Activity-based working (ABW) is quickly becoming the go-to strategy for hybrid offices. And it’s no wonder why — a 2020 study found that after implementing activity-based working, workplace satisfaction increased by 17%, individual productivity rose by 13%, and team productivity rose by 8%.
To see how you can take advantage of this approach to the modern workplace, let’s look at what activity-based working is, how you can implement it, and some expert tips to make it work for you.
What is activity-based working?
While activity-based working has recently come into the spotlight, it actually has its roots back in the 1990s. In his 1994 book, The Demise of the Office, Erik Veldhoen detailed a new way of running an office.
Rather than everyone coming in and sitting where they are assigned, employees would have the option to move around the office. The concept recognizes that during a typical workday, the activities you perform aren’t always typical. Employees engage in all kinds of activities, and the office should be set up to facilitate each activity.
Common examples of activity-based working include silent spaces, meeting spaces, collaboration spaces, learning spaces, and social spaces.
ABW has been an enormous help for businesses looking to get their workers back in the office. Employees no longer have to choose between working at home peacefully or coming into the busy office. If they want to work in peace, they can do so in the office with all the resources they need to get the job done. And if they’re in the mood for some bustling, collaborative energy, that’s available, too.
6 ways to make activity-based working a success
While activity-based working is a great way to give employees everything they need to work effectively, it’s important it doesn’t become a lawless free-for-all. So, with that in mind, we’re going to look at what you should address to ensure your activity-based working office thrives.
Change your mindset
Adapting to change is hard, and different employees will adapt at different paces. It’s important to keep this in mind when implementing activity-based working.
If you’re implementing activity-based working as an incentive to bring employees back to the office, you should be particularly mindful of those who may be more at risk from illnesses such as COVID. While most restrictions have been lifted, the virus (and other illnesses) are still prevalent, and some employees may feel safer working from home.
Choose smarter office design
So, is activity-based working is a design concept or a workplace strategy? It’s both.
As you can imagine, how you design the office space is crucial to making ABW successful. If you simply put up a couple of signs in a huge, open office and expect things to change, you will be sorely disappointed.
There are several ways to create an ABW-suitable office space. Desk-hotelling and movable workstations are great ideas from hybrid offices that can be adapted to activity-based working. You can try out restaurant-style booth seating, private “phone booth” areas for quiet working, and formal meeting rooms to impress visitors.
There are many workspaces to choose from, so our best advice is to work with your employees to find out what’s best for them.
The modern office must be flexible enough to handle anything you throw at it. So when you’re designing your space for activity-based working, make sure you plan for the inevitable reshuffle in a few years.
Choose the right hardware and software
We have so much technology available to help solve almost every issue we might have in the office. Ensuring that your activity-based working set-up works successfully means more than just putting a computer on every desk.
For example, desk booking software puts some organization back into the chaos of a hot-desking workplace. By asking your employees to reserve a workspace before they come into the office, you can ensure that your quiet spaces stay quiet and meeting spaces are available for last-minute conversations.
Every choice matters when decking out your office space — furniture, technology, software — it’s all important for creating a workplace that promotes productivity and collaboration.
Listen to employee feedback constantly
As we mentioned, only some will adapt to change as quickly as you hope. It can take time and guidance to adjust to significant change.
Establishing workplace habits is a great way to ensure your version of activity-based working succeeds. Just be sure to work closely with your employees and listen to their feedback. Only when you give everyone a chance to be heard can you start helping employees adjust to the new changes.
Use workspace data
Aside from talking to employees to learn how the rollout is going, you can use technology to unearth key insights. Desk booking apps, in particular, can offer a huge range of insight into how your employees work within the office. Workplace analytics help you quickly visualize data to identify hotspots within the office and adapt your activity-based working strategy to best reflect real-life workspace usage.
Simplify desk and meeting room booking
With employees moving around the office more frequently, there’s potential for a little chaos. Thankfully, there’s a simple fix.
Desk and meeting room booking software (like Smartway2) can help restore a little normality to a flexible office. Employees are empowered to move around the office as they please, while you maintain a little structure in your workplace. They can easily book a workspace in advance to ensure they can get the job done without fighting others for the same space.
The more your employees use the software, the more insights you can gather to help increase space optimization.
To see how Smartway2’s workplace scheduling software can help you make activity-based working work for your office, get a demo!