Canada’s federal government adapting activity-based workplace strategy

Departments replacing traditional offices with more flexible space
Editor's Note

This story originally appeared in the 2017 BOMA Ottawa Commercial Space Directory.

It’s about HOW you work, not where you work that counts.

That’s one of the themes of the federal government’s Workplace 2.0 initiative. It includes a creative activity-based workplace (ABW) strategy designed to give public servants more flexibility and freedom on the job.

ABW is a movement across the workforce – both public and private – to replace structured environments, such as offices and boardrooms, with more fluid spaces that can be used in a variety of different ways depending on the project at hand and who is involved.

By removing those closed meeting spaces, employees are given more opportunities to communicate with their colleagues and think creatively.

While ABW it is still a relatively new concept here in Canada, it is already popular in Australia and showing impressive results for both staff and management. Some of the reported benefits of a healthy ABW workplace include an increase in employee performance and productivity as well as a reduction in overall operating expenses.

Sustainability is one of the key factors in the ABW trend, giving business owners the opportunity to reduce real estate costs while maximizing their investment in innovation.

With more people using their mobile devices for business, ABW is helping organizations to re-think how they use their physical office space, and what new purpose it might serve.

By rethinking the traditional layout of an office and replacing mainstay furniture such as cubicles and partitions with oversized comfy couches, stand-up desks and purpose-built activity centres, organizations are creating custom workspaces for employees that meet the needs of a wide range of working styles.

New generation of workers

Instead of each employee having an assigned desk space that may not be utilized for large portions of the day, ABW allows employees to choose their own work area.

This customization is being driven by the new generation of workers, who have a different perspective on their role within an organization and how they interact in their work environment.

One of the most significant benefits of an ABW environment is the improvement of the overall health of employees. By promoting an active and movement-based workplace, employees are no longer sitting at desks for hours and are instead moving around throughout the day.

While there are benefits to adopting the ABW model, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work in every office.

The most successful ABW fit-outs are achieved by organizations that are focused on technology and innovation. For some, a hybrid approach works best, having some teams using a traditional office design and others adopting the ABW approach.

As ABW becomes more mainstream in the workplace, it is having a huge impact on the day-to-day operations on commercial space users and providers.

In order to meet those growing needs, businesses are investing more resources in facilities management, using technology to track employee productivity and how they interact in the space throughout the day.

By analyzing this information, facilities crews can be more effective in scheduling maintenance and ensuring all aspects of the building are being utilized to their full potential.

This article originally appeared in the 2017 BOMA Ottawa Commercial Space Directory. Read the full issue here: