Over the past several years, the traditional sedentary “cubicle” office space has largely phased out and multi-use, open office concepts that offer flexibility and practices like desk hoteling have become the norm. It is easy to see why, as there can be marked increases in productivity, employee satisfaction, cost reduction and collaboration that come from more flexible, multi-use environments.
But a free-for-all, data-blind open concept space is no longer feasible for businesses that wish to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of their employees. That is not to say that businesses will have to return to the cubicle, to be sure – but it is to say that an effective desk hoteling software can be the key to embracing a multi-use office layout moving forward.
If you watch an old sitcom or a film about the corporate environment, you will likely see the traditional office format that reigned supreme over the last 50 years: employees assigned to cubicles or individual offices only to leave for lunch or designated meetings, and a standard office layout.
Over the past few years, though, that format has become inefficient, expensive and overall obsolete as the face and priorities of the workforce have changed. This shift largely has to do with the technological revolution of the last two decades. With smartphones, tablets, laptops and a whole array of useful software applications and cloud capabilities, workers no longer have to rely on hardware or a confined desktop computer to do their job.
And today’s workforce, heavily influenced by millennial preferences, does not want to. For one, studies have shown that millennials do not want to be assigned to a particular seat, and they feel more productive if they can flow between spaces and choose their hours, their focus and their space.
What is more, they are the first generation of “digital natives,” meaning they grew up using the latest technology, and they are not only used to working with a variety of advanced, mobile-friendly technology – they expect it.
They also expect and search for companies that can offer them these things and more as part of a more positive, motivating employee experience.
That, in large part, is why many workplaces have shifted their office design and their scheduling practices over the past few years.
Rather than the traditional office layout with assigned desks and designated meeting areas, these new, more collaborative workplaces feature open, multi-use spaces with a variety of furniture – like lounge chairs, farm-style tables and traditional desks – that individuals can move between throughout the day. They also frequently offer a mix of environments, including open spaces, cubicles, designated areas for presentations, a co-working café, conference rooms and meeting rooms.
The concept does not just suit millennial tastes – it also makes financial and logical sense for many companies. On one hand, it is largely grounded by data that says as much as 40% of a traditional office’s dedicated desk space sits unused on a given day, an issue which greatly contributes to inflated real estate overhead (the largest cost, after people, for most businesses).