Luc Kamperman found himself in the consulting side of business fresh out of university more than 17 years ago. Although he originally found himself drawn to marketing, some feedback from big marketing firms led him more to analytical career options. Ultimately, Luc decided to pursue a career in Activity Based Working.
What is Activity Based Working? Luc explains that ABW is a business strategy in which businesses attempt to build more resilience in how they respond to what needs to be done in their specific markets. It is based on empowering individuals within teams to find the right answer to their problems by allowing them to work anywhere at any time.
Activity Based Working requires trusting employees and moving away from line-of-sight management. By doing this, offices have a need for change. Offices must then have a focus on activities that are completed in the space. However, while the office space is affected as a result of Activity Based Working, it is not an office concept.
The concept of Activity Based Working has become a global concept, but it has not traveled across the seas with the right message. In truth, the idea is to change cultures in business, but there has been a large impact on office concepts.
In the last 5 to 10 years, Activity Based Working has become more prominent in the workplace. Agile working has also been on the rise over the same time period. What is the difference? Agile working is more for IT and is based on developing software in a more nimble way, but has expanded into other areas since its creation.
There is a lot of overlap between Agile and Activity Based Working - both require collaboration, self-organization, and freedom. When a company uses an Activity Based Working strategy, it tends to use Agile ideas as well. The difference lies in empowering the individual within ABW and using more of a team aspect with Agile methodology.
At the end of the day, both ABW and Agile working have their own benefits. However, even though Agile working can be effective, it can be hard for an individual to work with another group of people for a full workday and use every hour in a creative and productive way. This leads to workplaces that were once Agile based to require more Activity Based Working ideas. When it comes down to one style versus the other, organizations must find the right mix that allows them to use both individuals and teams.
According to Luc, the first thing that companies need to look into is their leadership. Organizations must look at their own practices and how they might change over time. It is also the idea of looking into the future and seeing what principles the organization focuses on. If a company is unwilling to question and examine these aspects, it is unlikely that they are ready for a proper solution with Activity Based Working
Evaluating the key attributes to determine whether or not Activity Based Working will help the problem is crucial. It can be challenging, but it is important to identify the differences between whole organizations and departments. Then, organizations must create a tangible vision - what does the company want to see change in the coming year? It requires a lot of time and investment to develop a vision that has truth and meaning.
ABW requires a change in routines and not just an office makeover. In fact, this is where so many organizations tend to fall away from the real concept of Activity Based Working. The concept requires a real change in collaboration. The question then comes into play - does the change starts with the leadership or is the entire organization as a whole thrown into the mix?
Luc believes that the entire organization must be involved in the change over to ABW because it is ultimately up to the individuals within a company to be the change. There will be new environments and technologies that enable a company to change, but changing those aspects alone will do little to make big steps into the future. Being ready for the future requires changing the behaviors, leadership styles, and performance management.
A change in culture is both top-down and bottom-up. The middle layer cannot be forgotten if success with Activity Based Working is the goal. Luc uses a variety of tools to determine the best way to implement change in specific organizations and behaviors. It is best to understand the company and the change that they are already working towards so that the platforms already being used can be built on.
Knowing if an organization is ready for ABW starts with testing the waters and understanding the preparedness that the company finds themselves at. A company that is willing to invest the time and energy into the Activity Based Working change is one that is likely ready to do so. On the opposite spectrum, a company that is not ready might believe that it is not a priority.
When Luc runs into organizations that are less than ready, it is important for him to get them to grasp the importance of ABW. He must also help them to be honest in their needs. There is no need for an expectation to be set at a certain point while the organization is not looking to make the effort to meet the expectation.
Once the initial discussions are complete and an office is designed to meet the needs of the activities, organizations might think that the process is complete. However, change requires additional efforts. This point is still the beginning of the journey. It might take additional check-ups over time to ensure that Activity Based Working is being put to use properly.
Managing in an Activity Based Working environment requires knowing the difference between introverts and extroverts and how each personality trait prefers to work. When it comes to change, it is important for people to be introduced to it based on their own personality. They must also be managed in specific ways. Managers are not always people that worry about individual personality traits, but ABW helps to address it.
Does management style have an impact on employee productivity? Of course, it does. The question of employee productivity comes into play moreso when attempting to measure the difference between before Activity Based Working and post ABW. With self-reflection, individuals can determine the effect of ABW on their level of productivity.
Productivity is also measured with performance indicators and has been shown to improve up to 15%. Other measurements taken include employee engagement, which has improved up to 20%. Real estate cross savings have had improvements of up to 30%. What organizations love about the change is that people have been empowered and flexible in how they think and operate.
In measuring employee experience, Luc places trust in the Leesman Index, which is a way of capturing employee feedback. It also requires understanding what else is available in the world, as people tend to compare what they know to what they experience. With feedback and knowledge, Activity Based Working and other changes within an organization can make the employee experience an improved one.
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What is the Leesman Index? The Leesman Index is simply a tool that allows organizations to garner feedback from employees regarding employee experience and insight about the inner workings of the company.
How can managers be more personality focused? By developing relationships with employees, managers have the ability to supervise better by managing in a way that works for the employee. When managers know their employees they have a better understanding of how to motivate and work with them.
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