One size ABW does not fit all
In the Netherlands, we see many examples of “early” ABW offices in which one general ABW solution is created for the entire organisation. And even though every employee has the freedom to work anywhere, only a small part of the organisation truly works in a flexible way, just like Leesman concluded in their recent ABW research. Many people feel lost in these big anonymous offices, find it hard to connect with their direct colleagues and/or can’t concentrate on their daily work. At the same time, 99% of the employees attest they would never want to go back to the traditional way of working. So, how do we help these organisations to create a workplace and way of working that supports most – if not all – employees?
Rather than trying to force everyone to work as flexible as possible, we have taken the next steps in measuring how people work. This to gain a better understanding of the underlying dynamics of the activities people undertake, and consequently being able to create work environments that might be less flexible, but better tailored to the needs of the employees. We dubbed this: Work dynamics.
- To what degree is the content and/or timing of your work planned?
- Are you able to plan your own day, or do you constantly receive ad hoc questions from your others?
- To what extent does your work revolve around creating new processes/products/services? Etc.
Using a newly developed online survey (the Work Dynamics Scan®), we measure and calculate the work dynamics both on an organizational and team level, to be able to compare teams to the organizational average and to other teams. By bundling teams with similar work dynamics patterns we create distinct work profiles, or personas. Each persona differs vastly from the other personas, and therefore has different needs in the work environment. In “one size fits all” ABW offices only a small portion of the population, or perhaps even no one, finds what they really need in the environment. However, by translating the needs of the different personas into work zones with tailored functional lay outs, we’re able to cater to more – if not all – employees in the organization.
By thoroughly discussing and sharpening the personas with our clients, we increase our understanding of people’s roles in the organization. Our experience from the last years has learned us that the sharper the personas are defined, the higher the recognition on the personas will be and the greater the understanding of functional (design) choices for the future work environment will be. This leads to more satisfied employees, who will know from day one in their new office onwards, why their work zone looks like it does. And as you might know, happy people are more open to changes, than unhappy people.
Does implementing ABW change work dynamics?
The implementation of ABW itself doesn’t change the underlying dynamics of people’s work. Although people will most likely change the way they communicate, due to the increasing flexibility (e.g. calling colleagues while working from home, rather than having face-to-face convo’s in the office). The results of the Work Dynamics Scan® however can not only be used in the creation of the functional layout of the new office, it can also be used as a practical tool to review the way people perform their tasks and effect of current processes on employees. This has helped our clients look at their own work from a new perspective and to gain practical insights into how to improve their way of working.
Interested in how our approach can help your organization? Come and have a chat over a coffee and we would be more than happy to discuss our experiences over the last years!
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