Activity-based learning office layouts are the way of the future for modern offices.

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activity based working

The new ‘open office’ – activity-based working

Activity-based learning office layouts are the way of the future for modern offices.

Southern Cross University in partnership with the University of Sydney and global interior design firm Cachet Group will undertake a collaborative research project to assess the impact of activity-based working in Australian offices.

What is activity-based working and why do you need to know about it?

Well, for starters, it is the way leading workplaces are heading in terms of providing working conditions that promote both wellbeing and increased productivity.

Considered a transformative business strategy, activity-based working provides a multitude of unconventional and egalitarian spaces by removing personal desks and allowing workers to gravitate to a location suited to undertaking a particular task.

It is loosely the next generation of ‘open plan’ office design – which workers across the globe have grown to hate with its lack of privacy and limited quiet work zones.

Contrast this with a typical activity-based office layout that may see workers migrating to team desks, quiet concentration rooms, a variety of meeting rooms, brainstorming areas, multimedia rooms or lounge areas.

So, that is vastly better than everyone being thrown into the mosh pit together, which is what seems to be the norm with so many typical open office plans.

Any changes that give working carers space for a little bit of privacy and a place where quiet jobs can be done without noisy interruptions has got to be a good thing.

“The advantages of activity-based working have already been widely reported in the property sector but it is time to provide evidence around this growing office trend in Australia,” said research project leader Dr Christhina Candido.

Dr Candido runs the University of Sydney Building Occupant Survey System (BOSSA) in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, which is dedicated to understanding the impact of indoor environments on occupant satisfaction, health and productivity.

The pilot study, a first of its kind in Australia, will examine how activity-based office designs affect worker productivity and wellbeing.

Wearable technology and novel analytical software developed by Southern Cross University and the University of Sydney will be used to capture and analyse the cognitive responses of workers in a variety of work spaces.

“By monitoring cognitive performance, we will capture the emotional and physical responses of people working in different office locations and layouts,” said Professor Dian Tjondronegoro, IT Discipline Leader at Southern Cross University.

Open plan offices have evolved significantly in Australia over the last few decades as a result of innovative concepts such as activity-based working now becoming the norm.

While a lot is known about the issues around open-plan working, the joint research team hopes to understand more about how this latest wave of activity-based work environments affects the productivity of office workers.

The pilot study will be carried out in a range of Cachet-designed contemporary offices in Sydney with the potential for the study to be rolled out across Australia.

Rowan Hamman, Managing Director of Cachet Group's Australian operation said the Australian study will provide the research needed to develop an exemplary global practice of work place design.

“It will provide the basis for evidence-based design solutions to increase worker satisfaction,” he said.