Office Space Recalibration: Assigned vs. Unassigned Seating

As we begin to adjust to a new office normal, observations on the short and long-term trends including developments will influence the kind of workplaces we will find in this new way of working as well as the opportunities they bring.

There is an expanding number of platforms that make up what we can term the ‘workplace,’ or the environment where we execute our work, from real to virtual spaces. As our society grows more interconnected through digital and physical platforms, the number of methods for doing professional duties has grown significantly.

The global pandemic has only increased the demand for remote tools that enable virtual environments. Many people see the working conditions during lockdowns as proof that remote working can be successful, furthering digital transformation trends. Employees have had to quickly learn how to use a number of digital technologies, and this newfound proficiency will undoubtedly influence our working styles and physical workspaces in the future. This aspect will unavoidably impact the role of current physical working settings, as well as the desire for technological advancements that can assist us in tracking and managing resources while lowering capital and operational costs.

Global studies have revealed that most companies are shifting to a hybrid schedule.  Moving in this direction means that occupancy utilization percentage in offices will be reimagined, which places a strong focus on an agile work paradigm.

Unassigned seating is not a new concept; it has been around for a long time. While the idea of not having a specific workspace may have made some employees uncomfortable in the past, the epidemic has re-established the trend’s hopeful future as it has spread globally.

The Role of Assigned Seating

Before making changes, it is important to understand what assigned seating provided:

  • It establishes placement and records where an individual is situated within the office
  • It maintains organization within a group or department
  • It anchors employees to a comfortable and familiar space within the office

While the physically assigned seating may be going away, the principles remain the same. Many organizations have used a 100% unassigned work area strategy for quite a long time with incredible achievement. These organizations carried out the unassigned seating program by implementing a robust change management process to assist employees with tending to their interests and embracing a better approach for working.

The goal of the hybrid workplace is to predict employee needs so they can concentrate on their job responsibilities—regardless of where they are working. But that kind of experience presents unique and overwhelming logistical challenges that if unprepared, can create chaos.

To ensure unassigned seating success in your office, consider the following:

Keep Track of Space Management and Amenities

Imagine having all staff coming in unplanned with no reservations or control of the workspace.  Having real-time visibility and organizing schedules to utilize every aspect of the workspace is critical.

Analyze Workplace Functions

One of the reasons people hold allocated desks in such high regard is that that is how they learned to work.  Over the past 10-15 years, people have grown to adapt to the new emerging technology and services that have made it easier to work from virtually anywhere. We have already started to move in the direction of a hybrid workplace model without even knowing it.

Appoint a Community Manager

As a result of this new way of working, the need to employ someone who can simultaneously manage facilities, human resources and hospitality is growing.  This role is responsible for managing the daily use and function of today’s workspace.  The Community Manager is also the point contact who can respond to and address team and employees’ needs in real-time.  This function is also critical in fostering teamwork and enhancing organizational culture.

Repeat Wherever Possible

While continued analysis and monitoring is required, recreate, and extend a system that is working throughout your organization. Allow staff to explore self-service and virtual options. Automate and create new standards to speed up operational processes and service deliveries.  Where things can be automated for common requests, help to empower staff to use the provided technology to address issues and complete goals efficiently.

Every employee, whether in or out of the office, will have the same high-quality work and cultural experience in the hybrid workplace. Employees will have access to everything they need to get work done if the correct workplace service delivery solution is in place. We have an unprecedented opportunity to work without limitations by abandoning the antiquated office and embracing the new hybrid workplace. It may have taken a pandemic to get us here, but the way we do things is steadily getting better.