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What companies can learn from KPMG’s activity-based workspaces

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HC Online | 25 Mar 2015, 07:37 AM Agree 0
The professional services firm shares the lessons it learned after an 18-month trial with ABW.
  • Paul | 25 Mar 2015, 11:54 AM Agree 0
    "The next generation of employees, who are used to working closely with one another in a tightly connected fashion".

    Is this the same generation that the Universities have conditioned to believe that online learning (from a bedroom at home) is the best learning model. I am not sure if they are used to working closely with others.

    Overall looks like the Company have been successful in reducing the office space therefore saving on the rent expense. Well done on the expense reduction and looks like everything else is falling into place. Well done.
  • Laura | 25 Mar 2015, 12:59 PM Agree 0
    I'd have to agree with Paul. I haven't found that the next generation is highly collaborative, in fact quite the opposite. They might have a massively networked group of people, but how many of those people have they actually met or worked/studied with?

    I can't see that being physically surrounded by people (as opposed to virtually) would suit the next generation who, in my opinion, have generally become quite insulated from social activities and face-to-face interaction.

    I certainly agree that going paperless and reducing office space is a plus, but I imagine the HR issues that will come out of this change will probably outweigh the benefits.

    Kudos for the innovative approach though!
  • nelz | 25 Mar 2015, 04:28 PM Agree 0
    another positive thing is, good exercise for us IT guys as we keep on moving around the whole day when one user need some kind of IT support :)

  • Charlie | 16 Jun 2017, 10:27 PM Agree 0
    So many places are introducing activity based working - though often it's not the real thing but an incomplete hybrid ABW/hot desking mix not done well enough - while the ABW consultancies loudly promote how collaborative your workers will become and it cant fail to be win win all round.

    But indepth, widescale studies of how well it really does or doesnt work are now finally getting some recognition above the sales hype which is all many people have heard before. It's becoming clear that for many places the cost of introducing it has outweighed the benefits, with many staff being much less productive and not particularly collaborative. To their surprise, management is learning that not all employees work the same way, and treating them all the same means the productivity achieved plummets for many workers, especially those with jobs that require hours of focus, or intensitve longer term work in small teams.

    Constant noise, a lack of sufficient quiet rooms or the wrong technology to make them useable, hours of wasted set up and pack up time, no privacy, and an atmosphere of being told off like a naughty child if you dare break a rule like sit in the same place two days in a row, are having a bigger effect than many organisations assumed. And the real result is workplaces losing many of their most innovative, focused workers who find these conditions appauling to do quality work in. And those who may have to stay for personal reasons often then perform way below their best.

    The assumption behind ABW - that all employees work flexibly and can move spaces as they move tasks - is looking increasingly wrong, and many workplaces are paying dearly for assuming it. Few of them, once ABW has been imposed, review whether it has really gained those much-touted benefits or has instead lost other valuable things in the process. And has the experiment instead cost the organisation more long term than that floorspace cost gain?

    Many are now prepared to privately admit it wasn't worth it after all, but not game to say so publicly while the ABW mantra is still beloved of executives and may not be questioned.

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