Monday 15th January 2018

Modern life is rapidly changing, particularly when it comes to working life. Flexibility in the workplace is in demand more than ever before, with employees who adapt and adjust their work responsibilities around their own lives suggesting it has numerous positive outcomes for both the individual, as well as the business or organisation they’re employed by.

When it comes to working flexibly, there are many approaches for both employer and employee. Two increasingly popular ones are Activity-Based Working (ABW) and Agile Working. However, despite there being differences between two, both are often conflated and confused, with some people using their terms interchangeably. So what’s the difference between them?

What is Agile working?

Agile Working enables employees to work as they want. Many believe that by creating freedom in the workplace, productivity increases, so agile workers are able to choose from working in the office, via mobile, or from home (or, most likely, a combination of all three). Flexible working hours are a given when it comes to Agile Working, as well as optimising office space usage to best encourage creativity and collaboration. Some refer to Agile Working as being under the umbrella of ‘smart working’, which encompasses the progression of technology into daily office life – for example, smart technology and cloud-based solutions.

What is Activity-Based working?

Activity Based Working is also about creating freedom for workers – largely by allowing employees to decide how, when and where they work. However, ABW differs from Agile Working in that it goes deeper throughout the workplace and responsibilities of workers. Whereas Agile Working focuses mainly on how employees manage their own workloads, ABW reaches the scope of team collaboration, as well as having a stronger focus on changing workplace culture and design. Activity Based workers are encouraged to discover the ways in which they work best, while maintaining team connections – the idea is not for an individual to ‘own’ their desk, but for the team they work within to ‘own’ that specific area of the office. To be a successful working strategy, Activity Based Working requires a large amount of trust to be put into the workforce, as well as a focus on less traditional forms of working.

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