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Six key zones for activity-based workspaces

The concept of activity-based workspace design – where you create defined zones within your workspace that are designed to enable specific activities – is increasingly being recognised as a way of boosting productivity, attracting and retaining talented people and improving wellbeing in the workplace.

It’s a concept with a sound scientific basis. Neuroscience has been busy figuring out how our sensory processes work and we can now accurately predict how we will behave when presented with certain environmental cues. We can apply this knowledge to influence attention, motivation and behaviour – all important factors for employers looking for an edge when it comes to productivity. Couple this with research showing that the average worker spends less than 50% of their time at their desk, that endless sitting is bad for you and the knowledge that super-successful companies like Google, Pixar and Apple all have richly diverse workspaces – and it becomes a pretty compelling proposition.

But what kind of zones do you need? And what are they for? Here are six key zones that make up activity-based workspaces:

1. Collaborate:

  • Purpose: for collaborative and team tasks including meetings, brainstorms, ideation, problem-solving.
  • Furniture Components: For smaller groups use varied height soft seating coupled with WorkingWall – a mobile, dry-wipe LearningSurface wall. For larger groups and where space allows, consider tiered seating and LearningSurface walls, coupled with soft seating for flexibility.

2. Gather:

  • Purpose: a social space for casual or ad-hoc ‘quick five minutes’ meetings, lunch breaks, time-out and post-work gatherings.
  • Furniture Components: Agile furniture, including varied height soft seating, upholstered stools, mobile dry-wipe tables and chairs that can be arranged in clusters as required. Tiered seating also works brilliantly here as a place to gather.

3. Reflect:

  • Purpose: A space for focused work that requires no distractions – writing, creating, thinking.
  • Furniture Components: Think comfortable individual and small group seating in booths and pods with acoustic properties.

4. Talk:

  • Purpose: A space where you can talk, hold video conferences, take and make phonecalls without feeling like you are disturbing anyone.
  • Furniture Components: Touchdowns and standing height tables with integrated power and data work well here.

5. Explore:

  • Purpose: A space rich in technology and analogue resources where you can work individually or as a team to deep dive ideas, develop concepts, conduct research and explore the possibilities.
  • Furniture Components: Dry wipe walls, tables and screens coupled with varied height soft seating and chairs. This is an agile space that can be reconfigured to suit – great for that ‘off site’ meeting vibe without leaving the office.

6. Focus:

  • Purpose: Desk time for emails, admin and getting stuff done.
  • Furniture Components: Curved team desking that enables eye contact, coupled with ergonomic task chairs, works better than serried ranks of straight rows when it comes to building teams.

The good news is that you don’t need a shiny new spaceship-like office building to create these zones. Many of the benefits of a diverse working environment can be achieved with modular, structural furniture that can adapt and grow with your business. If you need some help creating your activity-based workspace, we’d be delighted to help.

Next time we’ll look at the neuroscience behind these zones and explain why they are so effective.

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