What is Activity Based Working (ABW)?

Thursday, 20th February 2014

What is Activity Based Working (ABW)?

What is Activity Based Working (ABW)?

It is a workplace strategy that provides people with a choice of settings for a variety of workplace activities. It allows people to locate themselves in a physical sense to the setting that is most suitable to complete their work. In such a strategy, spaces are created to support different types of work, e.g. informal meetings, formal meetings or focus intense work, thus allowing flexibility in working styles of your employees.

So why the move to ABW?

There are a number of trends which are increasing the number of organisations moving towards ABW. These include:

  • Sustainability – a company’s commitment to being green
  • Globalisation – adapting to different cultures
  • Aging population – catering to professionals from untapped pools e.g. women, retired etc.
  • Innovation – fosters collaboration

Companies who have implemented an ABW strategy to address the above have mentioned its ability to support business objectives and growth, create brand differentiation and drive talent retention & attraction. However it is interesting to note that these business benefits were not always the most important drivers in implementing an ABW strategy. Improving the sustainability credentials of a workplace was also noted as a top priority. ABW aims to improve space utilisation rates of offices which will have both environmental and financial benefits.

The most successful applications of ABW have been to organisations of knowledge workers of varied work styles and business sectors that are evolving quickly and experiencing rapid change.

How to become an Activity Based Workplace?

There are essential factors to consider when thinking about implementing an effective ABW program and it is worth noting that ABW is not for every organisation.

  1. Your organisation needs to choose the right timing for implementation of  ABW. Such times may be during a merger, cultural change, restructures, moving into a new building or when implementing new technology.
  2. You need to consider the business needs. When considering ABW you must be sure it is the correct path for your business. This course of action must be aligned with the business’ vision in order to gain the best results and acceptance from your co-workers.
  3. You must understand your surroundings. These especially include the social/cultural and age demographics of your workforce. These will all heavily affect your ABW strategy and how it is implemented. Additionally ABW requires a high level of technology within the concept, e.g. all employees to be working on laptops and high-tech meeting spaces including smart board etc.
  4. A change management program is essential when implementing an ABW program. Employees/staff should be consulted prior to the institution of such a concept and consulted the whole way through, including coaching as how best to use the new spaces. Tactics associated with change management include, focus groups, change readiness surveys, executive coaching and employee forums just to name a few.
  5. And finally execution is key. This includes thorough consultation with both your workforce and the company you employee to carry out of workplace vision.

If you would like to find out more about the possibility of an Activity Based Workplace within your organisation, contact Axiom Projects today to have one of our talented consultants answer your questions or discuss its implementation within your workplace.