It's a catch-22: Companies are switching to flexible seating and making progress toward newer, more modern ways of working. But, despite the advantages of flexible seating, some of the long-held misconceptions employees have about flexible seating persist.
It would be a big mistake not to refresh the corporate office, especially when employees are leaving their jobs in such high numbers the phenomenon has been dubbed "the great resignation" by economists. If you're worried about fueling employee turnover, you may wonder whether the advantages of flexible seating outweigh the risks.
Here we answer the question: Why use flexible seating — and what are the benefits for your employees and for the business?
For flexible seating to be successful, you need to get employee buy-in. The first step is recognizing the impact new workplace policies will have on your employees. In this day and age, a desk booking app is essential. But before implementing a flexible seating solution, give employees a voice and let them know you're willing to listen. Even the most vocal opponents of flexible seating should feel comfortable giving their honest feedback about these changes.
When it comes down to getting everyone on board, employers should work hard to address any concerns their employees have and stay responsive to their needs. Make sure you go beyond the cost-saving benefits. Look at this time as a golden opportunity to build trust and deliver the best possible outcome for everyone.
Predictions about the future of work have been swirling, with most concluding that hybrid work models and user-friendly booking tools will be the path forward.
Modern professionals don't want to be remote all the time, but they don't want to feel forced into being in the office every day, either. Employees these days believe the office's primary purpose is for building community and collaborating in person. Many people feel more energized by the buzz of the office. Just knowing there will be a variety of experiences, opportunities, and spaces in the office give it its appeal.
But making sure there are enough desks available for each employee planning to come into the office can be problematic. And with no set schedule of who is sitting where, employees have to start the day off on an uncertain note, not knowing where they'll be sitting that day and unsure how to find their colleagues.
Rather than succumb to the chaos, companies should consider putting a flexible seating system in place with desk booking software that makes it easy for people to reserve desks in advance, helping them plan their workweek ahead of time with a level of certainty so they can start off on the right foot.
Some people worry that a flexible seating model will mean having to lug all their items — laptops, notebooks, pens, bags, etc. — back and forth throughout the office all day long. And since there are no desk assignments, they worry that people could easily steal something off their reserved desk unnoticed.
There's also another issue to address: Sometimes, people use their items to save their seats and stake a claim on a specific desk — even if it goes against your company's flexible seating policy. One way to combat both that issue and reduce theft is to get lockers. That way there's a space for employees to securely store their personal items and they won't have to worry about misplacing something.
Even some system admins wonder if the supplies provided at individual desks will be more likely to "go missing" or mysteriously break without ever being reported in offices with a flexible seating model. The most common concerns appear to be that if an item breaks, an employee is more likely to walk over to an unoccupied desk to grab a replacement than to submit a ticket and get a replacement following IT protocol. And because it's a mobile-first world and employees will need to plug and unplug their devices into various ports or docking station infrastructure multiple times a day, there may be an uptick in physical damage.
A great way to tackle this issue is to require employees to bring their own mouse and keyboard, and with self-service technology, submit requests from their phones or room display panels will make it easier for employees to notify the relevant teams about items that break or missing resources in the office.
Ultimately, a key part of any flexible seating strategy is having the proper setup, good desk booking software, and communicating workplace seating and IT policies clearly.
During the current health crisis, some employees may feel uncomfortable returning to the office because they're concerned about the implications of shared seating on hygiene and safety. When they sit down at their physically distanced, sanitized desks, they should feel comfortable and safe.
When not managed properly, shared desks can become a breeding ground for germs. That's why the adoption of a flexible seating model should coincide with new safety measures. In the pandemic era, that means knowing the workplace is well-equipped to manage shared desks in the most efficient and accurate way possible.
For those managing the workplace, having access to the latest information will allow their teams to tackle cleaning, sanitation, and other safety measures with ease. Occupancy sensors that integrate with desk booking software help automate these processes by showing utilization in real-time, so your facilities team can ensure that it's properly sanitized between uses.
What about eating at your workstation?
During the pandemic, many of us got accustomed to the desk-side meal. Here's the thing, though: Nobody wants to clean up your lunch crumbs. Imagine that you reserved a desk for the day and drove all the way into the office just to arrive and realize you have to clean up someone else's leftover mess. Some flexible seating protocols restrict eating at shared desks for this very reason.
For other organizations, requiring every employee to wipe down the desk they reserved before leaving for the day is an effective enough measure for minimizing the mess. Wiping down shared surfaces and equipment — using only cleaning supplies that won't cause damage — is a good idea for maintaining a safe environment.
Have you ever heard anyone say they needed a vacation after returning from vacation? Most of us have experienced some level of difficulty making the adjustment from freedom back to life in the office. After time away, our perspective on maintaining a work-life balance may shift a bit.
The same could happen for returning employees. People may have enjoyed the taste of flexibility, without having to deal with frustrating commutes, uncomfortable office attire, and having to wonder whether or not there will be enough time to balance all of their personal and professional responsibilities throughout the day.
If you want to avoid getting pushback, present your employees with a clear vision of how flexible seating will improve their workday. Here are a few of the advantages of flexible seating that employees may find most compelling:
There are many more benefits of flexible seating to consider, including the advantages of flexible seating for working mothers. But at the end of the day, how you articulate the value of a shared seating arrangement should be based on what your organization values and how your workforce expects to use the workplace in the future.
As a general rule, employees hate learning new systems and processes. It's somewhat ironic because while technology is the best antidote for hot desking anxiety and many other post-pandemic concerns, people are creatures of habit and often prefer to stick to what they know.
That's one reason going with a F/OSS or BYOB desk booking app isn't an ideal option for a majority of organizations. Investing in a robust solution tends to be the better option. There's many reasons for this but the biggest benefit is that a third-party flexible seating solution will help save your team time and resources. When deciding to build their own solution, they often underestimate the long-term requirements it takes to design, fix bugs, integrate with our solutions — or find workarounds, and create updates as needed.
With a fully-featured desk booking system that integrates with your existing work calendar, adjusting to flexible seating will be easier than ever for employees. And since the best solutions, including Teem's desk booking software, have already gone through multiple rounds of development and testing, it's easier to implement and easier for employees to learn how to use. That way, there's no unnecessary stress surrounding the switch to flexible seating.
Plus, with Teem you can leverage the data from your space booking software to gain actionable insights into how desks are being utilized, so you know what days of the week are busier, which desks are in high demand, and when you have desks that aren't being used. It's an easy way to make sure you're always on top of what's going on and can stay ready for whatever is coming next.
Make flexible seating arrangements work during COVID-19 with a mobile app that supports desk booking from the safety and comfort of your employees' own devices. For a distributed workforce that juggles office-based work and work-from-home, the ability to book from anywhere is a must-have when it comes to feeling safe when they return to the workplace.
Before leaving their house and dealing with a lengthy commute, people want to know they'll have a desk waiting for them — and that it actually matches up with the type of work they need to accomplish for the day. It's one way for returning employees to regain a sense of certainty in a period of time that's been characterized by uncertainty.
Traditional styles of hot-desking left some employees with a negative taste in their mouths. Fortunately, advancements in technology paved the way for newer, more employee-friendly flexible seating methods.
No matter what your reasons for flexible seating are, Teem's desk booking software can help make your return strategy a success. From managing capacity and reducing physical touchpoints in the office to analyzing utilization patterns and planning ahead, our space booking solution for reserving desks and scheduling meeting rooms is easy to deploy for businesses of all sizes, so you can start seeing the benefits of flexible seating in just moments, not days.
Wondering how to get the most out of your office space while supporting the new expectations of your workforce? In our guide on incorporating modern flexible seating strategies in the workplace, we share guidance on: