Agile Working: Activity-based Work vs Team-based Work

Many new projects utilize activity-based working as a go-to workplace design solution, but according to Graham Kirkwood, director and principal facility consultant for Resource Architects, there are valuable people the workplace style isn’t suitable for. Kirkwood’s practice recently conducted a live pilot project with Latrobe University Research of a new approach -- team-based working.

Kirkwood said the team-based approach sees small teams with four to seven people working in agile ways. Each team has its own semi-enclosed space as a ‘home base’, with space for personal and team items. Individual members can also choose to work in a diversity of different spaces across the floorplate. The team spaces have connectivity to other teams through connecting spaces to enable cross-team collaboration.

The foundation of the approach, the small self-organizing teams, function like a family unit. They satisfy the social aspect of why people want to come to work in the first place. The small teams enable bonding, allow people to ‘cover for each other’, and promote diversity.

“With activity-based working, people tend to gravitate towards their friends and social networks,” Kirkwood says. To have genuine sustainability from a business point of view, he says teams need to have diversity in terms of culture, gender and personality.

“We need teams to be more effective,” he says, which means striking a balance between connectivity and responsibility.

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