Amicus Interiors, a leading interior fit out company, has released the findings of its inaugural survey conducted with Microsoft regarding the implementation of Activity Based Working (ABW) and technology within the workplace with findings demonstrating the issues for small to medium sized businesses.

The survey analysed company culture and the changing nature of the workplace with a focus on how offices are reacting to the changes. Over 200 respondents from small businesses throughout Australia took part with 24 per cent of respondents having only 0-10 employees.

“The survey has shown that over 70 percent of respondents have an understanding and appreciation for ABW in that it can positively impact workplace productivity. However, the smaller companies are reluctant or have a lack of resources to implement it,” said Mr Andrew Holder, CEO of Amicus Interiors.

Most respondents worked in a combination of office and open plan spaces with over 35 per cent of respondents undertaking their last office fit out under a year ago. Despite recent renovations only seven per cent of those surveyed worked in an ABW space with budget, IT limitations and staff not wanting an ABW environment key reasons for its lack of implementation.
The changing role of technology in the workplace and the introduction of services such as the cloud, social collaboration technologies and integrated communication systems have also been at the forefront of adapting ABW.

“Technology is rapidly changing and businesses are adopting strategies where staff have the flexibility to work out of the office and from a number of devices. These changes are core to ABW, however small businesses are struggling with the costs of implementing such technologies and also changing workers attitudes towards ABW,” said Mr Holder.

178 respondents indicated that they would be interested in adopting new technologies if they were to make the switch to ABW with over 44 per cent of respondents wanting to move to cloud based services. Moving to centralised document management solutions and integrated communication systems came in at 40 per cent and 39 per cent respectively as organisations become aware of the benefits of new systems and the impact it can have on productivity.

Switching to these technologies is particularly difficult for small businesses as the costs involved and current technology used can make it near impossible to implement. Over 50 per cent of those surveyed still used desktop and local based services which resulted in over 70 per cent of desks in the office being used daily. Businesses would have to significantly change the fit out of offices as well as encourage workers to embrace the new technology in order for it to be successfully implemented and used.

Workers are reluctant to accept new technology and ABW with 37 respondents noting that the current workplace culture was too difficult to change, an issue amongst both small and large businesses.

Over 32 per cent of those surveyed were aware that staff wanted to keep their own desks and belongings making it difficult to justify why they should switch to an ABW work place and put funds towards new technologies.

While it may seem that the average cost of a full refurbishment of an office is a large investment ABW office fit outs can be reduced by implementing different aspects of ABW and new technologies at different times which can reduce costs and also give staff the time to adjust to the new environment.

Over 79 per cent of respondents were aware that the fit out of an office can have an impact on organisations productivity and culture with over 66 per cent of businesses looking to have a more collaborative and energetic dynamic in the workplace over the next two years