In A Nutshell…
Activity based working is rapidly taking over traditional ways of working. The flexibility and freedom to move throughout different spaces in the workplace is a highly valued and very necessary part of modern work. These spaces are tailored to different types of work activities and are used by employees for different purposes, making the workspace more dynamic and ultimately more productive.
Leesman defines activity based working as more of a “business strategy” than a “workplace strategy”, providing multiple work settings to meet the individual’s working needs and helping them implement certain tasks.
81% of employees who work in ABW environments say that their company culture supports flexibility and mobility (Leesman)
84% of millennials have a degree of flexible working in their organisations (Deloitte)
40% reduction in property footprint can be achieved by Australian Government Agencies when adopting ABW environments (JLL)
How to make it work:
The Leesman study titled “The Rise And Rise Of Activity Based Working” concludes that employees who work in ABW environments enjoyed significant personal and operational advantages.
The model can be adaptable – Rather than changing the entire organisational structure to make the environment ABW-friendly, it is possible to modify the ABW model itself to suit the needs of your individual organisation. Looking at elements such as business occupancy ratios and different areas and workstations in the space are two ways to start.
If ABW is adopted from the top down, and company leaders create a ‘non-threatening’ environment for employees to practice flexibility this can in turn lead to employee satisfaction and improve productivity. Management can also fund design works in the office and technology infrastructure that support ABW. In terms of saving costs, this will come in the form of better utilisation of space, not to mention the long term return on investment through greater productivity.
The affects on employees are immediate in terms of staff engagement and an overall improved company culture. Having access to spaces that support specific work tasks encourages employees to be more focused and motivated. From quiet spaces to those which support collaborative tasks and meetings, the enjoyment that comes with the freedom to move about throughout the day is invaluable.
ABW offers flexibility in real estate too! Through greater flexibility in space utilisation, companies can play around with their ratio of desks to people and hopefully leverage the space better as they go along. For organisations with multiple offices, the ability to move employees around based on client demands can greatly benefit efficiency.
Don’t ignore the challenges that come with ABW:
Not everyone likes being mobile. While lots of research focuses on the benefits of ABW on autonomous and mobile employees, it also reveals that those who are less mobile, do not enjoy working in these environments at all. It is the challenge of the organisation to establish an environment that caters for both types of workers.
The change can be a challenge. Invest in change management. Adopting an effective change management plan can ensure that individuals from every level of the organisation are not only aware of the changes taking place in their working environment, but have a say in these changes too. A great change management plan involves every worker in the journey and the outcome.
Taking ABW too far can prove detrimental to organisations who want to empower their employees to work anywhere and anytime, but compromise the very culture they’re trying to promote. This can happen through a number of ways; employees can disconnect from their organisation easily, the technology may not support the concept allowing for disruptions and inefficiencies and employees may feel that they are not given the right space to focus uninterrupted.
The above challenges can be overcome if an organisation pays attention to its business objectives, the requirements of its people and the suitability of its real estate. Opportunities certainly exist in every ABW environment. It’s important to know that there is not one single approach towards Activity Based Working for every organisation and every business should implement an ABW environment that can benefit it financially, culturally and in a way that reflects its values.
Need help with implementing your ABW model?
Contact BRM Projects on (03) 9521 1007
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