The Sydney and Melbourne offices of BDO International, the world’s 5th largest accounting firm, have recently been switching to a new model of the workplace, both in design and equipment. Instead of being locked away in an assigned cubicle, office, or meeting room, the offices have reworked their structure into a set of distinct ‘neighborhoods.’ Employees can work together in collaboration zones or retreat to private areas, choosing the correct location for the task at hand.
The model follows a new activity-based workplace trend that is emerging in some offices. The trend looks to dethrone the traditional ‘cube farm’ model that we see so often today. At schools and universities, students are taught to work in different ways, and in different environments. ABW looks to continue with this model in the workplace. The idea is that the generation of today, and of the future, has learned in this manner and will be stifled by the single-focused model of cube farms. ABW allows people to be mentored, be more productive, and increase productivity through collaboration.
One of the major hurdles to ABW is the fear of change. We are accustomed to doing things a certain way, and fear that a change this severe might cause an implosion. Which is why BDO has implemented a cultural change along with their updated office, communicating with staff before, during, and after the transition. The fear is that employees will be hard to find, or that, unseen, they will slack in their duties. However, by stressing culture change the trend hopes to empower employees to do more. ABW is about treating employees like adults and giving them choices in what they do, and how they do it.
If executives can get employees to buy into this cultural shift, and train employees on how to use the new technologies and stations that come with the ABW environment, the trend should not only increase profitability, but allow companies to be a workplace of choice for talent in the industry.
Video: Watch a video highlighting BDO International’s implementation of the new trend.