How Serviced Offices Support Activity-Based Working

A woman with red hair works on a laptop in a space that looks like a coffee shop

Activity-based working: is it a meaningless buzzword or an amazing way to boost productivity and wellbeing in your workplace? 

While some critics sneer at the concept of ABW, we're here to show you that it can have real benefits when applied to your workplace. Let's take a closer look at ABW, its many benefits, how you can apply it in your workplace, and how serviced office spaces facilitate this flexible work model.

What is activity-based working?

Activity-based working proposes that different activities such as individual focus work, collaborative activities like brainstorming or presentations, and relaxation are better suited to different physical spaces and digital work environments. As workers perform different activities throughout their working day, they can choose different locations and working styles to best suit the activity at hand. 

The history of activity-based working began in the late 1960s when designer Robert Propst proposed an 'action office' with modular furniture and moveable partitions, allowing people to adapt the layout of the space and the degree of privacy based on the type of work they were doing. His design was based on his research into the way people worked in the traditional office, where he found that the space 'saps vitality, blocks talent [and] frustrates accomplishment'. 

Another early thinker in activity-based working was architect Robert Luchetti, whose designs involved different locations that workers could use for different activities. While the ideas of these two Roberts were influential in office design, it was consultant Erik Veldhoen who coined the term 'activity-based working' and put it into action through Veldhoen + Company. 

Benefits of activity-based working

So, is activity-based working an empty buzzword or a revolutionary way of working? We personally see activity-based working as a great way to bring increased flexibility and productivity to a work environment. Despite all the jargon and acronyms that are sometimes associated with the concept of ABW, the central idea that employees should be able to adapt their environments and working style to the type of work they need to do is a very solid one.

To explain, let's take a closer look at some of the benefits of ABW.

Empowers employees to be more productive

By offering workers the autonomy and independence to adapt their work environment to their tasks, they are able to work in the ways that are most productive for them. This means better performance from your workers and a greater sense of engagement and ownership over their work.

Flexibility improves employee satisfaction and wellbeing

Greater control over how and where they work can be beneficial to employees' wellbeing, allowing them to move to quiet areas where they feel more able to focus on work or move office furniture to create better collaborative spaces. With the opportunity to work in ways that are most productive and least stressful to them, employees can enjoy greater wellbeing at work. 

Increases creativity

With a range of work environments on offer, employees can choose the spaces that best stimulate their creativity. Choosing a collaborative brainstorming area with comfy seating and whiteboards or a quiet nook for solo reflecting means that employees can come up with better ideas and solutions to problems. 

Encourages collaboration and teamwork

With particular parts of your office space dedicated to collaborative work, employees are more able to bounce ideas off each other or come up with creative solutions together. While traditional open-plan offices may discourage ideation sessions or collaborative problem-solving because of a lack of privacy, and meeting rooms may feel too formal, activity-based working allows these semi-private spaces where team members feel comfortable working together. 

What are serviced offices?

Serviced offices are a type of flexible office space that has exploded in popularity in recent years. In contrast to a traditional office lease, serviced offices are all-inclusive offices managed by a provider, with all costs such as rent, insurance, cleaning, maintenance, security, front of house services, and business rates all covered by one single monthly payment. These offices are fully kitted out with desks, chairs, high-speed Wi-Fi, and everything else your team needs to start working straight away, so they can offer almost immediate move-ins. 

While serviced offices are private office spaces, they often share some facilities with the other businesses that rent offices in the building. For example, there may be communal break-out areas and kitchens, shared gardens or roof terraces, and bookable meeting rooms and phone booths. Therefore, serviced offices are a cost-effective way to access a great private office with a range of shared additional facilities at a fraction of the price of a traditional office contract.

How serviced offices enable ABW

So, how exactly does all this relate back to activity-based working? In short, serviced offices are ideal workspaces for applying the principles of activity-based working to your organisation. Unlike traditional offices with stuffy cubicles or uninspiring open-plan layouts, serviced offices provide a range of different types of spaces so your team members can easily move between different workstations throughout the day, adapting their location and behaviours to the type of work they need to do. 

Different types of spaces that services offices provide to support activity-based working include:

  • Private offices: With a mix of desks and comfy seating, the layout of your private office is up to you to adapt to your employees' work style. You might include an area for quiet, focused work, a chatty corner for informal collaboration and discussion, and phone booths for conferencing and digital collaboration. 
  • Meeting rooms: Providing a more quiet and private setting for meetings and ideation sessions, meeting rooms are often kitted out with whiteboards and screens to make it easier to visualise your work. Meeting rooms may be booked out by the whole team or by small groups who need a space to focus on a project or give presentations.
  • Break-out and communal areas: Casual informal spaces like kitchens, cafes, and comfy lunch areas aren't just for chilling out – some employees work well with a buzzy coffee shop-style environment so the communal areas make a great place for them to work – maybe with a coffee or snack beside them too!
  • Gardens or terraces: Providing a mix of peaceful and calming spaces ideal for quiet focused work or more sociable areas for informal interactions, gardens and terrace spaces are a great amenity for flexible activity-based working.
  • Quiet or meditation rooms: Many serviced offices include purpose-built quiet or meditation rooms, allowing employees to chill out and reset by taking time away from their desks. This flexibility helps employees put their wellness first and reduce their stress. 

In comparison to a traditional office lease where it may be expensive to rent an office space with all these amenities like terraces, cafes, and meditation rooms, serviced offices provide cost-effective access to amazing workspaces with a wide range of facilities your team can enjoy. Even in the UK's most expensive cities like London and Edinburgh, the affordability and flexibility of serviced office rental means that these amazing spaces can be enjoyed by everyone from well-established companies to small businesses and startups. 

Moreover, the range of different spaces on offer isn't the only reason that serviced offices are ideal for activity-based working. Another way that these offices support ABW is with adaptable furniture and spaces. Because serviced office providers kit their offices out with all the furniture you need ready for quick move-ins, this furniture is often adaptable and modular, making it easy to change the layout of the space to suit its tenants. 

Creating an office space that works for you

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your physical workplace supports the way your team members work, ensuring that they can enjoy the best productivity and wellbeing in their roles. With so many great amenities and facilities as well as budget-friendly and flexible short-term leases, serviced offices are the best option for many businesses that want to encourage activity-based working. Alongside other flexible options such as coworking spaces and managed office spaces, the rise of flexible and hybrid offices shows that growing numbers of businesses are enjoying the benefits of these flexible and adaptable workspaces.

Here at Future Squared, we specialise in matching large and small businesses with their perfect office spaces in a range of amazing locations across the UK. For help with your search or to find out more about our office locations, get in touch with our friendly team