Regardless of industry, size, or location, businesses are always changing and evolving in an effort to better their organization. Companies that innovate or keep abreast with industry trends and standards are more likely to find success than those that become complacent.

If a business seeks to cut costs, employ more efficient processes, or build a better work culture, there are various ways to achieve these goals. An employee can be appointed to identify unnecessary budgetary items, processes and workflows can be reviewed for glitches or time sinks, and team-building exercises can be employed. However, what about something that could tick all those boxes?

Activity based working is gaining traction in businesses throughout the world due to the many benefits of the open office concept and unassigned office workstations.

What is Activity-Based Working?

Activity-based working (ABW) is when an office buys into the idea that no employee has an assigned or permanent workstation. Instead of new or used cubicles or even office benching, the workspace is divided into defined activity areas that employees can use to perform specific tasks, like collaborating, learning, or even socializing. Instead of spending all day in one location, employees select the office workstations that best fit their current needs.

The Positives and Negatives of ABW

Pro: Efficient Use of Space
The activity-based working model makes space more efficient and adaptable. With no individually assigned workstations and an emphasis on breakout areas, space can be better utilized for the task at hand. Additionally, ABW allows companies to oftentimes cut down on the number of workstations they need by accounting for remote workers who do not spend each day in the office. Instead of purchasing a new desk and new office chair that remain empty a few days every week, another employee is able to use that workspace since nothing has been assigned. This truly opens an office up and helps create a more team-friendly atmosphere.

Pro: Cut Down on Costs
As mentioned, ABW can reduce the number of workstations needed and result in decreased office furniture costs which are a massive expense for any size business. Also, more efficient use of space (and potentially a smaller space) typically results in a lower carbon footprint and total energy consumption. With these decreases comes lower energy bills and potentially lower occupancy costs.

Pro: Improved Efficiency
Activity-based working can make it easier for employees to manage their time effectively. The presence of designated areas for specific functions helps to clearly divide tasks, eliminating distractions and helping employees focus on what is at hand. For some employees, the simple fact they get to move around to different areas throughout the day can keep things feeling fresh and help them to refocus and remain productive.

Con: Initial Cost
Whether a company is moving or looking to implement an ABW setup in their current location, it is unlikely that a business has the necessary office furniture on hand. And while activity-based working does allow businesses to cut down on office furniture needed, there are still upfront costs to get the proper solutions in place for implementation. A trusted office furniture dealer can help a lot in this scenario, but upfront costs can deter some companies from moving to this model.

Con: Potentially Stressful
While ABW is great for creating shared spaces that promote teamwork, it could also cause stress for some employees. Not having a designated spot or losing the ability to personalize a workspace could negatively impact how some employees view their job. Additionally, some employees may simply find the ABW environment distracting compared to a more fixed model, which could certainly hurt productivity.

Is ABW a Fit for Your Company?

For some businesses, the answer to this question might be obvious. However, even if you think it could benefit your team, it’s important to analyze your current space and operations before making the jump. For larger businesses, the “70/30” rule predicts that 70% of available workspace will be used on any given day. Use this rule as a stepping stone, and work from there to analyze your current setup and determine if the ABW model truly is the right move for your business and its employees.

If you’re debating the move to activity based working, we invite you to reach out to us! Our in-house office design services have plenty of experience in this area and can help you determine if the move to ABW is right for your company. Contact us today to speak with one of our representatives in Pittsburgh.