Let’s face it. The traditional and much-maligned cubicle office is going extinct and open floor offices are slowly but surely becoming the new normal. And the rising crop of new millennial workers agree. Study after study show how they favour a more open workspace that offers more flexibility. One of the concepts that is changing the way we work in the 21st century is activity-based working. But what is it exactly and why should you implement it in your office?
What is Activity-Based Working?
First, let’s define what activity-based working is first. In simple terms, activity-based working is an approach that allows workers to work from whichever location they choose. This model recognises that workers have to deal with a variety of tasks in their day to day activities and could benefit from working from a diverse array of settings with proper technological support and a culture that encourages the free flow of people and ideas.
With ABW, the workspace is created to meet the virtual and physical needs of teams and individuals first and foremost. The main goal of ABW is to create a culture of inspiration, connection, and accountability that will allow individuals to feel more empowered while allowing organisations and teams to work to their full potential.
Activity-based working, on a personal level, also allows each employee to organise their day to day activities in an enjoyable and productive way that works best depending on the task at hand. The goal is to create the ideal environment and circumstances to facilitate the outcome.
Whether its individual focus work, sharing knowledge, collaborating on content, or working on ideas in teams or individually, activity-based working allows each employee to have the freedom to choose their work method and achieve the best results.
If you want to learn more about what is activity based working and how to implement it in your office, commercial interiors companies like Amos Beech can walk you through the whole process of activity based working and help you rethink and restructure spaces to make them more efficient and collaborative.
Now that we know what activity-based working is, let’s look at some of the reasons why it could be beneficial to your business.
Employees that have better concentration in the workspace will be more productive, which is why a rising number of companies are allowing their employees to choose where and how they work. One of the main features of activity-based working offices is the creations of quiet areas or rooms that are designated especially for deep concentration. These types of spaces allow employees to avoid distractions and focus on their tasks better. As a matter of fact, one study noted that over 70% of employees agreed that quiet designated spaces for specific tasks or to make phone calls increased their productivity.
These types of spaces are especially important when employees have to deal with tight deadlines, or when they have a role in the company that asks for optimum concentration, like copywriting, for instance.
Your Employees will be More Active
Several studies have proven that a more active workforce is a healthier one, which will result in less absenteeism in the long run. Activity-based working office design encourages free movement and will push your employees to move around more. Another common feature in ABW office is the presence of stand up desks. Stand up desks have also been shown to have a variety of health benefits. For instance, working standing up has been linked with lowers risk of obesity, cancer, and even longer life expectancy.
Create a More Collaborative Work Environment
While the traditional open office has been lauded for years as being the best way to foster collaboration in the workplace, it is not the only approach you can take. With a healthy mix of breakout areas, meeting rooms, and team desks, activity-based working offices makes collaboration between team members much easier. And unlike the traditional open office, employees aren’t restricted to a specific desk, which favours more open casual and professional conversation.
Effective communication is key to collaboration, so creating an environment where communication is facilitated will benefit everyone.
More Space Efficient
Another benefit of activity-based working is that it reduces the space needed for teams, as it eliminates things like individual workstations. Individual possessions can be stored away in lockers to ensure less of them make it to the work floor. This allows for a better team atmosphere with no pre-defined personal space.
Both Practical and Aesthetically Pleasing
This factor is often overlooked by many, but workspace design plays an essential role when it comes to employee satisfaction. According to a recent study, workspace design came as the number one factor contributing to employee happiness. If you’re looking for an office space that your employees will love from both a practical and aesthetic standpoint, then activity-based working is definitely the way to go.
Your Employees will be More Productive
An activity-based working environment empowers your employees and allows them more control over their everyday decisions. Traditional offices are created for meetings and desk work only. With activity-based working, your employees can decide exactly where, how, and when they work. This can not only work wonders for employee engagement and morale but it will also boost productivity as a result.
What are the Challenges that Can Interfere with Activity-Based Working?
While activity-based working has many advantages, implementing it in your office does have its challenges. One of the biggest challenges is making the switch from designated workspaces to hot desks. The truth is that some employees may actually like working is silos and having their set routine. So, they might not welcome the idea of switching spaces every day as openly as others.
One way to deal with this issue is by using apps that will allow staff members to see which spots are open at any given time. This will reduce confusion among employees and allow them to avoid unpleasant surprises once they get on to the floor. These apps will also allow them to reserve their spot in advance to make sure that they know exactly where they can be seated and get right to work as soon as they get in.
Also, since many employees may be more used to working individually, the new collective work mindset might be difficult for them to adapt to. The best way to approach this issue is to do more training so they can slowly get accustomed to the new system. You could also bring the team closer together through activities. Allowing your employees to know each other better will help them to work better in an open team atmosphere.
If you want to make sure that the transition goes smoothly, you have to make sure that the c-suite is on board. Transitioning to activity-based working can be a huge difference for some workplaces, and you’ll need the advocacy and support of your senior team for it to work. This means they also have to be enthusiastic about the changes and lead by example. By encouraging them to be early adopters of the new approach, you will be able to shut down inevitable arguments that may occur.
How to Make Sure that the Transition Goes Smoothly
First, you should know that there is no one size fits all way to implement activity-based working in your office. You also don't have to completely overhaul your whole office at once. You could try implementing some aspects of ABW into your workspace little by little and see the results.
Using a pilot will allow you to test new setups, tools, and choose the best ABW model for your needs. It will also allow your employees to try the model first-hand and give their recommendations. You’ll be able to see if your workforce would actually benefit from implementing an activity-based work environment and see if it’s actually compatible with your operation.
But whatever you do, make sure that you never lose conviction to the model. Push back will happen. Some employees are just averse to change. However, you have to make them understand why implementing ABW will benefit the whole organisation. In addition, make sure that you don't let a small group of dissenters derail your plans. Instead, get them involved in the discussions and listen to their concerns. You can use their feedback to make appropriate adjustments, but you should never let them dictate the agenda. Commit culturally to the new change and implement a change management plan that will allow for new behaviours to be promoted and embedded through various channels and initiatives.
As you can see, activity-based working is a great way to boost creativity and productivity, creating a friendlier and more empowering work environment, and implement a more efficient and interconnected workplace. If you think activity-based working could work for you, we suggest you start looking at solutions that could you implement it in your business. It could be a real game changer for your organisation moving forward.