The Building Guild Commercial Fit Out

Activity Based Working - Fad or future of the workplace

Now firstly let me say – I’m a humble builder, not an interior designer or workplace strategist. That being said, I’ve seen my fair share of workplace design come to life in a host of forms – successful and otherwise.

The one common thread in my experience with workplace design and it’s current form activity-based working seems to be this – workplace culture and workplace design have to align. See, sadly for the firms who don’t get it right, they have been sold a wonderfully designed workplace but haven’t been told that a journey of change and leadership has to be executed before the big changeover day.

Commercial Design and Workplace Culture

Take this example, Jenny has been working in accounts and the firm for 10 years and has her paper piles well managed. One day she is told the company is moving to a new office and that in two weeks she will not have her own desk and that everything will be paperless. Unfortunately for the firm, Jenny’s job training, company systems and culture haven’t prepared her for this day and Jenny chooses to leave the firm the month after the big move.

On the other hand, Widget Technologies has developed a new piece of software that will grow its business exponentially as long as it can hire and retain the best people. As a strategic move, the CEO meets with key people and begins to workshop the activity-based working idea with the interior designer. As a result there is excitement about the move and once completed, potential employees are attracted to the firm for its innovative culture reflected in the workplace design.

These are two extremes I know, but they both happen every year as workplace design evolves. For me as a builder who loves great design, I want to see these projects achieve great success in the built product and also in the people’s experience of them.

– Alex Johnson