4 Quick Tips on Implementing Activity Based Working (ABW)

What is Activity Based Working?

Activity based working (ABW) is creating an office space where employees don’t have their own assigned desks but instead are able to use areas based on their work needs of the day.

Some people who work in an open-plan office think they are in an activity based working environment. This is not the case.

An open plan office is just a traditional office layout with fewer walls and pieces of furniture. An ABW workspace creates areas to maximise cooperation between workers and thus the overall productivity of the business. It is a flexible working environment.

In an ABW set-up you might have team desks, conference spaces, phone areas, quiet rooms, brainstorming areas, a lounge and working areas. There could be seated or standing workspaces.

These areas can include spaces for collaboration, socialising, focusing or learning. Depending of the needs of the employee for that day, they will head to the work area that suits them best. Each design is unique to the business in question. And it is because the ABW design is so radically different to other officer layouts and designs which make it so popular.

How to Develop an Implementation Plan for ABW

One of the best ways to implement ABW is to use the discover, define, design and deliver approach. Let’s explore each one…

1. The discovery phase

First, you need to make sure you have the data to back up your idea for ABW, and this will be unique depending on how your business operates.

Look at which workspaces are currently being used, which areas are used in excess and which spaces are under-utilised. Also, which workers spend the most times at their desks and who uses the meeting rooms the most?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll need to have a think about your company’s goals. Does it prioritise innovation? Or does it want to improve its communication? All this will influence the design.

Next, conduct a short survey with your staff to discover the areas of the office that employees love and loathe. This will give you a distinct indication of the areas in your office that should be emphasised with your new design.

2. The define phase

The next phase in the ABW process is about figuring out the details. This includes defining your workplace budget and strategy.

To do this, first draw up a budget and get it approved. Next, ask for quotes from various companies to find the best one that suits your budget.

Following this, have a workplace strategy in place to define how you’ll get the project laid out, agreed and signed off on.

Once you’ve defined all these areas, think past the initial design stage and consider what new furniture and IT costs may be, and draw up a defined budget for these.

3. The design phase

This is the possibly the most enjoyable phase of the ABW implementation. Work with a design expert to help you draw up the best plans for your office space. Consider how many people you’ll be accommodating and future capacity sizes.

Next, make sure you include all the related work areas you’ll need – such as collaboration points, quiet focus areas, mobile phone booths and so on. Include ample storage space in these designs, for things such as individual lockers and bike racks.

Once you’ve got these design elements down pat, commission 3D drawings to show you exactly what the new space will look like, and create some mood boards to decide on colour schemes.

4. The delivery phase

This is the final stage of the ABW process. Here, you will need to make sure you have deadlines in place to roll out the new design. Decide on the dates that you’ll implement the new design. Who needs to be there? Will the employees need to vacate the area?

Next, organise the project management of the job with a detailed Gantt chart that will dictate each stage of the fit out project.

At this point, you’ll be ready to proceed with you ABW project – good luck!