How activity-based working could transform your business

Think Progress Team

Monday 12 October 2015

Activity based working (ABW) is empowering employees and rewarding businesses. We explore just what it is and what it could do for you and your organisation.

The ‘Out of office’ email has been the source of amusement and frustration ever since it was introduced. It’s a concept from the 80s, where not being present meant not being productive. But in a new shift made possible by the advancements of the cloud, organisations like Microsoft, Google and a whole host of smaller enterprises are realising that employees no longer need to be shackled to the desk to be productive. It’s called activity-based working (ABW) and it could transform your business.

Simply put, ABW provides a secure infrastructure and solid technology that decouples the individual from a fixed workplace or workstation.

Over recent years remote working has risen by 37 per cent in the private sector and 47 per cent in the public sector. But ABW is more than remote working, it’s about recognising that the old workplace doesn’t work for the new challenges organisations face.

ABW is about challenging culture and trusting employees and it’s about investing in technology and reaping the rewards.

Changing culture

In Microsoft’s brand new Amsterdam office workers can choose any desk, logging on through WLAN or using a docking station. On any one day employees could find themselves sat next to the CEO or his PA. All are encouraged to chat and interact, working side by side.

Besides breaking down organisational silos, this approach enables the quick establishment of virtual teams, essential in dealing with urgent challenges across an organisation.

It also eases communications. There’s also no hiding behind the email wall – you can pick up your laptop and find a seat next to your contact. In fact, ABW is significant in its ability to improve communications and introduce leaner and more efficient processes.

Secure connections

A successful ABW implementation demands a secure and solid infrastructure that can deal with the massive processing challenge. The system functions by allowing all staff to have access to information at all times and from all locations, a situation only made possible by the cloud.

In itself this is a benefit for the business, with 24/7 connectivity essential, particularly when dealing with clients across borders and continents.

The rise of ABW also has to be seen in the context of our shift toward mobile devices, and our desire to use these for business. The rise in the popularity and power of mobile devices means they’re suitable for business use. Coupled with increasing numbers BYOD and CYOD programmes, ABW isn’t just breaking down silos it’s about providing the sort of access that employees – and employers – benefit from.

Strategic focus

In the world of ABW, the IT function isn’t solving problems, it’s finding solutions – and it’s all done at a strategic level.

It’s no surprise that the increasing demands of ABW on IT teams is finally seeing the function being represented in the boardroom. For those in the know it’s a position that should have happened sooner.

The responsibility for ABW sees the IT function become mission critical – essential to the success and survival of a business. It’s recognition that’s well deserved and well earned.