No two departments are the same. No two employees are the same. And many employees work days aren’t the same. People have different tasks, different responsibilities and different work modes, i.e. collaborative, social or focused, they need to be their most productive self.
To improve employee and office productivity, company office space has to allow for two things: flexibility and fluidity. This is why the workplace organizational approach of activity-based working—a business strategy that focuses on individual freedom, allowing people to work in whichever activity area fits their day’s needs rather than having an assigned workstation—has grown in popularity the last couple of years.
Activity-based working isn’t the only way people are innovating around workplace layouts and organization, though. Below we break down various similar, yet distinct approaches used by forward-thinking companies to solve for the diverse and ever evolving needs of the modern worker.
Definition: The activity-based cluster workstation approach still uses activity-based space, but it’s meant for team or cluster working instead of just individuals. Some say activity-based working is evolving into activity-based clustering.
Company Example: Colliers International
Shared leisure space in Collier’s France office location deploys modern finishes and modular workspaces for optimal workplace experience
Colliers International’s Levallois-Perret, France location utilizes what they call, third spaces, as activity-based clustering work zones. Rather than employees choosing to meet in formal meeting rooms, they’ve found that many employees better enjoy ad hoc meetings in informal places, like their cafeteria, because the space’s setup is more casual and social, encouraging more effective communication and idea sharing.
Definition: Office neighborhood workspaces organize employees into groups based on who needs to work together each day. The Neighborhood workspace let companies find creative ways to inspire collaboration, boost productivity and save space in the office based on company and team needs for their different working environments. It’s a practice where companies use urban physics to understand and improve their workplace design, as well as employee and environmental conditions.
Company Example: Uber
An open-concept common area inside Uber’s industrial San Francisco headquarters invites collaboration and showcases spaces where impromptu brainstorming sessions can break out freely.
In Uber’s San Francisco’s office, plans first showed the traditional open-office layout. But this transport company decided that wasn’t their intention, and instead organized their office into neighborhoods, or communities of 30-60 people, who work together on a day-to-day basis
Definition: Factions are common work areas created so employees sharing a common cause are able to more productively work together.
Company Example: Google
A unique garage space at Google gives employees space to interact with new products and materials for engrossing creative experiences.
Google offers numerous employee perks, but one that stands out is the Google Garage. This room is one that, according to Program Manager Mami Rheingold, is a “commons where Googlers can come together from across the company and learn, create, and make.” Any employee or team can come in to learn from one another and create things. There are tables and chairs, most of which are on wheels, TVs, whiteboards, foam blocks, 3D printers, boxes of scrap items and more—allowing a flexible workspace design where creatives can work on common ideas together.
No matter how you choose to approach this workplace evolution, it’s clear that having a specialized and adaptive workplace based on company, team and employee needs leads to improved collaboration, creativity and productivity, creating a more responsive workplace experience.