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ABW and our analogy with the house

13 August 2015

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When we start talking about the philosophy of Activity Based Working (ABW) with clients, many would admit to not knowing what to expect and to having some misconceptions. There is an unknown and therefore potentially fearful anticipation about the upcoming change. Albeit an unknown rather than an unwillingness to know.

So having gone on this journey with many clients, we have been told that our analogy of the house is a great way of understanding ABW and helping put to rest the misconceptions. So we would like to share with you two misconceptions in particular, about ABW, through our analogy of living in a house.

  • misconception 1 : You only have one choice of setting at work
  • misconception 2 : ABW is a formula, a one-size-fits-all solution


ABW misconception 1:


You only have one choice of work setting

If we put this into the context of living in a house, we know that when we have a shower or a bath, its done in a bathroom. The bathroom is perfectly equipped for that task or activity. Just as when we cook, we do it in the kitchen. We relax in the living room and we sleep in the bedroom. We have a choice, and in doing so we don’t tend to bathe in the garage.


Explaining this choice of activities and place encourages people to feel relieved. It’s easier to identify that it is not comparable to a hot desk concept, where you have only one choice of work setting. Where such settings tend to be the same, where they usually support one kind of activity, and where they are not acoustically or visually supported.

In an ABW work environment you are precisely offered the different work settings that are best suited for the activities and tasks to be executed. And yes, as in the house, most of these settings you will share with the other occupants. And why not?


ABW misconception 2 :


ABW is a formula, a one-size-fits-all solution

Well in the context of how we live at home, have you ever seen two houses anywhere in the world being exactly the same, both inside and out? No home is exactly the same. All the occupants will have different tastes and want to impart their different personalities and preferences in how they live.


This is why we recommend companies become very clear in what they aspire to be and how they manifest it by applying the ABW philosophy. There are no other organisations that will have precisely the same vision, the same people; aspirations; conceptual designs or solutions as yours.

By engaging in an educational and inspiring way with everyone in the organisation you will be able to create your own unique and energising process in building your new “house" that manifests all of this. Through a new way of working that embodies your values, beliefs and desired interactions in a positive and non-fearful way.

In conclusion...

ABW is a philosophy that enables you to create a workstyle and work environment that is right for you and your organisation. Its not about simply changing the look and feel of a place, without identifying the vision that's true to the organisation and understanding the activities that will help you achieve that vision. If we think about it simply, its just like how we live life at home!

If this has triggered you to think how your organisation could redefine how it works, give me a call. 

Alternatively read more about how an inspiration session can be the first step, or take a look at one of our previous posts 'The courage to embark on a path to change'.

Gijs Nooteboom


Managing director
Australia & New Zealand
+61 499 553 608

Join in the conversation with us, and let us know what you think...


Ultimately, we will work with you to create a unique culture and environment where people will have the space to thrive, the freedom to genuinely connect with one another and will proudly work as a part of your organisation.