Is activity-based working impacting health, work performance and perceptions? A systematic review

Numerous claims have been made about the benefits of activity-based working (ABW) on workers’ health and work performance. Yet, it is unclear if these claims are proven. This systematic review aims to establish whether there is an evidence base for the effects of ABW on health, work performance and perceptions of the work environment. Eight databases were searched in September 2016. Three reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts and assessed the studies and extracted the data. Seventeen studies involving 36,039 participants were included. The study designs varied in rigorousness from qualitative studies to pre–post-trials and in sample size ranging from 12 to 11,799. This review found that ABW has positive merits in the areas of interaction, communication, control of time and space, and satisfaction with the workspace; however, it is unfavourable for concentration and privacy. For physical and mental health, the evidence is equivocal. ABW seems to be a promising concept that can be implemented and promoted based on some benefits for work performance and perceptions of the work environment when it is coupled with appropriate management support and organization. More high-quality research is needed to strengthen the evidence base further and establish its health effects.