Activity-based working is often trumpeted as a new phenomenon, but it isnt. The concept has been around for decades, albeit under different names and guises. This short history will explain how ABW has moved from being a novelty to becoming a mainstream solution, driven by changes in technology, culture and work processes.Way back in 1970, a group of about twenty IBM product engineers moved, somewhat reluctantly, into what was called a non-territorial office. This was probably the first ABW office ever, even though it was not called that at the time. 1In their new office, the IBM employees no longer had personal workstations, but a variety of shared workspaces: ordinary desks, but also work benches, a quiet area and even a total quiet area (formerly the department heads office). A thorough evaluation of the project showed that the new concept had improved communications and satisfaction levels. The research report did, however, warnIn 1989, the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) that the concept was liable to provoke a good deal of fearcreated its Office of the future in Finland. One 2 of the novelties of this non-territorial office was or even panic among users who were new to the concept. that staff were equipped with cordless phones. 3 Sound familiar?(photo: Digital Equipment Corporation)The IBM experiment was an isolated blip in 1970s office design. It did not receive much publicity nor any emulationnot so strange since at that time office work was still very much paper-based. This changed however in the 1980s when laptops, Internet and email started to enter the world of work. On the back of these technological advances, the idea of the non-territorial office resurfaced. In his 1982 book The Successful Office, Franklin Becker explained the logic behind the concept, stating that no single workspace could satisfy the myriad of functions people perform. 4He anticipated that new technologies (portable computers the size of a briefcase) would allow people to use a network of different workspaces, each designed for a distinct function and psychological or social need. The same idea was discussed by the architects Stone and Luchetti in their seminal 1985 article Your office is where you are, which quickly became a popular slogan among office innovators. 5It was not until the 1990s that activity-based working really took off. Triggered by economic expansion, the ICT revolution and the dot-com boom, there was a huge eagerness to create exciting, innovative spaces. 6Much of the idea development came from the British firm DEGW, 15