Community News and Insights

Community News and Insights

What is Activity-Based Working?

Sacha R - Friday, October 04, 2019

activity based working office floorplan

If you’ve attended a trade show, conference, or even just talked with your friends recently, you may have heard about activity-based working (ABW for short). ABW is rapidly becoming one of the most popular workplace strategies and organizational trends.

With ABW, it’s left up to employees to decide where to work depending on the type of work they’re doing. There are no designated desks, instead they can work in the kind of space that best supports the task at hand.

What’s Behind the Shift?

The type of work employees are performing is changing. The image of 50 employees silently working at rows of desks is long gone. Instead it has been replaced with people collaborating, meeting clients outside of the office, and using new technology to brainstorm ideas. Computers now take care of a wide range of routine tasks, freeing up workers for more value-add, idea generation, and problem-solving activities.

Employers are also beginning to be influenced by universities. When a student is getting their degree, they have a choice to work on a group project at the library, someone’s apartment, outside, or at a coffee shop. Entering the workforce where all work is done at a desk or in a conference room is startling and foreign. Those who want to attract and retain young, talented people must embrace new ways of working.

That being said, for those who are already in the workforce, they must adapt to ABW. It can take time to adjust to the idea of no longer having a desk that is “yours”. Instead, everything is shared and you’re free to move about as you wish.

9 Surprising Stats About Activity-Based Working

  1. Nearly 70 of participants in a study by Dutch researchers Susan Smulders and Denise Clarijs say an activity-based working environment increases their productivity, and two-thirds feel their work is more stimulating
  2. Over 60 percent of respondents in Smulders and Clariji’s survey say they have more energy in an activity-based working environment
  3. British utility company National Grid reduced operational costs by $11.43-14.29 million by implementing activity-based working. It also saw an 8 percent increase in overall productivity.
  4. 88 percent of highly engaged employees have the option to choose where in the office they work based on the specific task(s) they need to do
  5. Almost 80 percent of employees say their productivity is influenced by whether or not they have access to a quiet room where they can focus
  6. After adopting activity-based working, workplace design firm Oktra was able to eliminate 30 percent of desks
  7. 81 percent of employees at businesses that use ABW say the company culture supports mobility and flexibility
  8. 98 percent of highly satisfied employees work at a company where they have the freedom to move around the office during the day
  9. 78 percent of employees who work in an activity-based working environment say they are satisfied with the support they receive for planned meetings

Implementing Activity-Based Working

If you’re considering implementing activity-based working, there are several things you want to consider.

Be Inclusive

When designing your space, make sure it meets the needs of both the extroverted and introverted members of your team. While some like to work in silence, others like to have a lot of commotion and stimulation. You also need to include rooms to take conference calls in private and areas that encourage collaboration.

Respect the Three Pillars

People, technology, and spatial elements all play a critical role in ABW. Providing different spaces for different tasks is useless if people don’t have the mobility enabling technology to use them and the boss still thinks ‘work’ must be completed at a desk.

Ask for Employee Input

Before you begin to implement the cultural change, create a survey and request that your employees fill it out. Ask about their work habits, the tasks they do on a daily basis, and how they prefer to work. You’ll gain insight into a plan that will work for your company and help you retain your workforce.

Finding the Right Space

If you want to implement Activity-Based Working but don’t have the office to do so, get in touch with us today. We manage over 500,00 square feet of commercial space in the Capital Region and guarantee we’ll have the right office for you. With the ability to alter and build to meet your needs, you’ll have your Activity-Based office culture implemented in no time.