Activity-Based Working: The Solution for More Flexibility

6 min readFeb 28, 2022



Are you wondering how to improve your office layout? Have you heard about Activity-Based Working (ABW)? This workspace concept doesn’t only offer many advantages for hybrid companies, it also creates amazing outcomes for any business willing to provide a better work environment. When working from home, we don’t always work from the same spot. Does it mean we don’t perform as good from the sofa as we would sitting on a chair? Not really, it actually depends on people and the time of the day. Some may actually be more productive when laying comfortably on the couch! While flexibility at work is becoming one of the major aspects of a modern corporate environment, ABW office design helps to embrace this growing movement by offering a more agile space. In this article, deskbird analyses what ABW is, how it works, its benefits, its disadvantages and how this trend is going to develop after Covid-19.

What is Activity-Based Working (ABW)?


Activity-Based Working is a type of office layout. This type of workspace strategy creates an office structure where each area has one specific purpose. It offers more flexibility and agility for employees, two very important aspects that are now shaping the future of work. This concept has become increasingly popular since 1995 when Erik Vendhoen mentioned it in his book “The Demise of the Office” Later, he developed this idea in another book called “The Art of Working”.

Providing an ABW workspace is part of the current changes happening in the work environment. Companies tend to adopt a more people-centric and flexible approach in comparison to the traditional vision of work. Since employees and employers have experienced the hybrid working model, many of them realise the benefits of such a concept. Among others, the major outcomes are a better work-life balance, higher productivity and a greater engagement rate.

The main principles of Activity-Based Working lay in the design of the workplace as well as in the created atmosphere. The workspaces should not only be conceived according to the work employees need to perform, but should also create a desirable atmosphere that matches their needs. Do they require quiet places? Are more collaborative spaces such as meeting rooms something they ask for? Are they able to enjoy a chilling area to switch off their brain for a few minutes and then tackle this important project even better? As an employer, the purpose of ABW is to answer all these needs as much as you can. You will see, the outcomes are more than worth it!

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of ABW office design?

6 Benefits of Activity-Based Working

  1. Improve recruitment and talent retention

With ABW, employees feel more valued. Implementing this model indicates your motivation to provide them with the best working conditions, to empower them and to help them be productive in their daily work activities.

2. Increase team collaboration

Switching workspaces according to the type of work your employees are doing and having dedicated spaces for team meetings helps to improve workers’ connections as well as team collaboration.

3. Create a better employee engagement

Working in an environment that is designed according to their needs will definitely trigger more engagement among your teams. By being listened to and by enjoying a workspace matching their needs employees tend to feel more engaged towards the company.

4. Enhance productivity

When working from home, hybrid employees are able to switch their work environment throughout the day. ABW allows them to do the same when they come back to the office. If they need to focus on a very important task, they can sit at an individual desk in a quiet room and get things done. However, if they need to communicate and share their ideas with others, they can work in one of the coworking areas.

5. Provide a healthier environment

First, an Activity-Based Workplace encourages workers to walk more throughout the day. Even if it is not a lot, it is increasing physical movements and assisting in avoiding sedentary behaviours. Also, this space structure reduces stress levels as employees are ensured to work in an environment matching their tasks.


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6. Reduce office costs

Adopting a hybrid work model and reshuffling your workspace to design it according to your employees’ activities can help you decrease your real estate costs. Some areas or equipment might not be needed anymore leading you to rethink how much space you actually need.

2 Disadvantages of ABW office design

As for everything in life, ABW office design also has some disadvantages. However, there are only a few and solutions do exist.

  1. Need to adopt an ABW mindset

One issue you may encounter with this workspace strategy is the difficulty for some employees to adapt to the change. A few of them may like the old fashioned way of working and cherish their single desk (with their personal belongings that evolved throughout the last 15 years). You need to listen to their feedback while explaining why you think an ABW structure is better for them and the company. It can be done through simple meetings but also workshops or training.

2. Require an organised space management system

Another matter that can appear is a feeling of frustration and/or anxiety if your employees can’t have access to some working areas when needed. Imagine, an important project is coming up in a few days and everybody is on the starting blocks. They all need to focus and quiet areas to do so. How can you help them with this need? Managing your office with desk reservation software can solve this issue. Through the app, employees can see on the office map the remaining available workstations and book the one matching their requirements for the day. If nothing is left available, they know it is better for them to work from home as there won’t be any workspace where they can focus as they need in the office.

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What is the future of ABW after Covid-19?


One thing is sure: the future of ABW after Covid-19 is bright! Activity-Based Working is one of the core pillars for companies that want to succeed, attract talents and embrace the new trends of the future of work.

The pandemic has given the opportunity to employees to experience the advantages of more work flexibility. Many employers have seen the benefits of a hybrid model and have rethought their office layout according to this new concept. Therefore, there is no reason why companies and employees would take a step back. The advantages are just too numerous. Besides, this new office structure is allowing businesses to take a step further to become more people-centric and enhance more productivity as well as engagement.

To put it in a nutshell, behind this concept is a motivation to provide employees with a better working space to enhance their well-being and therefore, their productivity. Have you already implemented Activity-Based Working in your company? After reading this article and discovering all the benefits of ABW office design, are you wondering how to put this concept in place? deskbird recently published an article about office space planning. Feel free to read it and you will learn a lot about how to set up an office building layout that is matching everybody’s needs!




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