Activity Based Working in Ardmore House

By Maureen Quinn, President’s Office

You may have read about the Ardmore House Activity Based Working project in the 02 November President’s Bulletin.  If not, you can access that bulletin here, and the ABW report here. You might also like to hear how it is working in practice from someone on the ground … here’s what’s happening from my perspective.

Early adopters moved in on 20 October and we have been trying out the various spaces.  ABW is all about using different spaces depending on your activity. With this.number of people (circa 20) the building is never too crowded.  I find it easy to concentrate on focused work and then occasionally move to a different space for a phonecall or a zoom.  It’s nice to have the option of the non-focus room where there is usually someone from another team working away.  Although if I have a number of zoom meetings, I’m more likely to work from home as it saves me time commuting. Printers and photocopiers are located in one room on the garden level.  In fairness, most of us haven’t been printing much over the last 18 months, so we are already in good habits.

This has been something of a whirlwind project!  It does help a project to progress it with enthusiasm in these circumstances, despite long lead times for equipment and furnishings.  As a member of the Project Steering and Project Team, as well as a Resident of the building, I have been playing a key role in keeping all residents up to speed with what is happening and how we are responding to their feedback. Rather than bombard everyone with multiple emails, I’m sending a weekly update by email to advise of updates and progress.  Olga and the wider team of Agile, HR and Estates as well as Veldhoen + Company have been hugely helpful.  We have a shared google drive with rules of engagement and within that space we have manuals and user guides for the technology in the building, a feedback form and other key pieces of information which are being regularly updated.

We have also started to share the feedback from other Residents to help those who have not yet used the space imagine what it might be like for them. The following piece from Jordan Campbell, UCD Foundation, was shared in my 12 November email:

“Over the last month, the team in UCD Foundation have been early adopters of an Activity-Based Working trial in Ardmore House. Actively participating in setting rules of engagement with other units, and the opportunity to trial the spaces and technology have given us some sense of how we can use the building to promote collaboration, creativity and collegiality. I, like other team members, was uneasy about losing a dedicated desk and space to work. The reality, however, is that I have gained use of a wide range of spaces that support different types of work. On a typical day, I start in a non-focused working room, where I can chat to colleagues while completing administrative or planning tasks. For Zoom meetings, I pop into either the Video Call room or into one of the garden-level rooms if more privacy is required. One-to-one meetings with direct reports can take place in a small, bookable meeting room, while the building provides ample sitting-room type spaces for informal discussions that do not require private spaces. I might make use of four or five different spaces throughout the day, allowing for more interaction and collaboration but also providing space for uninterrupted, focused work. Ultimately, the fit out, technology and variety of workspaces will allow us to accommodate employees’ personal working preferences and portfolios of work, creating a new, energising working environment for Ardmore’s residents.”

From a personal perspective, it’s been very busy and will be for some time to come especially as I’m the one constant on all the different committees. I do think the ABW pilot works well with the hybrid working trial already in place in the university and with fluctuating Covid restrictions and advice. Time will tell.