Activity-based working (ABW) gives your employees the freedom to work how, where and when they want. It’s becoming increasingly popular among businesses adopting a relaxed culture and flexible working environment. Traditional offices with one open-plan room or individual offices are far removed from activity-based working. These spaces restrict workers to one floor or workstation and can be detrimental to concentration and productivity.
What is activity-based working?
Activity-based working involves the creation of different rooms and workstations different from your average desk. Each activity area serves a purpose be it for relaxation, concentration or collaboration. This can be in the form of brainstorming rooms full of boards and screens to encourage idea-sharing. It could be breakout rooms with food, drinks, lounge seating or games for workers to enjoy on their lunch. It could be a quiet room with soundproofing, natural lighting and partitions for people that need time away from the office floor.
You don’t need all of these activity areas and it doesn’t have to be entire rooms – this could get expensive for your business. There are plenty of businesses successfully integrating an activity-based working environment. ABW can be introduced in a section of your existing office space. It involves space management, sensory experience, intuitive design. ABW isn’t exclusive to the office environment either. Your employees can choose to work externally from a cafe, hotel, home or library – wherever they do their best and most productive work.
How does it differ from the traditional working model?
The traditional working model can mean different things to different organisations. For some, it’s cubicles that were designed to prevent communication and instil focus. For others, it’s open-plan offices with desks here, there and everywhere. There’s no right way to work; each business is different and has unique objectives that need to be met. But one standout challenge with the traditional working model is rigidity. Only having one place to work can make your employees feel controlled and uncomfortable.
There’s a cultural shift that has to happen so both the employer and employee are comfortable with ABW expectations and way of working. Some employees will push back the notion of an activity-based working model, and others will embrace it. The key is flexibility – giving everyone the ability and access to work however they want.
Employers need to be able to trust employees to work productively in their chosen area. This works both ways, if you’re giving employee’s autonomy, they can’t exploit it. Establishing this connection and mindset comes from communication. Your business needs to give your employees time to get used to the idea of activity-based working and put procedures in place to transition from traditional to ABW. Your business needs to invest in tools, technology, design and education needed to implement ABW in a way that works for everyone.
What are the benefits of activity-based working?
Improved productivity and efficiency
ABW doesn’t just benefit your employees. Activity-based working is all about giving your workers what they need so they can be as efficient and productive as possible. If your staff feel supported, they’re likely to produce great quality work and reward your business with their loyalty. With activity areas to hold private calls, important meetings or to spend a couple of hours without distractions, they can work quickly without compromising quality.
Increase recruitment and retention
Workplaces filled with culture are the businesses that seem to attract the most attention from talent. Autonomy and freedom to work flexibly is an attractive selling point for anyone searching for a new job. Your existing staff are likely to stay with your business if their needs are met with the right support and resources.
Improved mental and physical wellbeing
Workplaces have a significant impact on mental and physical wellbeing. Uncomfortable furniture that doesn’t support proper posture can lead to neck and back pain. Stark, artificial lighting can cause eye strain and headaches. With a workplace designed to encourage movement and peace, workers’ health and wellbeing will increase greatly.
Stronger ideas and innovation
Providing your team with resources and time will help them create stronger ideas. ABW gives employees the space to brainstorm, collaborate and share innovation. This’ll lead to more communication between team members, departments and have bottom-line benefits for your business.
Activity-based working won’t be for every business, but its benefits to employers and employees are clear. By instilling flexibility throughout your workspace, you give greater autonomy and responsibility to your workers. They’ll reward your organisation with productivity and efficiency which will ultimately increase business revenue.
Talent will be attracted to your positive culture that supports mental and physical health. ABW is a great opportunity for your business to grow stronger employee relationships. You can gain a deeper understanding into your team’s wants and needs to build a stronger future for your business.