Seating Arrangements for Small Office Spaces

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Seating Arrangements for Small Office Spaces

Three office management systems that allow a company to continue growing in size without expanding its office space are hot desking, hoteling and telecommuting. These are the only three systems in widespread use, and therefore, they are the most popular ones as well. While these solutions are implemented by companies of all sizes, they are relevant for companies operating out of small offices because each solution allows the company to employ more workers than their office space would traditionally allow for.

Telecommuting

  • Telecommuting is the working arrangement between a company and an employee in which the employee works from home or another location outside the office.
  • In telecommuting arrangements, workers usually come into the office only for more important meetings, such as those with clients, and for team building and social occasions.
  • Although there are some slight nuances to the different terms, most people use "telecommuting", "teleworking" and "remote work" interchangeably.
  • Telecommuting is useful for companies operating out of small offices because it allows companies to hire additional workers without needing extra office space.
  • While telecommuting can drastically reduce the need for office space, some business functions are not well-suited for telecommuting. This involves activities that require physical presence, such as face-to-face contact with customers or equipment handling.
  • On the other hand, work that is complementary with telecommuting is work that can be performed online and work that can be performed completely independently from other people, or both.
  • Telecommuting has grown 140% since 2005, nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce.
  • In 2018, the number of telecommuters grew 11.7%, which is the largest year over year growth since 2008.
  • As much as 4.3 million employees, or 3.2% of the workforce, work from home at least half the time.
  • Telecommuting is commonly used across different types of organizations, with almost two-thirds (65%) of employers offering telecommuting on a regular basis, and as much as 94% providing some type of flexible work arrangement in certain situations.

Hoteling

  • The practice of hoteling does away with permanent desk space and allows employees to schedule and reserve office space when they need it.
  • This solution works best when combined with telecommuting, because telecommuting frees up desk space that can then be assigned to employees that need it the most.
  • Hoteling increases space optimization, which is crucial for businesses with limited office space. By eliminating unnecessary workstations, companies can reconfigure the office layout to better accommodate on-site employees, while leaving enough space for people who need it only occasionally.
  • The practice of hoteling is most used by organizations that have a lot of employees who need to travel frequently. For example, hoteling was adopted by many consulting and accounting firms at the turn of the century. Organizations whose sales teams tend to travel a lot can also benefit from implementing this solution.
  • Hoteling is also sometimes referred to as hot desking. The two practices are very similar, except that hot desking does not involve the use of a scheduling system, but space is assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  • Several experts say that hoteling is growing in popularity, but there is little hard data to discern the accuracy of their claims. Several large companies such as Deloitte, Microsoft, Square, LEGO and Citigroup all implement hoteling on a regular basis.

Office benching

  • Office benching is the use of modular furniture and multiple workstations combined into benches in order to save space and increase employee engagement.
  • Office benching is best implemented in companies that already have open office spaces.
  • The practice is really helpful for anyone with limited office space, because the practice itself is designed to conserve space.
  • Benching saves 22%-26% of office space on average.
  • The popularity of office benching seems to be on the rise. Companies in the US have saved a total of 137.8 million square feet of space since 2008 by implementing office benching.
  • Benching solutions are typically sold by furniture manufacturers. Benching systems sales recorded a 7% increase in 2018, which also points to the increased popularity of the solution.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Seating Arrangements for Small Office Spaces - Pros & Cons

The most common solutions for a small company to keep growing without increasing office space include telecommuting, hoteling and office benching. Out of the three, telecommuting definitely has the most positive impact on employee morale, retention and productivity. Interestingly enough, even though very popular, the practice of open-plan offices in general and office benching, in particular, has been shown to have negative effects on productivity and employee satisfaction.

Telecommuting

  • According to Global Workforce Analytics, telecommuting increases employee retention for 95% of companies.
  • Job attrition rates fall by over 50% when companies switch to this solution, according to a Stanford University report.
  • Telecommuting also seems to boost employee morale, as an employee survey showed that 36% would choose telework over a pay raise, and 37% would take a pay cut.
  • A study by PGi found that 80% of workers reported higher morale when telecommuting and 69% reported lower absenteeism.
  • A Gallup poll found that telecommuting increases employee engagement, as employees feel most engaged when they're working off-site for a few days each week.
  • As much as 91% of workers feel more productive when working outside the office.
  • The State of Work Productivity Report found that 65% of full-time employees think that telecommuting would increase their productivity.
  • Two-thirds of surveyed managers reported an increase in productivity from workers that started working remotely.
  • Allowing workers to telecommute just half of the time would produce an average annual cost savings of $11,000 per employee.
  • Two case studies also show increased productivity from telecommuting. JD Edwards teleworkers are nearly 25% more productive than their on-site peers and American Express employees who work from home are 43% more productive.

Hoteling

  • Hoteling can improve employee morale, especially in businesses with confined space, because the temporary empty space can be utilized as a social and recreational space.
  • Empowered offices, which include the practice of hoteling, have been shown to increase productivity on cognitive tasks by more than 25%.
  • Studies show that as much as 40% of desk space in a typical office goes unused, so hoteling is increasing productivity per square foot of office space.
  • Since employees are already mobile 50% to 60% of the time, hoteling helps to reduce overhead which indirectly boosts productivity.
  • Research into the practice of hoteling uncovered some negative effects as well. Hoteling has been found to result in higher levels of distrust, fewer co-worker friendships and decreased perceptions of supervisory support.
  • Employee satisfaction is increased by 28% among those who switch workspaces. However, the study also showed that very few employees choose to willingly change their workstations.

Office benching

  • Even though a lot of businesses are implementing office benching and open-plan offices, several studies have recently shown that the practices can hurt productivity and employee morale.
  • For example, a study by Knoll suggests that a low proportion of individual workspaces reduces fixed costs in the short term, but that it also reduces employee engagement by a factor of three. However, if up to 20% of the office is taken up by benches, it doesn't negatively impact employee engagement.
  • Office benching reduces employee productivity by increasing distractions. Some 65% of surveyed employees said that they have found it difficult to concentrate on their work because of noise and other distractions in an open-plan office.
  • A study by enterprise software strategist William Belk found that 58% of high-performance employees required more private spaces for problem-solving.
  • A Harvard study found that 72% of employees spent less time socializing in spaces that included benching and sent 67% more instant messages instead. The study concluded that this has a negative impact on employee retention because employees are less likely to feel connected to the company without social interaction.
Sources
Sources