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Activity Based Work

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Drew Jones

Head of Consulting at Conjunctured
Drew Jones, Ph.D is an organizational consultant, educator, and writer. He is a Lecturer of Management, Organizational Behavior, and Corporate Social Responsibility in the McCoy College of Business Administration at Texas State University, in San Marcos, TX. He has consulted with firms in the software, food and beverage, construction, advertising, sports management, coworking, and for profit education industries. He has published two books (The Innovation Acid Test: Growth Through Design and Differentiation, Triarchy Press 2008), including the first book about the coworking movement (I’m Outta: How coworking is making the office obsolete, with Todd Sundsted and Tony Bacigalupo, NotanMBA Press 2009), and has a third book (The Fifth Age of Work: Redesigning Work for a MobileSocial World, Night Owls Press), coming out Fall 2013. He has been involved in coworking since 2007, as a coworking space owner, partner, academic researcher, and consultant. He is a partner at Conjunctured Coworking.
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macquarie 2 Activity Based Work

Veldhoen + Company, the Dutch workplace consultancy that pioneered Activity Based Work, is one of the most important companies you’ve never heard of.  ABW is, essentially, mass scale corporate coworking. Everyone in the company, including the CEO and other top managers, gets a laptop and a locker for storage.  People choose workspaces that fit the work they are doing that day, not a fixed space that assumes that work everyday is the same.  Sounds radical, but really it is quite simple.

As the folks at Veldhoen say, ABW is about much more that redesigning physical spaces. A major knock-on effect of ABW is cultural transformation. Top management is accessible. No one is hidden behind oak desks and personal assistants.  Many time-consuming meetings are eliminated. Openness and transparency are nourished, and flatter and more egalitarian organizations evolve.

These are all good things, if you value these things. However, if you want to keep power and decision-making authority in the hands of the few, then ABW is probably not for you. In order to find out if ABW is right for your company, maybe you should just ask your employees!