September 18th, 2016

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You wouldn’t eat dinner in the laundry, or sleep in the workshop. So why don’t we naturally apply the same logic to the workplace? Each space has its purpose.

Within the workplace we’ve seen very little shift. Workers are often confined to the same seat, surrounded by the same people and look at the same view day in day out.

Each day at work we practice, on average, 21 different tasks

Leesman Activity Based Working Report


Spaces should work around us, not the other way around.

Every day is different and throughout the day we perform on average 21 different tasks, all while the space we work in remains the same.

Our way of working is not as it used to be. Workers want an opportunity in which they can thrive, and with that our physical spaces need to shift.

Some days we need to be fully isolated from distractions, others are all about collaborating with a close few and the rest are a rich blend of the above. The workspace should work around these activities, providing spaces which allow people to work at their best.

It’s a balance, no one size fits all

Start with your people. They understand how everyone works around them.

We all have very different ideals and creating a space to suit everyone is challenging. This is when choice comes into play. Give people options. Workers place great value being able to choose the space that best suits their current task. This is known as Activity Based Working (ABW).


Sometimes it’s about stripping everything back and looking at the blatantly obvious

1. Focus 

Open plan offices can’t accommodate for every activity in the workplace. While they are great for some tasks, they often fall short on others.

People need to be able to focus and shut off from distractions. If the only option is an open floor plan, this could be holding your people back and subsequently, the productivity of the business.

2. Collaboration

No matter what industry you’re in, working with other people on the same project is always going to occur. Some businesses do this more than others, but typically it’s part of a working culture.

Give people space that encourages a collaborating ethos. Desk pods, wall dividers, smaller meeting rooms all play their part in bringing teams together.

3. Social

Create an environment for meaningful interactions. Chill out zones and social spaces increase happiness, and when your people are happy it broadens their focus and expands their thinking.

Spaces where people can stop and switch off allow people to have a balanced day at work.


However, it’s not as simple as mashing these three spheres together and ‘voila’, you have a workspace that will increase productivity. Each business needs different amounts of each.

A design firm needs more creative collaboration spaces compared with an accounting firm which needs more individual workspaces.

Change for the sake of change will not help the bottom line.

Before diving into buying the latest standing desks or canvas hammocks. Try to understand what balance of focus, collaboration and social spaces your people need to be happy and productive.

Ask your people what they would like to see and allow them to have a say in the way the workplace is used. Consulting your people is the best way to understand what your space needs.

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