Why Activity Based Working is Essential for Your Workplace
Where other office designs have failed, properly implemented Activity Based Working meets the changing needs of the workplace and its workers.
From the advent of the first modern office building in New York in 1904, designers have been experimenting with different landscapes to find the bliss point of maximum efficiency, productivity and cooperation from employees. Each incarnation has been superseded in favour of something strikingly different that still failed to deliver on its promised solution. Open plan offices reneged on the collaboration and creativity they proposed, instead causing distraction and frustration from lack of privacy. Closed offices isolated us, cubicles alienated us and hot desking robbed us of our identity and made us feel marginalized.
Then Activity Based Working came along. Coined by Dutch consultant, Erik Veldhoen, Activity Based Working (ABW) provides people with a variety of areas tailored to workplace activities so they can choose where and how they want to work rather than being limited to a single setting. It could be seen as the optimal use of each of its predecessors arranged to meet the unique needs of any organisation. Your ABW would be a balance of areas to accommodate medium or high focus; shared spaces for working, meeting or socialising; and formal meeting rooms and functional spaces like lobbies, creating appropriate spaces for people to work alone or with relevant co-workers.
Some research findings identify that 90% of employees prefer to work at the office, so a physical workplace that supports your staff to perform at their peak is essential. The rapidly changing business landscape means that ABW will help you to future-proof your office design.
The technology we use is changing The technology we need to do our jobs no longer shackles us to a fixed desk so we can now work anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal. ABW can be set up for you to move around with your laptop/tablet or choose a hot desk where you can log in to a desktop. Phone calls no longer come through a central fixed line but by mobile or online systems like Skype. And advancements in printer technology mean you can print from various devices to any printer in the building.
The type of work we do is changing Jobs from just 50 years ago no longer exist, while a large amount of our current jobs have only recently emerged. Today’s office-based positions are dependent on technology but not on a fixed workstation. They require a combination of solitary contemplative work and collaboration for idea generation and problem-solving. ABW offers structures and systems to support these new and emerging roles that are flexible and accommodating.
The people in the workforce are changing There are currently four generations working alongside each other – Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials, with a 50 year age gap between youngest and oldest. Each has its own work style, with Millennials and Gen Ys introducing the blurred lines between work and play from university campuses into the workplace. The ABW office caters to these diverse generations and facilitates a positive atmosphere where they can work in a way that best suits them.
The expectations of workers are changing Flexibility is considered an essential benefit in today’s workplace, often ranking just behind salary. We want more work/life balance, but we also want work to be more like life. Companies like Google have affected the work culture psyche with offices that resemble playgrounds. While slides and sleep pods may not suit your business style, a lot can be learned from the innovations of the tech giant’s office design. Stimulating uses of colour, texture, nature and fun combined with intuitive spaces has been proven to increase productivity.
The workplace needs to change To adapt to all these changes the workplace must change, too. Investing in an ABW fit out that fits your company, with a change management plan that engages everyone into adoption, will help you to attract and retain top talent, empower their performance, make the most of your physical location, and prepare you for the future. Embracing this model will give you a competitive edge and should be viewed as a vital investment. Office National can help you implement an ABW that works for you, contact us to find out more.