I can’t think of anything that generates jargon faster than business management. Reading the paper on the weekend I ran across a blurb in the real estate section that said Graz, where I live, needs 75,000 square meters of new office space. This is equivalent to 14 football fields and is an increase of roughly 16% over currently available office space.

I find this strange because, while our population has steadily increased in recent years, growth has now leveled off. Looking forward to 2034, significant population growth is only projected in the segment 60+, in other words among retirees or those soon to retire. The population of those of working age is forecasted to remain constant.

If this is true, then why do we need additional office space? The answer: activity based working. What is activity based working? As one manufacturer of IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management System) software put it: In an activity-based working environment, employees choose between a variety of different workspaces, each designed for a specific activity. Employees don’t have a single dedicated workstation, but they can work in the kind of space that best supports the type of work they are doing on any given day.

Now you are probably wondering what the heck is IWMS software? Well, apparently after a company moves to an activity based working environment, they have nomadic employees roaming around the office looking for a place to work. This can in turn create conflicts. What do you do if Harold and Maude both want to work at the desk next to the water cooler? Or what if Jack and Jill both want to use the relax cocoon on the third floor? Obviously, you need some enterprise coordination software.

All of this sounds extremely confusing and a great way for office furniture manufacturers and software companies to sell products. Not to mention that 14 football fields of additional office space for the sake of roaming around is an unnecessary environmental disaster. I also question if worker productivity increases as the proponents of activity based working claim.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels.

One thought on “Activity Based Working

  1. It all sounds pretty strange to me, especially given that people have really experienced a work-at-home revolution in the past year. It doesn’t seem like building a giant new office building (apparently to entice workers to stay even longer?) jives with the fact that many people now say they’d prefer a hybrid working arrangement in which they only go to the office a couple of times of week. For what it’s worth, I’ve been seeing the same kind of construction projects here in Ljubljana, as well as new hotels (which also seem out of place in an era of reduced travel).

    The idea of using software to work out who gets to use the comfy chairs and for how long is pretty laughable, but I suppose if it’s a user-friendly app and they’re required to use it, they will. I just think of how many months teachers and students have been using Microsoft Teams on a daily basis during online learning, and basic functions still elude many of them. I wouldn’t be too optimistic about this imagined ideal “state of flow” in a new office situation.

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