Activity Spaces

A Variety of Spaces for a Variety of Work

The relationship between collaboration and innovation is leading to a radical rethinking of the workplace plan.

Research shows that greater than half of work time is spent outside of individual assigned workspaces in places other than the central office and in new kinds of spaces. The new workplace model is a variety of spaces for a variety of work. The workplace is becoming less formulaic and static, more adaptive and fluid as it supports the many different tasks, functions and interactions that are the incubator of new ideas.

Office workers no longer lay claim to just a small square of real estate but share ownership of all the spaces that support the multiple tasks they are called upon to perform. In the emerging workplace the whole office is my office.

Today’s office contains individual assigned workspaces we call primary workspaces, and non-assigned spaces that are held in common and occupied with others as needed, called activity spaces. Primary and activity spaces may be individual or shared, open or enclosed, depending on their intended function. Both primary and activity spaces require broad connectivity with ready access to power and data, and wifi capability.

Activity spaces may call for specific additional technology tools based on their type and function. Together, the two types of spaces create a total work environment in which spaces are tailored to individual work and group interactions, offering employees choice and control over their work setting.

Primary spaces, which are typically assigned open plan workstations or private offices, are “home base” spaces. Often configured to support heads-down, focus work as well as short interactions with others, primary spaces may be designed explicitly to support shared work as in a two-person workstation with a table between; or to support team work, as in a large table configuration.

Activity spaces are “go to” spaces, that is, destinations for temporary group and individual work. They include:

  • Refuge for focus work among one or two
  • Enclave for small group interactions among three or four
  • Team Meeting for teams of five to eight
  • Assembly spaces for conferences, lectures or training
  • Community areas for informal socializing, eating or collaborating.

While layout, furnishings and technology will differ depending on the intended function of a given space, the sizes of activity spaces by type are relatively constant. Whether spaces support individual work, collaboration or more structured group activities, all must have qualities that make them places where people want to go.

Successful activity spaces attract, adapt and engage. They are appealing and comfortable, offer appropriate furnishings and technology, and provide multiple communication tools. Activity spaces permit individuals and group members to shape their work experience by adjusting and reconfiguring elements in the space, and provide opportunities to express organizational culture.