For businesses looking to consolidate and maximize available commercial real estate, activity-based workspace design is an enticing option. Activity-based workspaces are dynamic and agile. They also support employee productivity, regardless of task or project constraints.

Companies planning to make the transition to activity-based workspaces likely have questions about the efficacy of a new design and its fundamental nature. For answers, they need only to look at some of the biggest companies in the world that have already implemented and proven that activity-based workplace models work.

Activity-based workspaces on the rise

Before looking at real-world examples, it’s important to realize why so many companies have modeled their workplaces after this concept.

In a survey conducted by the CBRE Institute and CoreNet Global, Corporate Real Estate and Facilities (CRE&F) leaders from more than 100 companies were interviewed about activity-based workspaces. Nearly 70% expected to incorporate some degree of activity-based workplace design into their facilities in the near future. Driving this decision are concerns about the rising cost of commercial real estate, strategic alignment with company goals, and a focus on improved workplace collaboration.

Activity-based workplace design provides a one-to-one solution. It also emphasizes productivity, agility, and flexibility—increasingly important business traits in a globalized economy. Take a look at companies around the world that have discovered this firsthand.

Microsoft (Netherlands)

As of July 2019, Microsoft is the only trillion-dollar market cap company on the U.S. stock exchange. It’s a global powerhouse in computer technology and a household name for everything from computing to gaming to cloud services.

Microsoft’s success is certainly attributable to its products, but creating new-age innovations takes an inspired team to produce. The company’s facility in the Netherlands embodies this concept. It’s an activity-based workplace that creates team collaboration and fosters cooperation across all segments of business. Its purposeful design is peppered with concepts that make work itself more enjoyable.

Designed by Veldhoen + Company, the 117,200-square-foot space accommodates 1,000 employees in an open-concept environment. Its core premise is to promote work-life balance, while improving socialization and self-organization. There are no assigned desks, and every area emphasizes transparency, connection, and comfort. Relaxation zones, a coffee shop, and outdoor pavilions promote tranquility within a fast-paced, high-standards environment.

Costa Coffee (England)

Costa Coffee is the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world, focused largely in the United Kingdom. It’s well-known for its unique coffee roasts and incredible brand history, which includes expansion to three continents in 32 countries in just four decades.

The company culture of Costa Coffee is naturally representative of activity-based work and the company’s headquarters is a gem among collaborative workspace design examples. It features callbacks to the company’s roots on Paradise Street in Lambeth, UK, with a classic coffeehouse vibe that sets the tone for each of its 3,400-plus locations.

Designed by Morgan Lovell, Costa Coffee’s headquarters spans just 16,860 square feet, but uses activity-based spaces to maximize every inch. In planning the design, the firm pinpointed a need for meeting spaces, individual workspaces, breakout areas, relaxation space, and executive suites. The plan naturally gravitated to activity-based work. The design theme was a transition from “my desk” to “our space.” Modern furnishings, vivid colors, and welcoming amenities make Costa Coffee’s headquarters the ultimate coffeehouse—a time-proven place people love to work.

Unispace (United States)

A global office design firm, Unispace knows a thing or two about the power of the right workplace floor plan. The company is active in 23 countries, with more than 49 studios supporting over 500 workers. It handles workplace planning and design for startups and Fortune 500 companies alike.

At its Los Angeles, CA location, Unispace took a firsthand approach to selling its services. The office is both a scale model example and a functional space. It shows the power of activity-based working in small spaces. At just 2,700 square feet, it’s slightly bigger than a middle-class home, but extensive in the use of its open concept floor plan.

There are no doors in Unispace’s activity-based concept. Instead, static partitions and creative architecture separate areas and maintain space flow without creating barriers. Disciplines are still separated by proximity, but collaboration is as simple as walking a few feet to another group. It’s a purposeful organization of the company, without siloing employees. There’s no assigned seating and the entire workplace is constantly connected by a robust network of cloud-based technologies.

The case for activity-based space is ever-growing

These are just three real-world examples of activity-based workplaces on different scales. The concept remains the same across each of them, and the results have been astounding for all. Drawing from the governing concepts and strategic elements of these examples, any company can put together an activity-based environment. What matters most is staying true to the principles of collaborative work.

Keep reading: office workplace design provides a foundation for success.

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Jonathan writes about asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions in his role as a digital content creator at Eptura. He covers trends across industries, including fleet, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, with a focus on delivering thought leadership with actionable insights. Earlier in his career, he wrote textbooks, edited NPC dialogue for video games, and taught English as a foreign language. He hold a master's degree in journalism.