by Rohan Pearce

Leadership key to Medibank’s activity-based working transformation

Sep 19, 20132 mins
Collaboration SoftwareSmall and Medium Business

Leadership buy-in has been vital as Medibank prepares for its activity-based working transition, according to the head of the ABW program at the health insurer, David Goldsworthy.

Medibank’s new headquarters at Docklands, which will completed next year and house 1700 of the health insurer’s staff, does away with the private offices and Dilbert-esque cubicle arrays that dominate many large enterprises.

Instead the headquarters will be based around ABW: Replacing offices and fixed desks with a range of workspaces of different sizes that individuals and teams can move between at will. ABW is designed to promote easier collaboration, as project teams aren’t bound by office geography and can come together and move apart as their work requires.

Promoting collaboration and through that driving innovation are at the heart of Medibank’s decision to go with ABW, Goldsworthy said. A number of other Australian enterprises have also embraced ABW, including the Commonwealth Bank and Macquarie Bank – two examples which were scrutinised by Medibank as part of preparing for its own shift.

An ABW transition requires “that the leadership of the organisation are really bought in and understand the benefits that will flow as a consequence of [ABW],” Goldsworthy said. “That really establishes the objective and gives permission for people to get involved in it at a lower level.”

‘Frictionless’ collaboration with activity-based working

“We’ve got teams moving to a more flexible environment in a halfway stage in the existing building, preparing themselves for [ABW and] understanding how it impacts their business processes,” Goldsworthy said.

The change requires a change in management style, moving to managing based on outcomes, which Goldsworthy describes as a healthy thing for organisations whether or not they are embracing ABW.

As well as fitting out the new office for ABW, the health insurer will be updating its IT environment, upgrading desktop operating systems and deploying Microsoft Lync to replace desk phones.

Contact Rohan Pearce at rohan_pearce at or follow him on Twitter: @rohan_p