Activity Based Working: Enterprise Adopts Collaborative Models From Education

mersive-office-0714In today’s new global economic state, many companies are looking to improve their bottom line through efficiency gains, productivity tools, and collaboration as opposed to more traditional models of market growth. Large companies are now seriously re-thinking just about everything in their business processes. In the quest to make a workspace more productive, almost nothing is sacred and long-standing corporate traditions are being redesigned. I’m now regularly meeting with folks whose titles range from “collaboration specialist” and “productivity engineer” to “vice president for innovation management.”  This is an exciting time for anyone thinking about how to support the workspace through software or Audio-Visual technologies in general.

One important outcome of these efforts is a new model of the workspace called Activity Based Working, which does away with employee “owned” areas or assigned desks. Instead, the work environment is composed of areas where teams can come together into specific spaces based on the task the need to do. Areas throughout the workspace are designed for single and group activities centered around learning, collaborating, deep-thinking, socializing, and productive solo work. For example, when a few employees need to come together and brainstorm, they may find an open area with a few chairs around a table and a whiteboard that is near an open window with an inspiring view. One aspect of Activity Based Working is the idea that today’s work environment no longer segments each employee into a specific task. Instead, teams form and dissipate on demand and employees find ways to be more productive when given the opportunity to find a space that suits their needs.

It’s not surprising that larger enterprises are adopting Activity Based Working, they have had inspiration from new learning models and the success of start-ups. Smaller innovative companies follow Activity Based Working principles almost by default based on their DNA and company cultures. [I’ve included a picture of omersive officeur space].  I’ve blogged about a similar concept that has been transforming educational spaces for almost a decade called Team Enabled Active Learning.  The parallels between Team Enabled Active Learning and Activity Based Working are striking. Reliance on the collaborators ability to be productive if given the right team and environment, the ability to support dynamic team formation and a non-dogmatic approach to how people become productive learners/collaborators are at the heart of both.

In thinking about how best to support these models, it’s important to understand how collaboration and productivity occur from a human-centered point of view. When a space and its supporting technology are designed for a customer – think about how individuals will experience the technology to be productive and enjoy their workspace. In the case of Activity Based Working,  flexible, wireless and easy to use on demand technologies are important – wired cables running through drywall and fixed displays just don’t cut it anymore. Solutions that promote creativity, communication, and collaboration as a user moves throughout their space are what customers are asking for everyday.

Is your work environment centered on Activity Based Working? What types of technology are supporting it?