Unassigned Seating: Coming Soon to an Office Near You

Earlier in the year we talked about new trends in corporate work spaces with specific mention to “hoteling,” or the idea of replicating a hotel lobby – creating an open floor plan with different types of seating groupings – a sofa on one side of the room, round tables with chairs on another, high tops and bistro seating in one corner, and booths in another.  Noticeably absent in this type of work environment are individual desks – and according to a recent Wall Street Journal article (“Don’t Get Too Used to Your Own Desk,” Sue Shellenbarger, May 15, 2018), this is a trend that more and more bigger corporations are applying.

New designs in office furniture certainly make these work landscapes not only possible, but potentially more productive too.

Benching Systems

Benching systems are open-concept workstations generally used for quick “touchdowns” (employees coming into the office for a limited time).  Although benching systems offer minimal privacy, they are designed specifically with collaboration in mind.  And with their clean lines and built-in wires that stay hidden, they look good too!

In an unassigned desk setting, benching systems work well as a main staple with a combination of full-panel work stations (semi-private spaces that include some acoustic considerations through the use of paneling and tack boards, feature storage options such as upper hutches or lower filing cabinets, and provide increased work surfaces) and even private office spaces (whether previously existing as a result of the original construction, or created by using floor-to-ceiling panels that offer an enhanced adaptability of any space).  These different settings allow employees the option of where to work based on what they’re working on – and whether they need a small, quiet space of their own or are looking to brainstorm and collaborate with their co-workers.

Preparing Your Workforce for Change

If your organization makes the decision to forego individual desks, the article suggests that you be ready to allow for some time for employees to get used to the new working arrangements, and environment.  Implement training so that people can discuss and understand the ground rules of these new shared spaces (which might cover issues such as noise levels and cleanliness, for example).  Also recognize that while some employees might take to the change right away, others may need some time getting used to shared spaces – and some might never fully embrace the change.

One of the side benefits of unassigned seating is a decrease in paper usage.  With no individual desk filing cabinet, or specific desk on which to pile things up, more employees tend to shift toward digital storage, which not only reduces the need for space, but also reduces printing and paper costs.

Speaking of space, companies that have shifted to this approach have realized significantly less need for square footage.  Filing capacity is one of the reasons; also, many people in this situation also have the option of working remotely, and more employees start taking advantage of this opportunity.

With the variety of seating options and office furniture available today, companies that decide to go the route of unassigned seating can be better positioned for success based on their furniture choices.  Talk to us at Office Gallery about all of your workplace questions, and we can help design a space that makes sense for your organization.