How to make activity based working work for your organisation

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The powerful combination of globalisation and digitalisation means when and where we work is becoming more and more irrelevant. If you combine this with the drive to improve productivity and efficiency whilst at the same time reduce costs and improve operational efficiencies, not to mention the impact of millennials entering the workforce, you can understand why we are seeing a rise in companies adopting activity based working.

In this blog, we explore what activity based working is, the benefits it can bring and the key considerations any business looking to adopt activity based working should bear in mind.

What is activity based working?

Through activity based working employees are able to use a variety of different working spaces to complete the task at hand rather than working at an assigned workstation and in a particular way.

What benefits does activity based working bring?

With activity based working comes significant cost savings as often the physical office space can be reduced and all space can be used more effectively and efficiently. Even when you factor in the initial cost of re-designing the space to create an activity based working office, ROI can still be achieved. Activity based working also works on the premise that employees don’t have to always be in the office, so once again this brings space reduction savings as well as travel and transport savings.

Activity based working delivers improved employee collaboration and productivity as it measures employees on output rather than time spent in the office. By trusting employees and giving them the right space, tools, and technology they are empowered to manage their day-to-day activities and have the freedom to work in the right teams in order to perform at their best.

Furthermore, organisations who adopt activity based working benefit from improved employee wellbeing, satisfaction and a better sense of work-life balance. Again, this relates to trust, empowerment, and freedom given to employees to manage their day-to-day lives. Happy, healthy and loyal employees are essential to a successful business, which in turn delivers further cost savings; think of the loss in productivity as the result of sick days taken each year not to mention those related to employee attrition and recruitment.

What are the main considerations when it comes to activity based working?

Without doubt, the most important foundation for successful implementing and sustaining activity based working is ensuring that your business has a clear vision, values, and strategy. Engaging with your employees right from the start is important. Full support and backing from senior leadership are essential as is ensuring that everyone within the organisation fully understands why they are adopting activity based working and what the desired outcomes are. These need to be clearly communicated and brought into by everyone in the business. Crucially, all employees must feel that they have a voice, that they are part of the process and that they can truly influence the final outcome. Critical to the successful adoption of activity based working is fostering the right, positive mindset, adapting the company culture, communication channels, and business processes.

Each company is different with its own unique DNA and culture, it’s important to adopt activity based working styles that specifically meet your own company’s needs and desires. This means that right at the very beginning of the process, you dedicate ample time and attention to researching and understanding the company, culture, working practices and requirements of activity based working in order to create the right space to facilitate that work. There is definitely not a one size fits all approach when it comes to activity based working.

The research informs the physical space requirements and enables you to embark on evidence-based design. Varied “we” workspaces from collaboration spaces, casual or ‘drop-in’ meeting spaces as well as fully equipped meeting rooms, inspiration and innovation zones, relaxation areas coupled with “I” workspaces such as quiet booths and contemplation zones where technology and talking are kept to minimum, are the typical types of activity based settings you can expect.

It’s important when combining activity based working with reduced desk ratios, hot desking, hoteling, and free address policies to bear in mind evidence and research which suggests that people naturally prefer to have their own space, which they can personalise and use how they wish. If not managed carefully, this can negatively impact on employee satisfaction, productivity and a sense of loyalty; highlighting the importance of good research and engaging with employees before commencing on the road to activity based working.

Technology is also extremely important when it comes to activity based working. Fast networks, seamless connectivity, and common systems are a must as is a company mindset of using technology to its fullest potential in order to enhance communication, collaboration and productivity. This means going way beyond email and instant messaging and enabling unified communications, seeing video conferencing as a norm and continuing to adopt new and better ways of utilising technology to improve business communications and practices. We love the latest in global communication: wormholes.

For activity based working to be truly successful, it’s important to appreciate that it’s a gradual change, often one that is accompanied by a cultural change, and one that will also evolve with time. As experts in the field, CMI Workplace wholly believe that creating a culture that is based on trust, empowerment and shared responsibility coupled with giving your employees the freedom and support to work in this way will mean that with time, open communications, effective technology and the right physical space, you will reap the benefits of activity based working for a long time to come.


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