Activity-Based Work Environments: An Assessment (04-26-17)

Hoendervanger and his colleagues studied activity-based work (ABW) environments because “Despite their growing popularity among organisations, satisfaction with activity-based work (ABW) environments is found to be below expectations. Research also suggests that workers typically do not switch frequently, or not at all, between different activity settings.” Via questionnaires filled out by thousands of people working in ABW environments the team learned that “Satisfaction ratings of the 4 per cent of the respondents who switched several times a day appeared to be significantly above average. Switching frequency was found to be positively related to heterogeneity of the activity profile [diversity of activities], share of communication work and external mobility [so, for example, more diversity of activities was linked to more switching]. . . . Our findings suggest that satisfaction with ABW environments might be enhanced by stimulating workers to switch more frequently. However, as strong objections against switching were observed and switching frequently does not seem to be compatible with all work patterns, this will presumably not work for everyone. Many workers are likely to be more satisfied if provided with an assigned (multifunctional) workstation.”

Jan Hoendervanger, Iris De Been, Nico Van Yperen, Mark Mobach, and Casper Albers.  2016.  “Flexibility In Use:  Switching Behaviour and Satisfaction in Activity-Based Work Environments.”  Journal of Corporate Real Estate, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 48-62.