Technology is redefining the workplace. Improved connectivity, alternative work styles and the need to foster collaboration among workers has guided many designers to promote the open office concept. As real estate prices continue to rise, many companies are looking for ways to cut back on costs. But they also want to stay abreast of current industry trends in the working environment. The rise of remote-capable work is driving many employers to implement unassigned seating throughout their open offices. Dating back to the 90s, “hot-desking” or “hoteling” models of office layout aim to get the most use out of the least amount of space.
Offices are transitioning from cubicle farms or assigned workstations in open offices to unassigned workstations. This raises new concerns for both employers and employees regarding how to best use the space while maintaining comfort and productivity. The best way to promote this cultural shift is through adequate support at the following levels:
- Unique and varied space types
- Ergonomic, user-friendly furniture and technology
- Updated work policies
- Training on how to use the space
First, support employees with unique and varied space types. It’s important that you supplement the standard desk with more customizable features to ensure employees can achieve comfort and maintain maximum levels of productivity. Having dedicated focused workstations and separate collaboration zones can help employees maintain focus and set the tone for their work style throughout the day as their projects or focus shifts.
Next, ensure that the task chairs are easily adjustable and can support a broad range of the population. Provide useful tools at every desk, such as monitor arms that are highly adjustable and user-friendly, so that setting up the desk is as simple as possible. Consider introducing fully height-adjustable workstations that can allow employees to choose between seated and standing work.
Third, implement policies that will guide employees on how best to participate in the space. Typically, in unassigned seating models, employees come to work and select a new desk based on the options that remain available at the time they arrive to the office. The hoteling concept allows employees to reserve desks to reduce some of the uncertainty of going to the office and having to hunt down a desk each day. Determine which policies work best for your population and stick with them long enough to gather meaningful data before implementing any changes.
Supplement the space policies with guidelines that will directly benefit the employee, like bringing their own device, or arranging for working from home if the type of work will allow it.
Finally, provide adequate training on how best to use the new space. Highlight the importance of using quiet zones when needed, and ensure each employee is confident making basic ergonomic adjustments, both of which can have a positive impact on health and morale of the employees.
Optum On-Site Ergonomic Solutions provide processes and engagement activities to support healthy ergonomic behavior. As the workforce and resources evolve to support business and operations, our ergonomic solutions are designed to address the well-being and safety of organizations and their employees.
About the Author:
Andrea Spangler, MS, AEP, Well AP
Optum On-Site Ergonomist
Angela Spangler is a practicing ergonomist with 5 years of experience in academia, corporate ergonomics and health care ergonomics. As part of Optum On-Site Ergonomic Solutions, Angela focuses on educating employers and employees that cumulative stresses on the body over time can cause injury and limit peoples’ ability to enjoy work, hobbies, sports and even normal daily activities.
She recently has achieved her Well AP credential taking her career one step further into wellness in the built environment.