Implanting Activity-Based Working (ABW) with employee’s behavior data

Implanting Activity-Based Working (ABW) with employee’s behavior data

Activity-Based working (ABW) is a transformational business strategy that provides people with a choice of settings for a variety of workplace activities, according to Wikipedia definition.

Maybe, you are thinking that ABW is hot-desking but it isn’t. Hot-desking means that employees share workstations but always talking about desks, so, with the focus on furniture. By contrast, ABW assumes that employees have the flexibility to choose between different spaces based on the activity that they are going to do but not only desks. Thus, ABW focuses on people and efficiency. A radical difference.

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ABW approach increases employee’s satisfaction and productivity. In addition, ABW is used as a strategy to retain talent and create more innovative environments. Companies bracing ABW know it really well.

However, there are some disadvantages that is necessary to consider in order to decide introducing this philosophy in your company. According to several research , ABW has some negative impact too:

  • Sometimes employees spend much time looking for a free place or they are not able to find colleagues or build relationships between them.
  • Usually, ABW layouts don’t consider the real use of the space and employee´s preferences. So, it may generate them frustration for not finding the proper place or free workstations when they need it.

Adapting activity-based Working layout to real needs

It’s a fact that ABW has as good impact on organizations. Nevertheless, it is necessary to offset the negative effects. But how can we reduce them?

Firstly, it is necessary to begin analyzing the real use of the space and the needs of our organization.

Secondly, it will be crucial to plan a correct layout based on the collected data from the first step.

Thirdly, a post-change analysis to understand how the new layout is impacting in the productivity and happiness of our employees. And if it is necessary, changes in the new layout should be faced.

For example, we have the following first data from the workplace.

Some conclusions from the data analytics for the new activity-based working layout:

  • Reduce workstations space between 20-40%.
  • Plan size meeting rooms according to use: meeting rooms of 4-5 people, 1 of them bigger about 7-8 people. Probably, some booths for calls.
  • Kitchen space is overused during lunch time. It is necessary to make it bigger but flexible to adapt it for other uses out of this time.
  • Fixed workstations can be transformed in hot-desking.

With these behavior inputs and other ones from an anthropological point of view, we could make a redesign of the layout that better fits with the company flow. But what is even more important is to analyze, before doing the changes, if the new layout and needs match.  

Conclusions of Activity-based working

As we have said in other articles: if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

If we are thinking in making a change in our enterprise strategy don’t forget that workplace design will help or hinder the outcome. So, it is better to start knowing what is happening in our current offices in order to plan a more properly future layout.