Space is a powerful tool to foster engagement, inspire innovation, and drive productivity. But what exactly does an optimal space look like? In the Science of Space, we explore how the science of intentional design can turn any work environment into a holistic experience.
Employees today seek both flexibility and autonomy—and companies that wish to attract and retain top talent are starting to think outside the 9-to-5 cubicle. Instead of the traditional office layout, in which employees sit at one desk all day, companies are embracing more flexible workspaces or even activity-based working.
What is activity-based working?
Activity-based working is a work style in which employees have different spaces related to the various tasks they need to complete throughout the day, and they are able to choose when and how they work. This might include common areas to connect with other teams, conference rooms to present new ideas, and quiet spaces to focus.
What are the benefits of an activity-based workspace?
A recent survey of employees by WeWork and Reuters found that when U.S. workers were asked what would make them more satisfied with their job, the top wish was better work areas/facilities (13 percent). That response even edged out higher pay (9 percent), better hours, and more vacation time.
As such, many forward-thinking companies are recognizing that a flexible workspace, which allows for a diversity of work styles such as activity-based working, doesn’t just keep employees happy; it has an impact on their bottom line. Providing staff with more freedom to move around and comfortable surroundings that make it easier to do their jobs can go a long way.
Eight innovative spatial features for activity-based working
These spatial features are helping enterprise companies break out of the cubicle mold and head into the future of flexible workspace:
When people need a quiet place for a client call or focused work requiring concentration (think writing or data-crunching), they can just slip into a cozy phone booth. This one in WeWork Air China Century in Beijing provides a bright, colorful space with sliding glass doors and comfortable seating that ensures that they won’t feel closed in.
Café-style atmospheres with hot desks
The main lounge in WeWork Yeouido Station in Seoul feels more like a bustling café than an office. Its long tables with work desks, semicircle booths for smaller group chats, and intimate couch and coffee-table areas make for a perfect blend of seating options. There’s even a stage area for informal presentations or maybe even downtime performances. As for the decor, it couldn’t be more inviting thanks to the mix of bright and traditional leather seating, greenery, and natural light.
Whether in need of a quick face-to-face with a colleague (instead of an endless email chain), or just to get a bit of work done in a new location, employees can make the most of the diner-like booths. At WeWork Taohui Xintian in Beijing, the tinted-glass windows are a nice touch, offering just enough privacy without sacrificing the ability to stay in tune with office happenings.
Formal conference rooms
Meetings are a given throughout the workday, and some require a formal setting, such as sales meetings, monthly brainstorms, or executive strategy sessions. This conference room at WeWork Insurgentes Sur 601 in Mexico City uses a modern minimalist design to create a welcoming take on the standard boardroom. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in stunning views and natural daylight to help support the flow of creative ideas.
Informal conference rooms
Not all meetings require a boardroom, though. Activities like brainstorming or meeting with prospective candidates can benefit from more casual, inviting settings. This conference room at WeWork Visconde de Pirajá 495 in Rio de Janeiro has a laid-back feel with a mix of different seating options. The cool green color palette is reminiscent of iconic Ipanema Beach, just a few blocks away.
Whether employees need a place to decompress when in the midst of a challenging project or feel like they can do their best thinking in a setting that feels like a living room, they can take refuge in this space at WeWork Antonio Miroquesada 360 in Lima, Peru. The soft seating and vibrant printed upholstery can provide an instant pick-me-up.
There are times, in every workday, when everyone feels the need to recharge in private. At WeWork Seomyeon in Busan, Korea, employees don’t have to go far to access a quiet zone. This comfy corner with its plush seating and outdoor view is perfect for a little downtime or heads-down work.
Fresh air, sunlight, and greenery can all contribute to improved employee health and wellness—supporting improved morale and productivity. The design of this outdoor terrace at WeWork Blue One Square in Gurugram, India, provides the ideal space for working, socializing, or eating lunch.
It’s clear that heads of real estate at enterprise companies have more important jobs than ever before—it’s their responsibility to ensure that employees have the best experience possible in their physical workspace. And those physical aspects can have a big effect on employees, from the ability to embrace and celebrate their own unique work style to supporting the creativity and imagination that leads to innovation.
When employees love where they work, it helps cultivate a sense of pride about their company culture, which can lead to increased employee retention and greater productivity. Moving toward a more flexible workspace is one way to start.
WeWork offers companies of all sizes space solutions that help solve their biggest business challenges.
Dawn Papandrea is a freelance writer who covers work, personal finance, and higher education. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Family Circle and Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter.