3 factors to follow when implementing ABW

In June 2016, the Ultimate Property Magazine in New Zealand published our three factors on how to implement ABW the right way. The article can be read in issue 23 of the Bay of Plenty and Waikato Ultimate Property magazine.

Flexible office design is the future

The futuristic interior layout of the new Trustpower building in Tauranga is the latest incarnation of a flexible design trend that is setting new parameters for workplace satisfaction.

No one has his or her own office – executive management and staff members do not even have their own desk. Each day they find a workspace that suits their needs for that day’s tasks – they are free to roam the building to do so, choosing from a variety of smart spaces, all with wireless technology.

Based on recent independent research, Activity-Based Working (ABW) provides flexible workspaces that increase productivity, sense of community, enjoyment of and pride in the workplace.

However, there is a catch – it has to be implemented right to create the necessary level of workplace choice. That is why the Trustpower project was entrusted to Veldhoen + Company – the founder of ABW.

To determine what contributes to that level of choice, and how a building and design community can help to realise it, Veldhoen considers the following three factors.

Factor 1: Flexible buildings

Developers and property owners need to ensure they are creating flexible spaces, with features that promote environmental quality. The research shows that clear, natural light, air-quality, acoustic performance, and so on all contribute to employee effectiveness. Companies are keener than ever to invest in this.

As organisations look to the base building to support their way of working, desirable factors such as higher densities, atriums, larger stairs and blurred lines between internal vs external spaces come to the fore.

Property owners and developers willing to work with organisations to realise and support these attributes and workplace strategies are attracting tenants wanting to invest in top-tier workplaces.

Factor 2: A clear vision

Designers, engineers, builders and allied professionals need to understand the vision for how a company wants to work, and therefore how the physical space could support that.

Executive leaders should answer key questions about “why” they are exploring a new way of working, “how” it should help them and then “what” behavioural changes are required to achieve this.

From here, the correct mix of fixtures and work settings that will help realise that vision are scoped by a workstyle consultant or a change manager. Having these why, how and what questions answered enables a tenant to provide a well-defined brief to designers and architects.

This brief ensures the requirements of the workplace are fully understood. The designers and architects are then free to build on the story and create beautifully designed, fit-for-purpose workplaces.

Time and energy is applied to the creative process rather than to stagnating conversations about “how do you work today”. In addition, this brief helps the client understand why investment in certain areas is crucial, and can limit the deterioration of a concept due to cost concerns.

Factor 3: Integrated programme management

After the design is finished and the build is underway, there needs to be continued focus on communication and planning between parties. An ABW implementation is a large and complex programme with many moving, and interdependent parts. Parts of a business that might not normally talk with each other – HR, Property and IT – as well as third-party service providers, are all holding pieces of the puzzle that have to fit together.

Millie Letori and Zacharey Hogg, Workstyle Consultants at Veldhoen + Company, say the programme management must be focused on integrating the projects across the physical, technology and people spaces to the extent that decisions are shared and understood, as well as continuing to align to the why, how and what of the programme.

“The power of a well-managed ABW implementation is it has at its heart a very clear and focused objective,” they say. “This enables, but also asks, that every design decision is an opportunity for transformation. It gives the design and property community the ability to encourage and support the strategic, and cultural objectives of an organisation in a tangible manner.

“Our extensive research and ABW implementations have brought new energy to many workplaces worldwide, all initiated by clients themselves. At Veldhoen, we tap into that curiosity and desire to create a better company and work experience for decades to come. We are passionate about creating a better world of work.”

Veldhoen + Company has helped more than 250 organisations embrace ABW over the past 25 years.

Other articles, cases or publications about Activity-Based Working in New Zealand:

New Zealands’ first ABW workplace:

Millie Letori Senior Workstyle Consultant
Australia & New Zealand Want to know more? Contact
+61 422 078 671 millie@veldhoencompany.com
Australia & New Zealand Want to know more? Contact
+61 499 773 758 zak@veldhoencompany.com