Activity-based working is based on a new paradigm where no employee owns desk or office space or has an assigned workstation.
Instead, work is set up around activities that focus on specific tasks. It is also centred on the premise that IT can be based around employee roles, location and work patterns — mobile worker, remote worker and office worker.
There is also a belief that employees not only need the right tool sets to do their jobs. Data and applications need to be accessed securely. The performance and end-user experience must be exactly the same regardless of location inside or outside an office location.
A number of businesses believe digital transformation is a strategy worth pursuing.
While the goals differ wildly, technology is often seen as the main linchpin. It enables businesses to engage customers differently, improve processes or drive new revenues.
But, it does not stop with tech.
There is cultural transformation in play, too, and up to four generations of employees whose attitudes towards work are shifting. This is creating a perfect storm.
Who does it affect?
Activity-based working has a strong link with digital transformation and disruption.
It is not an IT project in the traditional sense, but transformation that is driven by multiple sets of stakeholders.
While each set may fold up into a broader corporate strategy, the individual constituent components will be influenced by lines of business driving towards specific outcomes important to their work.
Technology choice has to support or enable the change management that drives to an outcome. The most successful projects will have executive sponsorship from the beginning and one or more of the following groups working together to deliver outcomes for the business that can be measured over time.
• Human resources: With activity-based working projects, HR is looking to see how it can solve some of the more immediate pain points, such as talent acquisition and retention, and increase employee engagement and collaboration. Typical business outcomes would show an increase in employee satisfaction or recruitment.
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• Facilities management: Activity-based working can often have a strong angle in energy efficiency, the need to reduce service costs and/or lower real estate costs. For example, increasing office utilisation could improve energy efficiency and lower the office footprint. There will also be other quick wins, such as the consolidation of suppliers, or reducing paper costs by installing fewer printers.
• IT department: IT tends to be positioned as the enabler (when it is engaged in these projects) and will look at improving end-user experience, support and training. Pushing out mobile estates will also put additional strain on the network, and IT will need to make sure the right wireless computer network providers are consulted to deliver the ubiquitous connectivity.
• Chief marketing officer: Activity-based working is seen as a way to increase customer experience. For example, visitors to the building may want guess access to wifi or to print, wayfinding systems to navigate a location or access to charging hubs. Indirectly, some organisations are also building up a role for chief customer officer, and they will look at direct correlations between employee and customer satisfaction. There will be a continued focus in these roles to look at technology to drive transformation.
• Executive and board of directors: While executives are not involved with the day-to-day change management, activity-based working is typically set up as part of a broader vision, strategy or company call to action. While many executives’ strategy will feed into steering committees, they will often look at ways of changing the company culture in the journey.
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