Activity-Based Working Part 1: Panacea or Band-Aid

It has well and truly caught on… everyone is rushing to announce their latest and greatest office space that is super funky; open; informal; collaborative; and every other buzz word you can associate with an office fit-out designed for Activity-Based Working (ABW).

The hype seams to stem from a belief that ABW and an open-office environment is the panacea to their space utilisation and employee engagement problems.

However, when I sit down with most organisations who have either completed the transition to an ABW environment or are about to embark on the process, one thing is clear… it is definitely not the panacea and, in fact, is creating new problems that need to be solved. The other really glaring omission, is a very real and clear understanding about what problems the organisation hopes to solve or what is their longer term strategy and vision for their workplace.

Don’t get me wrong, the inherit features associated with an ABW environment like cafes, open spaces, funky designs, etc. are all amazing and are a very quick (albeit expensive) way of lifting employee morale and engagement. The problem is that it’s short-lived if the organisation embarking on the journey do not consider all aspects of what is needed to connect employees with the space around them.

Therefore, I have highlighted a few key questions that organisations need to ask themselves when embarking on the ABW journey:

  1. What is the intent and why are we doing this?
  2. How will we engage with employees and bring them on this journey?
  3. Is the organisation ready?
  4. How will employees connect with each other and the space around them?
  5. What does success look like and how will we measure it?

I'm going to talk more about each of these questions and other areas in my blog over the coming weeks, so stayed tuned!