“Time and again, people fail to put enough effort into getting the acoustics right. Acoustics affect our behaviour and our productivity. The office design and the IT are the enablers.”
Louis Lhoest – Veldhoen+Company
Activity based working is more than desk sharing
Activity based working (sometimes referred to as ABW) is frequently mentioned in office design, but there seems to be many different ideas of what it means.
“Most people think it’s a kind of flexible working where you share desks and so on”, says Louis Lhoest from market leaders Veldhoen+Company. “That is only part of the solution. And it’s not synonymous with open-plan spaces. It’s a variety of choices that make the workplace fit for everyone.”
“The key in activity based working”, explains Louis Lhoest, “is to focus on what you are and what you really want to achieve in terms of change. Then you translate this into a set of guiding principles for how you want to work. This can in turn be translated into guidelines for the design of the office, the IT solutions, and how we behave.
Sharing is the consequence
The starting point is to ask how the organisation can support individual employees in their different activities and tasks during the workday. This will lead to a variety of available spaces and tools, which will enable the employees to make different choices, making them more mobile in the office. This will in turn create scope for sharing desks, tools and spaces. “Sharing is the consequence, not the starting point.”
What Louis Lhoest is actually saying is that this is about change management, not about designing an office. “The point is that you use the momentum when creating a new office to accelerate and support the change you want. Most organisations are very limited by the place where they are working.”
Acoustics are key
That said, Louis Lhoest is very clear when it comes to factors such as acoustics, light lighting, air quality and temperature. “If you don’t invest in these prime factors, don’t invest at all. Acoustics are key,” he stresses.
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