With the growth of technology that allows employees to work anywhere, a new workplace trend called “activity-based working” has emerged. Activity-based working (or ABW) redefines the purpose and function of the modern office and gives it a focus on different work “spaces” designed for different activities rather than individual, static desk locations. The basic idea behind ABW is that it views the office not simply as a place where employees work, but as a place where employees solve problems. The workspace is where ideas are created, discussed and shared, and this can only be done when people with different ideas, focuses and jobs address the various angles to a problem that a single employee or department might not be able to identify alone.
To achieve this, employers create “agile work environments” where employees are encouraged to use the space best equipped for their current work activity. These seating areas might be desks or isolated working areas, but they also might be small “huddle spaces” for quick collaborations, conference rooms, auditoriums or a variety of other collaborative spaces. By having open desk areas that aren’t dedicated to particular employees or departments, workers are more likely to move around, have casual encounters with colleagues from different departments and cross-share information that leads to more innovation for the company.
One example of an organization seeing real results with this approach is Bankwest. The company’s Bankwest Place building in Perth, Australia features cutting-edge technology that enables strong connectivity and collaboration in a total of 140 spaces across 14 floors. Bankwest’s ABW strategy is to ensure collaboration technology is available to all 2,700 employees working at Bankwest Place, feeling that presentation systems shouldn’t be tucked away in the executive suite or on the client floor. This is essential to employee engagement and retention, which in turn drives innovation and excellence in customer service. AMX’s Resource Management Suite and Enova Digital Media solutions are integral to achieving this concept for Bankwest.
Another company utilizing agile working philosophies is ASB, a leading commercial bank in New Zealand. ASB’s goal is to achieve innovation and sustainability in their buildings, with the aim to promote a sense of activity and an environment that supports the well-being of their people. Technology has been a key component of this approach at their North Wharf development and HARMAN is relied upon for intuitive, easy to use systems in each of their meeting and collaborative locations. Access to areas suiting differing work styles is key to ASB’s office design, and the building layout allows staff to choose where they want to work (and with whom) depending on their task that day.
Of course, the activity-based working concept extends beyond a single building, as web conferencing technologies allow employees to collaborate with anyone, anywhere—instantly. At ASB, for example, staff is encouraged to use any of three campus buildings, depending on who they need to meet with and which location will be most convenient to them. Conferencing has also been key in enabling teams at these locations to meet with each other easily regardless of which office each person has gone to that day. This is an increasing trend for web conferencing in ABW environments. While the technology can save hours of cross-country travel, it can also cut down on the invisible waste of multiple 20-30 minute journeys across large campuses and the work disruption that these treks cause.
Agile work environments have redefined how modern employees work. With a focus on casual, impromptu meetings and instant collaboration, activity-based working encourages employees to work together and choose the right space for each task. However, for the approach to be effective, companies must implement the right technology to make it happen. Thankfully, HARMAN’s range of collaboration solutions allows employees to quickly work together and share ideas in the office or around the globe.
You can learn more about how technology can facilitate agile working environments in the HARMAN white paper, Using Technology to Fuel Activity-Based Working: The Power of Collaboration in an Office Without Desks.
S. Kyle Davis has been involved in AV in one way or another for 20 years, working as an audio engineer in various capacities, as well as a university AV tech, camera operator and live video producer. An integrated AV solutions expert and avid fan of technology in all its forms, Kyle is a Content Marketing Strategist for HARMAN Professional Solutions. Follow Kyle on Linkedin and Twitter.