03/25/2020 • 3 min read

3 Reasons for Unassigned Workspaces

Smart design that saves space

by Haworth, Inc.

You’ve heard the buzzwords for unassigned spaces at work—hot-desking, hoteling, activity-based workspaces. But do you know why this workplace design trend has gained traction in recent years?

The short answer: Because unassigned workspaces optimize more than space itself.

These workspaces also support people and the variety of activities they do throughout the day. Providing clean, comfortable spots for each user who occupies or flows through these spaces enhances the experience for the diverse ways they work—on their own and with others.

Let’s look at three key reasons business leaders are taking advantage of the benefits of unassigned workspaces.

Attract and Retain Top Talent

The top trend that’s changing hiring and talent retention may surprise you: “Your company will work for employees, not just the other way around,” according to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2020 Report. In practice, this means employee experience (EX) is reshaping how businesses attract and retain talent.

EX goes beyond employee engagement. It encompasses everything an employee observes, feels, and interacts with as part of their company. This includes the physical workspace and environment.

Creating a variety of unassigned workspaces enhances EX by:

  • Offering choices in workspace types to meet individual preferences
  • Enhancing community, connection, and collaboration through readily available tech and power options, with a comfortable amount of physical spacing between individuals
  • Supporting well-being and peace of mind by ensuring spaces are thoroughly cleaned and offer each user sanitizing tools (e.g., spray, wipes, hand sanitizer) 
  • Providing spaces that support movement, so people can change posture, position, and location at will

Replacing assigned workspaces with designated areas for focus, collaboration, and rejuvenation instills a feeling of trust. People can work where they want. By giving employees the freedom to move about throughout the day, a company signals that management has confidence employees will use their time wisely. Trust like this goes a long way to attract and keep top talent.

Lower Overhead Costs

The Wall Street Journal reports that on average 20% to 40% of traditional workstations are unoccupied. Businesses wouldn’t keep this much extra inventory in stock, so why would they maintain unused office space? Instead, they’re transforming workspaces to support the newer ways of working.

Mobile technology, flexible schedules, and flat organizational structures provide opportunities to rethink workspaces. Using workspace design concepts that support various activities, businesses can optimize space and, in turn, lower overhead costs.

A space reconfigured for activity-based work can also free up room for top-notch amenities. Repurposed space can be transformed into a fitness center, café, game room, or relaxation space that will help attract and retain talent (see Reason #1).  

Foster Creativity and Innovation

LinkedIn’s data mining of its network shows that the number one skill companies need most in 2020 is creativity. Organizations that value and encourage a rhythm of activities (including individual and group focus, as well as individual and group restoration) improve their innovation efforts to the benefit of their bottom lines.

Throughout the day, an unassigned environment gives employees access to individual workspaces when they need to focus as well as collaborative spaces where they can share ideas and plan collectively.

It’s Really about People

Discussion of workspace design can easily turn to furnishings and floorplans. However, leaders who want to reap all the benefits of a flexible workspace need to adopt a holistic mindset that focuses on the people who use the workspace.

Providing a mix of spaces gives people a good balance of supportive options to suit their personal workstyles, allowing them—and their ideas—to flourish.

Learn more about optimizing space in open environments to provide support for focus work in “5 Ways to Improve Focus at Work.”

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