OPTIMISING SPACES: Financial Services & Activity-Based Working

In the first of our Optimising Spaces blogs, we featured the role that office design can play in creating more productive workplaces for businesses in the financial sector.

In the second of our feature articles focusing on the financial services industry, we take a look at how the concept of activity based working (ABW) can improve staff wellbeing and increase productivity.

What is ABW?

Activity-based working (ABW) is based on the idea that people perform different activities in different work settings.

With a combination of the right technology and culture, this concept can help staff work more effectively and productively.

It can be incorporated into every aspect of an organisation, including the design and layout of their workplace.

What does ABW look like?

In relation to office design, activity-based working needs to specifically reflect the way that staff members work.

This will encompass the roles they undertake, the activities they participate in and how they interact with their colleagues and work environment.

Because of this, the physical manifestation of ABW will differ from business to business.

Ultimately, this will include factors like the age range of staff, how much privacy certain tasks need and how important collaboration and socialising is to the business.

An ABW-friendly workplace will usually contain a mixture of private and open spaces which allow staff to find somewhere that suits their immediate needs.

The importance of employee experience

Advances in technology have made the workplace less about where we work and more about how we work.

Businesses not only need their physical office space to be comfortable and practical, it should also communicate, nurture and support a company’s culture and mission.

This institutional evolution also comes with an increase in worker expectations.

Because of this, firms in the financial sector need to put greater emphasis on improving the employee experience.

A welcoming workplace for the financial services sector

As we’ve mentioned previously, Kinnarps and Jeremy Myerson joined forces and highlighted three Cs that made a welcoming workplace; collaboration, concentration and contemplation.

Here are our thoughts on how these elements can be combined to create an ABW-friendly environment for businesses in the financial sector.

Collaboration spaces for financial services

As firms in the financial sector turn to new technology and their services start to become more digitally-focused, they need to reflect at least some of the trends seen in the offices of more creative sectors.

Informal areas where staff can get together and share ideas are vital. These could be;

  • Café-style break out areas
  • Communal hot desks
  • Booths and pods
  • Rooms with “writable walls” for brainstorming

Using modern office furniture that’s comfortable and flexible, these spaces can improve socialising and wellbeing as well as encourage mobility.

In an industry that’s looking to recruit from younger generations, these areas resonate with the way that millennials like to work.

Larger organisations might be able to offer cafés, games rooms and, in the case of JPMorgan Chase’s offices in New York, free scooters to get around faster.

However, offices needn’t be this extreme. In fact, it’s just as important to offer places where staff can get some peace.

Concentration & contemplation spaces for financial services

The flipside to all of this collaboration is the fact that people are just as likely to need somewhere away from an open-plan layout where they can get a bit of privacy.

This is especially important in the security-conscious world of financial services.

Client confidentiality is vital but so is the need for staff to focus on complex issues and concentrate on what will often be analytical, data-rich projects.

For this, a loud, open-plan, collaborative, space won’t work.

While businesses remove walls and physical barriers to detach from a hierarchical structure and embrace a culture of inclusivity, staff will always need access to a room with a door for private meetings or confidential work.

Finding the right balance

The principles of activity-based working are based entirely on a healthy mixture of collaborative and private spaces.

By allowing people to choose the space that best meets their needs, they can organise their workflow in a more productive way.

Whether they need to share ideas on the right financial solution for a client or avoid interruptions to analyse complex data, an ABW-friendly office design will make their working life stress-free.

If you’d like to find out how activity-based working could benefit your business, contact us today.

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Categories: Office DesignOffice Fit OutOffice FurnitureOptimising Spaces

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