Activity Based Working: is it just saving on housing?

For a long time, Activity Based Working was only about saving on housing. But redecorating the office alone will not be enough; an open office space doesn’t automatically mean that your employees will start working differently too.

Activity Based Working can lead to a 25% increase in productivity, according to ABM Microsoft in The New York Times. But if you want to start working more efficiently, you will have to tackle the worn-in routines and habits from your employees. You have to teach people to consciously shape the way they work, and adjust where necessary.

In this blog we are going to show you how Activity Based Working changes the way you work and the way Veldhoen + Company operates to achieve better ways of working in your organization!

Work better, smarter and faster

The need for Activity Based Working almost always starts with the desire for cheaper housing. But if you expect your employees to perform better, without helping them to be a part of the change in space, your employee satisfaction will be hugely under pressure. What you want is to inspire and empower your people to work better, smarter and faster, while working in a renewed and cheaper environment.

Activity Based Working gives you the tools and encouragement to do just that by dusting off old habits and routines with training, coaching and workshops. As housing is now and will be be an important instrument to enforce organizational change in a positive way, Activity Based Working also helps you create an environment and space that embodies your organisation’s culture, vision and values. With new workspaces like libraries and cafes, or a brainstorm- or coordination room you’ll inspire people to get moving. Physically ánd mentally.

Empty inbox, empty mind

The more stuff we want to do at the same time; texting, emails, research, the less effective we work. People are not made to multitask. Most knowledge workers go home every night with their minds boiling over; fifty unopened emails, and tasks still left to be finished the next morning.

Activity Based Working can help alleviate this by giving people the opportunity to make more conscious decisions. Are they joining in on that weekly meeting, or not? Does that meeting improve the way they work? The freedom to take these kinds of decisions themselves lets them leave the office on Friday with an empty inbox, and an empty mind.

Research shows that people who work Activity Based feel less “full” more often, and don’t have to answer emails while at home on the sofa in the evenings. This means healthier, happier and ultimately more effective employees. That is, if you implement ABW the right way: not just focus on housing, also on routines and habits while working.

To most clients I’ll recommend what I do myself. After waking up and taking a quick shower, I reserve an hour for my emails. This means my inbox will not get in the way anymore for at least two hours. On Fridays I work from home. This day is meant for working stuff out, which definitely leads to gaining time in the future.

Fun, balance and effectiveness

When people have the bigger picture in mind, they might choose not to spend an hour and a half in traffic to go into the office today, and. Instead, they might share their home for a meeting, to save time and troubles for everyone. The work ethic that comes with Activity Based Working gives people these options. Their choices will affect the way they perceive their job, are they having fun, is the work – life balance okay, and are they effective?

Activity Based Working frees you up to let people decide for themselves. When you let people decide, collaboration will improve. This way, you can up your game. After all, shared office space is less expensive than individual work space. Shared office space, in our dictionary, means spaces where people create something together, brainstorm, debate, have one on ones or do a stand up every morning.

When people are given the opportunity to choose how they work, it’s easy to implement Activity Based Working. They will stay connected to their co-workers and their manager.

How does Veldhoen + Company work?

Veldhoen + Company conducts an online survey; no stone is left unturned. This survey will show us how people work, and how much of that is routine. It shows us what kind of work they do, how they plan their activities, what kind of activities involve and require colleagues, and what percentage of their day is spend on their own or with co-coworkers.

We measure how much space is needed for the employees to optimize their work. This way we can build a foundation. Build to make people work better. We’ve been doing this for a year and a half now, for over ten thousand respondents, and patterns are showing.

Categorizing ways of working

The patterns we find in organizations, of the way their people work, are categorized. Depending on your company, this can vary from five up to twenty categories. Most of the time it turns out that people very well know how to improve. But improvement options and solutions differ for each work style.

The “old” way of working is one size fits all: one housing solution, and the same rules for everyone. Also, the implementation of Lean or Agile is under pressure. Our research shows that making the entire organization work with Lean doesn’t work. Some categories benefit from a stand-up meeting in the morning, but some don’t.

Activity Based Working shifts the attention from purely housing and cost reduction to the different needs and different ways of working. Besides, it’s a fact that the number of square meters doesn’t matter when it comes to employee satisfaction. It even shows that once you arrange work per category, the number of square meters can essentially go down.

Segmentation of consultation

More and more clients make a more conscious distinction in what they do together, and what they do alone. Previously, much was arranged during endless meetings. They would start with summing up the action points, then everyone explains what they have done this week and finally the team holds a short brainstorm to improve the work process.

In this example we would advise to separate these subjects. For example, arrange a meeting that only involves a brainstorm, only involves the start of the week (or day) or only involves project coordination. This way only the people who are supposed to be involved, are present.


Our approach leads to people going home with an empty mind and an empty inbox. It combines well with working Lean and Agile, it grows work fun, betters the work life balance and lets your people work more efficiently in cheaper housing.

For more about this project please contact Roel Geenen

Roel Geenen

The Netherlands

Want to know more?Roel Geenen

+31 6 15025788[email protected]

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If you have a traditional workplace, your workpoints are 50-75% unoccupied.Erken diversiteit medewerkers