How activity based working is revolutionizing the modern office
Workplaces are constantly at unrest as a matter of necessity, but is it time we transform the way we work based on activity rather than hierarchy?
Workplace transformation is an important concept within many industries. In fact, one piece of research carried out by CBRE found that 86% of organizations were reinventing or changing their workplace standards last year. While there are a number of transformation options that are gaining traction among those seeking out office design services, one of the most significant is the concept of activity based working (ABW).
Essentially, the idea behind activity based working is that employees should have the ability to move between different work areas, which are set up to facilitate different kinds of activities. It is similar to the concept of agile working, although ABW set-ups tend to be slightly more rigid in terms of when and how employees tend to complete their tasks. Nevertheless, the concept of movement between different spaces remains the same.
A key idea connected to activity based working is the principle that employees should not have a single assigned work station. Instead, businesses work with office space planning experts to create a number of different work areas, which each allow a certain kind of activity to take place. So, for example, there may be one area for concentrated work, one area for collaborative work, one area for meetings etc, One of main reason for the rise of ABW has been a backlash against open-plan offices, which were, in turn, created as a means of fighting the lack of collaboration generated through traditional cubicle layouts.
A classic example of an office revolutionized by activity based working is Microsoft Netherlands’ office in Amsterdam. As part of the design, the company did away with private spaces, ensuring all employees are equal. It provides a variety of different workspaces and meeting rooms, as well as a coffee area, and allows employees to move around freely. As a by-product, the company has reduced real estate costs by 30% and also boosted productivity.
Research supports the use of activity based working designs as office space planning solutions.
In total, 67% of employees working in ABW environments agreed to the fact that the design of their workplace encourages them to choose work settings that best suit their task, while 82% agreed that the technology and infrastructure is in place for them to work in different spaces throughout the office. Meanwhile, 81% felt their company culture enables this, and 70% agreed they have the right support and training and facilities.
On the surface, these are encouraging statistics. However, it is worth noting that only 46% of employees agreed with all four statements. As a result of this, the study found that a substantial number of employees did not actually embrace the new way of working. This highlights the importance of making sure that office design services and internal procedures face up to these challenges and support adoption of activity based working.
Designs need to actually encourage people to move based on their task.
The Essential Guide To: Activity Based Working
The best way to think of activity-based working is in providing the employee the choice in where, when and how they work. It as an opportunity to boost employee productivity and innovation. Activity-based working recognizes that people perform better in differing work environments. Therefore, removing physical work condition, such as a desk and an office, provides greater flexibility for the employees.
This concept flies in the face of workspace concepts of the 1980s and earlier, where employees were expected to remain at their desks from 9-5 throughout the week. As an employee, your physical environment defines the company status. The technological revolution has gone a long way in redefining the workplace and sort of blurred the boundaries. One’s office can now extend from home, in coffee shops, on planes, trains, and cars – wherever you are on the move.
This ultimately results in the workspace needs of employees being greatly stretched out; since everyone won’t be in the building at the same time. Individual employees may work mornings, while others may dip in to refuel, socialize, relax or even work out. For your staff to flourish, your workspace needs to reflect these changing dynamics.
This post should be used as guide in your process in engineering a workspace that reflects the changing needs of the employees, and caters to the individual needs and provides environments to boost employees’ morale, motivation, and increase productivity.
Planning the re-design
Once the decision has been made to adopt activity-based working, a huge culture change will be taking place. Putting together a brief for the employees and a subsequent action plan is the key to proper execution. There are professionals to help you with this deployment plan.
Whether you’re changing locations or staying put, what is the reason for the change? Are there workflow issues, personal objectives, a need to better reflect your culture and vision or a desire to refresh your environment, work smarter, retain your best people and attract new talent?
Regardless of your reasons, you need to be able to convey them to company staff and get them on board sooner than later. Once you get your team in the sphere, they can advise areas for improvement and feel more empowered and receptive to change.
Some tips on creating your brief
With the team in place, it’s time to start thinking about your new activity-based workspace brief and understand how to divide up the space.
The workplace needs to have a variety of space conducive to the work activities. Many can be used for more than one, but some, for example ‘focus’ requires somewhere quiet and not noisy place.
Consider the visitor experience and how it will impact the team. How can you maximize the utility of the work space?
For example, when creating a brainstorming space for the team, ask yourself if the space is designed to facilitate collaboration and the creative energy required for a good brainstorming session.
Setting the correct environment, specific to the needs and desired output of the space, will ensure that you are creating a comfortable workplace for your team that maximizes their end result.
Setting Employee Expectations
Integrating an activity-based work can bring challenges as well as many benefits. It has the advantage of optimizing the performance of the team. However, you need to identify the challenges as well.
This can include quiet zones, scheduling conference rooms, a clear desk policy, specified eating areas, and co-working spaces. Maps with details of the available facilities and resources are also useful.
To embrace activity-based working to its fullest extent, it’s necessary to trust your workforce, give them choice and flexibility. Empower them to organize their work in a productive way which delivers maximum results. If your workspace recognizes the differing personalities, needs and comfort zones of your workforce, one will have environments all will be happy to work and relax in.
Advantages of Activity based workplace.
1. Higher Employee wellbeing
Employee wellbeing is crucial to the success of every company.
When employees feel good the workplace will also flourish. An easily adaptable work environment that supports modern working culture inspires creativity, releases energy, radiates positivity and leads to better results.
Good work environment also reduces sick leave and boost productivity.
2. Increased Productivity
A well-designed workspace supports your company’s strategy and operating processes.
It also serves as an excellent management tool. User-friendly workspace design facilitates information processing, boosts efficient time use and reduces the amount of distractions. A well-designed sound environment alone will substantially increase efficiency, compared with a traditional open cubicle spaced office. Each employee deserves a workspace tailored to their own personality and tasks assigned. An investment made in the work environment will quickly pay itself back in the form of higher productivity.
3. Saving in premises cost
An activity-based environment allows you to save up to 50 per cent in premises costs.
Giving up permanent workstations reduces the need for space and also boosts efficiency and job satisfaction. In this transformation, the work environment is divided into different areas in accordance with the degree of privacy required or work assigned. In a good working environment, there are areas for different situations: collaboration, communication, chilling out and concentration. As a result, employees doing different tasks will be able to get more out of their work and efficiency level.
4. More defined corporate image
Pleasant office premises that reflect the company’s brand image are your business card for the customers.
They allow you to effectively communicate your company’s values and visions, both to your own staff and to the clients. The functionality of the premises, the visual inspiration they provide and the desired brand image are also key factors in attracting the best recruits – and in motivating the existing staff. The environment that reflects your aims is created from a large number of various factors. Therefore, the best end results are achieved when the matter is given priority early on and the needs are specified in accordance with the company’s strategy and processes.
5. Responsible work environment
Work environment design process, which covers the entire life cycle of the premises, is a responsible choice.
Switching to an activity-based office may reduce your company’s carbon footprint to a good extent. User’s needs are always a priority and the mapping of the customer’s and employees’ requirements is an important stage in the process. We also carefully examine which of the existing fittings, solutions, and facility can be used in the new design. Items that are in bad condition are disassembled, sorted and can be used as spares or in energy production.