Activity-based working: a concept worth trying
It is no secret that the working environment affects how we feel at work. But, can the right office furniture and layout also make us more creative, more efficient and better at collaborating? To answer that question, we created a state-of-the-art office in our studio. Then we let communications agency Treativ come in and test it out for a day. This is the result.
An office that provides variety and freedom
"You work where your mind is, not where your desk is". That is the basic concept of activity-based working, around which we built our office. We started from an open space, then we created a solution with several rooms within the room. The resulting workspace provided the opportunity to choose between different workstations as well as good acoustic and light conditions, a carefully selected colour scheme and a playful overall feel. This was all done in order to make it easy for everyone to work efficiently in a place that felt right to them in that moment: individually or in groups; standing at a table, sitting in an armchair or semi-reclined on a bean bag.
First impression? WOW!
Six eager Treativ employees arrived at AJ Products’ head office in the morning. They were led into our studio, where we had built a brand-new activity-based office for them to trial. The question was: is it possible to create an office environment that is so innovative that even forward-thinking communications people are surprised? The answer: Yes, it appears so, because it made a strong impression on the whole group from the very first glance.
"My first thought was WOW," says Louise Lejestrand, founder, co-owner and brand strategist at Treativ. "I was also impressed by the number of features you could get into a relatively small area."
Lots of potential workplacesIt didn’t take long for Treativ to take over the office and for everyone to find their own preferred spot among the opportunities on offer. Some stood at the sit-stand desks in the large open area, which had cabinets next to them for storing personal belongings. Some sought out the more secluded workspaces that were built into the Combo shelving system.
"It felt nice to sit there and have something around you, it was like having a shelter!", says Art Director Calle Lindell with a smile. "Plus, the carpet right there helped create good acoustics."
More options were provided in the form of a long conference table: partly intended for traditional sit-down meetings and partly for bench desking, where colleagues sit side by side but work individually at their laptops.
The best place for brainstormingAfter exploring the various possibilities, the whole group gathered around the standing table in one of the meeting rooms where an intensely yellow-green wall colour had been chosen to stimulate original thinking. Soon, the creative process was underway. The communications agency's employees worked with a real project and the ideas flowed.
"The furniture, the whole energy in the room with the nice colours and the possibility to write on the walls…it felt free and was definitely the best place for brainstorming", says Maria Sanchez, Digital Strategist. "Standing up boosts creativity and we will introduce this in our own office in the future, even in customer meetings."
Made for spontaneous meetingsThe open shelving system served as an effective room divider, both between two groups of desks in the open office and also between that workspace and the area with the meeting table and built-in workstations.
Our test office also provided room for spontaneous meetings. The coffee machine was placed on a shelf in the open shelving system, so it was accessible from two directions. It became a natural gathering place that encouraged short breaks and social exchanges, as did the chess board that was set up on a shelf and which led to a game of chess that went on throughout the day. Next to the shelving was a long bench. It had storage space underneath and seating blocks in front which could be used for all sorts of purposes: seat, footrest or "table" for the employees' laptops.
A quiet and private spaceThe fourth and last space was a small, quiet room dedicated to individual work, important phone calls or private conversations. The artificial lawn on the walls was not just a playful feature, the material also served as an effective sound absorber and the green colour had its well-known soothing effect. Several of the employees spent time here when they wanted to work undisturbed.
"At first I sat at a regular desk because I am used to it", says Lars Sörqvist, CEO and co-owner. "But when the quiet room became available, I went there. It was nice to sit there all alone and write for a while. The small size was perfect. In general, I liked being able to switch between different environments according to my needs or mood."
An inspiring and successful testTime flies when you’re having fun and this day was no exception. But, the group from Treativ also worked efficiently and completed several real tasks. In addition, they answered our questions about their experience with the working environment we created. Judging from the response, we got it spot on.
"It has been fantastic, one of the most enjoyable days in a long time", Louise Lejestrand concluded. "Partly because we have had some fun together, partly because we have got many new ideas. It’s time for a makeover when we get back home!"
We, at AJ Products, say thank you to Treativ for the feedback, the good company and the positive comments. Now we will turn today's lessons into even better working environments in the future.
Do you want to work more efficiently in an office that boosts creativity and collaboration? Get in touch with AJ Products – we will help you all the way from suggestions and sketches to a finished office.