The office environment is changing. While employees used to be confined to desktops when undertaking work on computers, first the invention of the laptop and then the proliferation of other mobile devices meant that the modern employee was soon free from the shackles of the cubicle.


According to research from International Data Corporation (IDC), the changing of the guard is well and truly complete, with mobile workstation shipments growing as their static counterparts decrease during the second quarter of 2015.

The firm found that the number of mobile workstations sold grew to just under 300,000 units in this quarter, a 5.4 per cent increase over the same time from 2014.

In comparison, desktop workstations saw a considerable decline, dropping nearly 4 per cent to around 640,000 units. Although they are still dominant in outright sales numbers, the changing nature of modern offices and emerging employee demands means desktop workstations are being slowly phased out in favour of more flexible solutions.

These trends align with new office developments such as activity-based workplaces (ABW). This refers to environments that encourage collaborative work processes, flexible staffing solutions and more productive procedures.

Real-estate expert Colliers International found that nearly a third (32 per cent) of the businesses it surveyed have implemented these office designs, with the trend being most popular among technology, finance and property companies.

Colliers International Research Director Felice Spark had further advice for businesses that think ABW could revolutionise their office space.

“Activity-based workplace design generally works best in larger organisations where there is a significant proportion of knowledge workers to facilitate collaboration,” she said.

Offices that utilise ABW practices need to ensure their workforce and technology departments are prepared to get the most out of them. This includes an emphasis on mobile workstations, devices and other flexible technology practices that gel with the ABW layout.