Complete Guide To Activity-Based Work In Australia

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Last updated: May 24th, 2024

activity based work

Last updated: May 24th, 2024

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Endless rows of cubicles, constant overtime and micromanagement: Does any of this ring a bell? Some workplaces in Australia still run like that. But change is coming. Activity-based working is just around the corner.

On average, Australians work four days per week, one of which is from home.

The progressive (and likely permanent) transition to hybrid workplaces has also prompted business leaders to redefine the office purpose and layouts.

Over 50% of HR leaders now view the office as a primary space for collaborative working, innovation and creativity.

Amidst the ongoing talent crunch, employers are also more focused on supporting the needs of their staff to keep them engaged and productive.

Combined, these trends propelled the transition to activity-based work in Australia.

(Related: 7 Career Ideas For Aussies Working From Home).

What Are The Benefits Of Activity-Based Working?

activity based workspaces in australia

Activity-based work environments assume major office layout changes (read capital expenditure).

Why bother?

Because your investments in better office space translate to ROI.

1. Team Productivity Gains.

Fact: Happy workers are at least 13% more productive. And what makes people happy? Loads of things, but most often comfort (physical and mental).

ABW environments are designed to minimise the oh-so-familiar annoyances of big office spaces: Noisy cubicle neighbours, lack of privacy, busy common areas and crowded lunch spaces.

  • Employees are more productive in a space that suits their needs and preferences.

A 2020 survey by Veldhoen + Company found that activity-based working boosts individual productivity by 12% and team productivity by 8%. These can easily cover the office remodelling bill.

2. Better Work-Life Balance.

Two million Aussies have already quit their jobs in 2022 — and more will soon follow.

Why? Because most are burnout and fed up with the corporate nightmare of endless meetings, unpredictable hours and pressing commitments.

(Related: The Real Cost Of Executive Burnout).

Activity-based working emphasises flexibility.

Employees are not chained to an assigned desk, which allows for a better work-life balance and, in turn, reduces turnover.

By designing their own hours, many can fit more personal tasks into the day, rather than stay put in the office for no good reason.

3. Higher Employee Engagement.

Employee engagement is another key factor behind quitting. Disengaged workers won’t stay with your company for long.

At present, 68% of Australian and New Zealand employees feel engaged at work.

Activity-based working can help improve those scores tremendously.

How To Implement Activity-Based Working?

Activity-based work (ABW) is an operating model that encourages people to select the optimal style and place for work, based on the assigned tasks.

  • Multiple settings are the name of the game.

Your people can work autonomously from home or a coworking space, meet up in the office for joint sessions, or stay on-premises for the entire day.

Some companies assign a designated area for calls and virtual meetings, while others invest in areas equipped with standing desks and treadmill desks.

activity based work

Above: Four types of hybrid work settings. Source: Gartner

Furthermore, your people can choose any of the following working environments, depending on the job at hand:

  • Meeting booths.
  • Hot desk areas.
  • Formal conference rooms.
  • Soft seating.
  • Informal lounge areas.
  • Quiet nooks.
  • Outdoor spaces.
  • Meeting rooms.
  • Phone booths.
The ultimate goal is to create a happy office space that allows employees to work productively while feeling supported, comfortable and inspired.

But activity-based working goes beyond allowing all employees to WFH or choose their hours.

Instead, it’s an opportunity for leaders to help employees work in the most productive and fulfilling way by providing them with the most suitable environment for the task at hand.

(Related: How To Create An Effective Talent Management Strategy).

Examples Of Activity-Based Environments.

You now know the theory. Let’s move to practices. Here’s how various activity-based environments look.

1. Focus Rooms.

A focus room is a one-person cubicle or small nook people can use to do deep work.

A typical space is booth-styled, with a slider door and comfortable seating — the essentials you need for focused work!

2. Informal Collaborative Spaces.

Endless desks, pompous chair seats, tiny presentation screens — these are the conference rooms of the past.

As teams have become more nuclear, they need smaller, less imposing spaces to ideate, collaborate and innovate. That’s why many employers set up more casual, lounge-style rooms for teamwork.

(Related: 7 Best Budget Home Office Ideas).

3. Cafes And Restaurants.

In Australia, cafes are the most popular work environment. They provide the perfect workstation for people to work autonomously or meet with colleagues.

Plus, they break up the monotony of working from home!

Should You Adopt An Activity-Based Working Model?

Activity-based working has grown popular in Australia. Should you join the bandwagon? Yes.

ABW boosts team morale and productivity, which eventually translates to monetary gains. Moreover, as talent risks increase, activity-based working can strengthen your employer brands and help you retain the most creative thinkers.

Yet, the challenge always boils down to the execution.

Proper adoption and implementation strategies are paramount when dealing with activity-based working.

Secure an employee buy-in first. Talk about their needs, preferences and current grievances. Then engage workplace design consultants to help you create a better workplace experience for your people.


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