In the past decade, we have seen the rise of both Activity Based Working (ABW) and the Agile methodology. With Agile emerging predominantly in the IT industry, in IT departments, as a way of working used to help develop software in a better, faster and iterative way. Based on what is known as the Agile Manifesto, this way of working can be applied to all kind of organisations needing to cross silos, develop new products, services or IT solutions in an incremental, focused and learning way.
At the same time, we still see organisations moving toward new ways of working based on increased mobility, working anywhere, any time, with an increase in trust, autonomy and collaboration, and a more in-depth level of coaching and empowerment from leadership. A way of working which is mostly known as Activity Based Working.
Both ultimately define ways of thinking, which can lead to new solutions on:
- how to organise how we work,
- how to support it from a work environment perspective,
- and how to support it from an IT perspective and rules of engagement.
But can Agile co-exist with Activity Based Working?
Some say that these two thinking perspectives are different and ‘cannot co-exist’. They would argue that Agile takes the team perspective as its foundation, whereas ABW focuses on the individual as its foundation. Although there is a level of truth in this, we have found that the there is much more to this than meets the eye. In fact, Activity Based Thinking can be a catalyst for Agile.
Key elements in Agile are an attitude of embracing change, focus on collaboration, empowering individuals and teams, transparency and open communication, simplicity and self-organising capabilities of teams. Activity Based Working aligns completely with this as the key principles are based on trust, treating people like adults and be outcome driven, foster collaboration and choice to be able to perform to your best. A rule of engagement often used in ABW projects is “Work in whatever way makes you most effective providing it doesn’t impact the effectiveness of others”.
Our experience working with both
Over the past few years we have had a number of experiences working with clients around the globe on Activity Based Working and dialogues about how to support Agile teams in those organisations. The requests from our clients have led to the development of a Workstyle Activity Survey tool for Agile teams that enables us to develop new tailor-made Activity Based solutions for Agile teams. Solutions that support the Agile Values, ceremonies and artefacts, as well as the circumstances each individual needs, in order to perform his/her best. We have also done a number of studies on how current Agile teams spaces are being used, and have incorporated this well into our thinking.
Focusing on the needs of each team
So instead of focusing on the differences, focus on the commonalities and then apply Activity Based Thinking whilst appreciating the specific needs of Agile teams. This ability to be nimble, quick to react and frequently change may require a different working pattern and activity cycle but can be very well supported by an Activity Based Work environment with some bespoke Agile collaboration settings. It creates the opportunity to develop great work environments for Agile teams as well as the flexibility to adapt to other ways of working for teams as necessary.
Using our newly developed Activity Workstyle online survey we are able to help organisations on their journey to create a new variety and diversity of workspaces and IT tools that make Agile teams thrive like never before!
If you would like to know more about how ABW and Agile working can work together, drop us a line or contact one of the team below! We’re always happy to share more.
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