Activity Based Work (ABW) became more popular in recent years with the changing landscape of office environments. As mentioned in the previous article, companies are more sensitive to employee needs, and ABW offers greater flexibility and mobility to the way employees work, freeing them to carry out their tasks in a manner most suitable for them—even accommodating to teleworking and collaborating with teams. This new work style comes with more casual spaces, less tethering to desks, and more open rooms for conducting meetings. However, implementing this approach hasn’t been the simplest of tasks.

When interviewing several organisations, Tech Research Asia shared the shifts in technology required to adopt ABW across the office:

  • 90% of organisations removed desktop computers in their offices in favour of mobile devices: laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This required ubiquitous Wi-Fi connectivity and phone number portability.
  • Digitisation and process automation are crucial. On average paper use was reduced from 50% to 90% within six months of adoption. Follow me printing was deployed by 90%, while eight in 10 removed all desktop printers. All had an advanced Managed Print Services (MPS) in place.
  • One in two ABW adopters deploy new document management and editing solutions. Unified Communications and Collaboration tools were also adopted by 70% of organisations.
  • Integration of Audio Visual tools such as projectors, interactive whiteboards and displays, along with meeting room booking systems, were considered critical to an ABW environment.

The Results of ABW

Getting a return on investment from ABW depends on your measure of success. However, 75% of organisations note that they don’t expect to see the full results of their workplace strategy until at least one year after adoption, with many suggesting the cultural change involved means it could take more than three years.

Tech Research Asia also asked business and IT leaders to rate the outcomes they achieved across a range of business objectives on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being a very successful result.

  • Productivity, Talent Management, and Innovation received the highest average rating of eight out of 10.
  • This was followed by Growth, Customer Engagement and Cost Management, with seven out of 10.
  • Risk Management and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) attracted average ratings of six out of 10.

Source: TRA Activity Based Working One-On-One In-Depth Interviews with CXOs at ABW Organisations Across Asia Pacific in 2014/15. N = 25

In particular, examples of ABW adoption and results across countries, include:

  • New Zealand: The bank, ASB, rated ABW’s contribution to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as 10 out of 10. The ASB ABW office requires 20% less physical workspace than a typical office, and is therefore perceived to be more sustainable
  • Singapore: American Express rated Talent Management nine out of 10. American Express saw an increase in retention, with 87% of respondents to an internal survey stating they are satisfied with the way the internal workplace strategy is heading
  • Australia: Fortescue Metals Group rated ABW 10 out of 10 for Growth. Its CIO said ABW was critical to helping support a fast-growth period for the company
  • Japan: Media and digital creative agency, (The) One of Them, rated its adoption of ABW to talent management, productivity and innovation at 10 out of 10

What’s noteworthy is that six in 10 ABW organisations intend to expand their strategies to additional locations as global policies, with all looking to upkeep this work style. However, best results are achieved when all factors of the workplace—physical space, technology, processes, and culture and people—were addressed holistically with a robust change management program. By eradicating manual processes, employees should freely choose where and when they wish to work.

Recommendations

How we work has and will change, with further workplace disruption continuing to arise. Adopting a flexible workplace strategy like ABW can be beneficial, allowing your organisation to adapt to future disruptions. However, mobile and flexible working approaches require a holistic approach. Here are the recommendations Tech Research Asia suggests:

  1. Set a vision and long-term plan: Ensure that all stakeholder perspectives are included, and that plans are solidified only after ample research, such as visiting the offices of those that have already embarked on similar plans. Strategies should also be unique and long-term.
  2. Establish a multi-stakeholder project team and leadership: Don’t leave it to one department. Your strategy should have the complete support of your executives, as well as experienced partners you can trust. Change management and continual optimisation of the work environment is also important; this can help employees move on from static, manual work styles where they are tethered to a desk and burdened with paper workflows, to a fluid and flexible system where digital information are securely accessed from multiple locations.
  3. Evaluate emerging technologies: Consider leveraging third party services, including next generation MPS providers, to accelerate adoption. Make sure the print services provider understands flexible working and can enhance your strategy. Critical steps include evaluating your processes, as well as digitising, securing, integrating, mobilising, automating, and simplifying your environment—all so to minimise barriers to employee access to information.
  4. Remain adaptable: Work is diverse and dynamic. Regardless of the issues you’re addressing today, you should include newer technologies such as robots, AI, drones, 3D printing, Internet of Things devices, and wearables in your plans—so you can anticipate changes in demographics, space design, customer expectations, regulatory change, and more.

Wish to embark on your own ABW journey? Find out more about how our next generation MPS can help your business accelerate your adoption.