Workplace transformation – increasing collaboration and efficiency

(People ask for Co-working offices – so what does that mean to them and what might it mean for designers).

A general definition for Activity based working (ABW) is based on the premise that no employee has an assigned workstation. Rather, the workspace provides a variety of activity areas or zones that allow employees to conduct specific tasks including learning, focusing, collaborating and socializing. Companies like JLL have adopted this model, even the China CEO has no assigned workstation.

Co-working on the other hand is an ethos around a collegial approach to freelance style roles / work in a commonly shared space, where these individual contributors or small teams share resources. Co-working has helped to amplify the ABW concepts and open this design application to a different market segment such as freelancers and start-ups.

The ABW way of working is positioned towards a multi team-orientated approach which must be flexible enough for diverse teams to adapt their allocated zones to their needs. 

Blending design approaches based on project type.

The rapid pace of change in China is allowing opportunities to structure operations of physical environments in diversifying ways. With changes in (cloud based) technology, workplace planning options such as Activity based working (ABW) and Co-working are hot topics for clients in developing their aspirations for a new workplace.

Client groups across Facility teams, Human Resources and C-suite are seeking to affect cultural change, improve staff engagement and gain greater collaboration. A transformative workspace can help, if it’s done right. 

In a Harvard Business Review article on organizational culture and workplace reflected: 

“The ideal organization makes explicit efforts to transcend the dominant currents in its culture.”


There is a general conclusion that modern workplaces being built today are all going open plan and that transformation from traditional spaces to more modern approaches will result in dysfunction. Spaces need to magnify the opportunity for strengths to be enhanced.