Why Activity-Based Working Is the Future of Work

The past two years of the pandemic have seen sweeping changes in the workplace, with some likely to leave an indelible mark on organisations around the world. For starters, the sudden yet successful shift to remote work proved that the traditional nine-to-five working day is no longer the most effective way to get things done.

Companies like Salesforce, for example, are shifting away from the conventional office and giving employees the flexibility in how, when and where they work. Workers at the company have three options:

  1. Flex — Even with the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, Salesforce employees will only have to be in the office one to three days every week for meetings, collaboration work and presentations. This arrangement is also known as hybrid work
  2. Fully Remote — Employees who don’t live near Salesforce’s offices or have roles that don’t require in-office work can choose to work remotely full-time.
  3. Office-based — Finally, a small population of the company’s workforce will continue to work full-time in the office if required by their roles. 

The company is also redesigning their workspaces as community hubs to facilitate a more hybrid environment. Salesforce is replacing traditional desks with more collaborative spaces, such as breakout rooms and shared desks that foster organic connection and teamwork.

While revolutionary, this reimagining of the workplace is hardly new. In fact, this workspace concept was pioneered in 1994 by Dutch consultant Erik Veldhoen, who called it activity-based working

What Is Activity-Based Working?

Activity-based working (ABW) is a style that takes advantage of these advances, and it’s quickly becoming the new normal in workplaces worldwide.

ABW allows employees to choose when and where they work, as long as they complete their tasks, meaning that workers can take breaks when needed, and they’re not tied to their desks all day. Studies have shown that this type of flexible working can lead to increased productivity and creativity, as well as better work/life balance.

What to Consider When Shifting to Activity-Based Working

Advances in technology, which have made it possible for people to work remotely and flexibly, have been instrumental in keeping ABW alive over the years. But with COVID-19-related restrictions no longer in effect in many parts of the world, many employers returning to the office are looking at following in Salesforce’s footsteps. 

Businesses need to do a few things to make the transition to ABW successful. 

  • First, you need to provide employees with the right tools and resources, such as laptops and access to company files from anywhere. Your physical workspaces, on the other hand, should facilitate collaboration and communication — hallmarks of ABW.
  • Second, your organisation needs to create a culture of trust, where employees are given the freedom to work how they want as long as they’re meeting their goals. This process must begin at the top — your leadership must encourage open feedback from workers. 
  • And finally, businesses need to have clear policies in place so that everyone is on the same page. These policies include when employees should be in the office and why, how to use available office spaces, and what technology and tools are at their disposal to be productive. 

Making the switch to activity-based working can be a big change for businesses, but it’s one that comes with a lot of benefits. If you’re looking for a way to improve your workplace, ABW is definitely worth considering.