good as they are claimed to be?
"Yes! But on the other hand there's a certain amount of confusion about what an activity-based office actually is. Many companies that think they're working in an activity-based way aren't actually doing so – and in that case it isn't surprising that it doesn't work," Axell thinks.
BUT LET'S BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING.
The term 'Activity Based Working' was coined as long as 20 years ago, by a Dutch company. They wanted to create an office that was customised to how the employees actually worked, instead of the employees having to adapt to a traditionally furnished office. So the basis for the activity-based office was the way of working, and not a ready-made interior design concept.
The rapid technological development at the beginning of the 21st century brought a paradigm shift. Suddenly it was possible to work anywhere at all, both inside and outside the office. Today, your work is no longer the place you go to, but the job you do. The idea of the activity-based office fits admirably into this development.
"But, as is always the case with new trends, a lot of people get involved and develop their own concepts. This means there have been many different ideas about what is activity-based. Some solutions don't correspond at all with the fundamental idea behind the activity-based office, namely to design the office to suit the way of working, and in that case you run the risk the result won't be good. Desksharing and flexi-offices are two classic examples," says Axell.
THESE ARE NOT ACTIVITY-BASED:
Here you simply start from the occupancy rate, with the aim of reducing the office area to a minimum. Usually there are a lot of desks that the employees are expected to share, and there is no alternative. The employees are stressed by not knowing if they have a place to work, and are often subject to constant interruptions in the form of conversations and phone calls.
In flexi-offices, the employees do not have fixed workplaces. The reduced area resulting from the smaller number of desks in proportion to the number of employees is sometimes exploited to construct conversation rooms, meeting rooms, meeting places and so on. Flexi-offices are often confused with activity-based offices because there are many areas to choose from, but the positive effect is lacking since the office is not designed fundamentally to suit the way the organisation works. Instead, the new office risks being a place of stress and dissatisfaction.
KINNARPS NEXT OFFICE®
Your new office – on your conditions
One of the fundamental prerequisites for success with an activity-based office is that the organisation is prepared for this way of working. And this is not always the case.
"It often depends on the company culture. In Holland and the Nordic countries, the activity-based way of working has taken hold quickly, while in many other parts of Europe the development is a little slower. My guess is that this is because in the Nordic countries we have flat organisations, so the transformation can go more smoothly. But it's actually the company culture that's the interesting thing. As soon as you have an organisation characterised by self-leadership and individuals with a high level of ability to take their own responsibility, activity-based becomes an alternative," says Kinnarps Concept Manager Henrik Axell.
OFFICE OF THE FUTURE
The lesson is that individual organisations and the people in them cannot be forced into ready-made concepts. Instead, we have to return to the original idea: to start from ways of working and needs. This is why Kinnarps has developed Next Office®, which is a specific action plan with the aim of creating the ideal office for every organisation. Next Office® is the route to your next office, and is built on six steps. The starting point is a thorough analysis of the organisation's and the individuals' ways of working.
"Doing your homework is the key to success. Steps 1-3 are an analysis phase where we jointly build the knowledge we need. Steps 4-6 are the implementation phase, where we choose the solution that suits the particular company or organisation," Axell explains.
The analysis forms the basis of how the office is then designed. Everything depends on what the employees need and how they work. If they use the phone a lot, there should be plenty of space to withdraw to for individual calls. If they work a lot in projects, there should be a lot of flexible project areas. It's about creating better ergonomics and energy, regardless of whether it's classical workplace ergonomics with furniture that's easy to adjust for different users, or designing a creative environment with good sound ergonomics and freedom for the individual.
Next Office is based on motivation and participation – from the company management and from the employees. Everyone is included in the process, and information is gathered by means of workshops, seminars and online questionnaires.
Because Next Office is based on the individual organisation, the method is equally suitable for municipal or state authorities, county councils or companies. It is the way of working that is superordinate to the physical workplace.
ADDED VALUE WITH KINNARPS NEXT OFFICE®
INCREASED COOPERATION IN A CREATIVE AND POSITIVE OFFICE ENVIRONMENT.
OPTIMISED WORK SURFACE, WHERE EVERY SQUARE METRE IS OPTIMALLY EXPLOITED.
THE OFFICE SUPPORTS DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES AND WAYS OF WORKING – BOTH TEAMS AND INDIVIDUALS.
THE OFFICE IS TAILOR-MADE FOR YOUR OPERATIONS, AND GIVES YOU A MORE PRODUCTIVE WORKING ENVIRONMENT AND MORE EFFICIENT PROCESSES.
THE OPPORTUNITY TO PERSONALLY CHOOSE A FUNCTIONAL LOCATION TO DO YOUR WORK PRODUCES A STRESS-FREE ENVIRONMENT. ERGONOMIC PRODUCTS IMPROVE THE WELLBEING OF EMPLOYEES.
AN OFFICE DESIGNED WITH THE EMPLOYEES AT THE CENTRE ATTRACTS NEW AND EXISTING SKILLS, AND STRENGTHENS THE COMPANY'S TRADEMARK.
– IT'S HAPPENING AT THE OFFICE!
For the first time, there are four generations of us working side by side A 20-year-old and a 70-year-old work in different ways, and we have to bear this in mind when we design our offices.
It's increasingly important for the company to make sustainable choices – in the office, as well – both for customers and for employees.
Wireless connection isa must in all workplaces – not only in the office.
Project work is becoming an increasingly popular way of working.
Employees are demanding greater influence over their workplace – where they work, and how.
The new mobility means that interruptions and distractions are an increasing problem at work. So the workplace has to be furnished so that the employees have the opportunity to work in peace – when they need to.