Activity Based Working (ABW) has been around for a few years now, slowly but surely growing in popularity.

However, before considering it for your furniture fit out there are a number of points to think about. Presently the benefits over cost are indeterminate, but it is an innovative way to stay a head of the pack. Engaging a change as significant as ABW for your Melbourne office will not only help you attract and keep more productive employees, it will also leave a lasting impression with clients and visitors.

What is it?

ABW is an office strategy designed to give employees the freedom to choose where to work in the office and what tools to use, depending on the task at hand. Whether it is a laptop in a private pod, an iPad in a collaboration area, or a projector in the conference room, ABW takes advantage of the opportunities offered by today’s technology. ABW is often confused with open plan or hot-desking. Open plan and hot-desking demotivate staff who feel a lack of privacy and ownership over their workspace. ABW affords employees the opportunity to work in an intimate space if needed, and the authority to choose where.


Independent investigations have shown that more than 50% of desk space is under utilised in the modern office. One investigation even found that a third of workstations are usually unoccupied at any one time. By removing allocated seating ABW not only better utilises space, but also eliminates the many distractions that can be found on individual desktops. In addition it reduces clutter and paper usage significantly. And because ABW allows employees to tailor their workspace to match the tasks they’re doing, tasks are completed with more efficiency.

Who’s implementing it?

ABW is best for large scale businesses with more than 50 employees and ample office space. Forward thinking companies like the Commonwealth Bank, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), and Microsoft, have all implemented an ABW strategy. An investigation by JLL into ABW recommended it for Government agencies, citing that the concept is perfect for the regular re-shuffles Government departments tend to go through. However even JLL warn that ABW is not the best option for every office. While other companies are more than happy with ABW, Canon Australia decided that it did not suit their corporate needs


An ABW strategy requires a strong IT platform that includes not just hi-speed wireless internet, but also a tough IT security system. A balance of space is key to implementation as well, dark to light, open to closed, silent zones, collaborative spaces and conference rooms are all required to make it work. Whatever is needed to accommodate the different employees and tasks being carried out. This usually includes seemingly novel concepts, like phone booths for making phone calls. And of course other changes will include lockers for staff, who now have total mobility around the office.

ABW isn’t just about implementing an office furniture layout or fit out. Implementation is complex and the change is enormous. Retraining of staff and management will be required. Especially around managing staff to ensure everyone is working to their best potential at all times, without micro managing. And the savings won’t be apparent immediately either. ABW is a long term plan, and so cost savings should not be the reason for installing it. Instead your motivation should be demonstrating a progressive culture, to attract the best employees and clients. If you are considering an Activity Based Working environment for your Melbourne office, call Office Vision to see if it really is the best option for you.

learn more