During the work day we usually deal with various tasks. We read and reply to e-mails, we make phone calls to our contractors, deal with paperwork, work on current projects or design new, creative solutions. Not all of these activities are best done behind a typical desk – and this is the idea for activity-based working (ABW).
An office space designed according to ABW is not divided into individual work stations, but into areas allocated for specific tasks. The optimal solution is joining comfortable desks in quiet rooms; open, wide rooms ideal for meetings and "brain storming" relax areas and smaller meeting rooms, as well as other rooms connected to the character of the business. The ABW concept is to create an office in which an employee can find the perfect space for dealing with their current task.
Chaos or the perfect solution
An employee using an open office on the basis of activity-based working does not have one allocated desk. They may feel confused at first, not knowing where to put their belongings or how to organise their work hours. Space arrangement allows for an effective use of time with clearly designed rooms, assigned for specific purposes. Meetings with other employees and talking in a relaxed atmosphere have a positive influence on creativity. Tasks requiring peace and quiet can be performed in rooms allocated specifically for them, remote work is also encouraged, which often helps with performing specific activities.
This concept helps to create a more stimulating work environment - says Henrik Axell, concept developer ABW at Kinnarps. An office space adapted to various types of work, enabling brief, spontaneous meetings makes us work more creatively. Our Next Office concept – ABW combines all of these benefits, putting the employer's needs first. We believe that this attitude will be an absolute must in offices of the future – he says, referring to Kinnarps' offer.
Benefits and risks
A space adapted to the concept of ABW allows for saving up to 1/3 of space. It translates into financial benefits for the company, achieved also through increasing the employees' productivity. Within a company in which many employees perform remote work, the older pattern of work stations, based on a defined, specific structure and space division does not work out. ABW advises one to concentrate on the number of employees that are present in the office on a given day. It translates into such an arrangement, which can be adapted to a given number of people, as well as to the character of of the tasks performed by them.
The concept has many supporters, but many critical voices can also be heard. Noise connected to the open space premises may be a problem, associated with a activity-based working by many. This issue can be solved not only by modern acoustic systems, but also by professionally designed spaces. It is a fact that ABW arrangement pattern will not work in every company, particularly if tasks of all the employees are based on individual work. The concept has been approved and successfully introduced within such concerns as Microsoft, Cisco and Google. It is to be expected that also in Poland this trend will begin to demonstrate itself in an increasing number of places, as a way of improving the employees' efficiency and creativity.