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Activity-Based Working, old-hat already?

“People do not automatically work better together by a seemingly attractive office lay-out!” That says Wim Pullen, director of the Center for People and Buildings (CfPB) in a blog on the website of the Institute.


Colleague Based Working

In his story Pullen questioned all kinds of unfunded claims that people nowadays have on the subject of the flexible office and agile working. “People turn out to bet very limited in choosing a specific workplace for the activity that they do”, he says. He would rather talk about ‘Colleague Based Working’. With direct colleagues sitting together is considered important and they will make sure that a place is reserved for you.

Personality Based Working

Another possible variant according to Pullen is ‘Personality Based Working’. This is about workplaces that fits the personality of individual workers. If you are introvert and you need for seclusion and rest, then you want a place where it’s not so hectic with lots of people talking and making phone cals. If you have a high personal need for structure, than it does not matter to work in that satirical office cliché and sit day sit opposite the same colleague day in day out and get your coffee and eat your sandwiches at scheduled times. Of course with using the same plastic lunchbow you have had for years.

Work is changing

The nature of the office work that we are doing is changing in the meantime.  Administrative and operational tasks are on the decrease whereas knowledge and services are becoming more and more important. Due to these developments, society in the short term needs to deal with a loss of administrative jobs, and changes in required knowledge and skills. On the other hand, the group of experts expects a sizeable growth in employment opportunities in the field of informatics, data-analysis and handling intelligent systems. Work is becoming more complex and specialized, with an increasing focus on innovation and creativity. Collaborative workplaces and Biophilic Design become very important.

Fields of expertise will be more connected, the number of stakeholders in a chain will be on the increase and boundaries between organisations will fade. Traditional organisational structures will shift towards matrix- and network organisations, with a limited permanent core of employees that enables a quick response to changes. This organic way of working, without rigid structures, requires an adaptive and accessible work environment that connects employees. Please note that the increased cooperation between people creates an increasing demand for social and communicative skills.

That requires also a different different office interior design with collaborative workplaces. It is a mistake however to think that this will decrease the amount of space needed. Agile working doesn’t necessarily mean that you wil save on office space.