How Flexible Seating Arrangements Can Improve Your Hybrid Office

Sophia Lee
March 22, 2022
flexible seating arrangements, flexible office, flexible workplace, hybrid workplace

The pandemic introduced drastic changes to the way we work—from popularizing the hybrid office to allowing flexible hours. 

If you dig deeper, the underlying theme of all these trends is that your employees want to choose when, where, and how they work. For some, that means working out of the office several times a week. For others, it means going to a coworking space once a month. 

In this post, we’ll introduce another way to address your employees’ desires to have more autonomy over the way they work: flexible seating arrangements.

What is flexible seating?

Flexible seating refers to any office arrangement where employees don’t have a permanently assigned seat within an office. 

If you’re not familiar with this concept, it may feel odd at first. Why wouldn’t you want every employee to have an assigned place to work?

While having assigned seats for a fully in-person team makes sense, hybrid offices function a bit differently. Since most employees won’t be in the office every day, you don’t need a dedicated desk for every person. 

Instead, you can give your workforce even more autonomy by letting them choose where they want to sit—depending on their personal preference, who they need to work with, and what they want to accomplish that day. 

However, don’t be afraid to get creative, depending on what your employees need! It's OK to have a combination of different arrangements. For instance, you can have flexible seating for your hybrid employees and assign permanent seats for people who are in the office every day. Or, you can still keep dedicated desks for specific orgs within your company, or for your executive team, or for you HR and People Ops staff—you get the idea.

Types of flexible seating arrangements 

There are multiple ways you can set up your flexible seating arrangement. Let’s review a few of the most common approaches: 

Hot desking

Hot desking is a popular form of flexible seating. With "hot desks," any desk is open and available to be used by any employee. With this setup, your employees select their workspace when they arrive at the office, depending on what’s available. This means that people may end up sitting at a different seat every time they come into the office. 

Desk booking

One way to streamline the flexible seating process is to use desk booking, and allow employees to pre-book the desk they want to sit at. This can be done manually (for instance, your employees could email or Slack a member of your team to reserve a desk), but it’s much easier with a tool, like Eden Workplace's Desk Booking software. By using a tool for desk booking, employees can view open desks and reserve their workstations before coming into the office. Offering desk booking can be a great way to complement your hot desking setup.

Desk hoteling 

Desk hoteling is a very similar concept to desk booking. Desk hoteling software also allows team members to reserve a desk space—with the added caveat that they have to “check-in” and “check-out” of their workstation (similar to a hotel reservation). 

4 benefits of flexible seating arrangements

If you’re uncertain about whether flexible seating arrangements are right for your hybrid office, here are some benefits to consider: 

1. Reduced costs

One of the upsides of flexible seating is that it’s more cost-effective for your company.

Here’s why: 

  • Allows for a smaller office space 
  • Requires fewer desks since not everyone is in the office at the same time
  • Creates fewer maintenance issues at workstations

A flexible seating setup is also more efficient since you don’t have to worry about wasting resources on unused desks. Instead, you can use desk booking software to monitor your space utilization and only add workstations when demand proves you really need them. 

2. Improved collaboration

Having flexible seating arrangements is also great for collaboration. If certain employees want to sit together to work on a project or help each other with a problem, they have the option to do that.

With "traditional" office seating, everyone typically sits with their team. While this is important, it's also valuable to allow employees a chance to sit near team members they don't always interact with—which breaks down silos and allows for greater cross-collaboration. Using a tool like Eden Workplace gives you the flexibility to go either route; you can designate office "neighborhoods" for each department, have a completely open floor plan, or set up a combination of the two.

3. Increased productivity 

Everyone has different working preferences—and these can change on a day-to-day basis. Your employee might be in a mood to socialize one day but prefer to have head-down time the next. 

Having flexible seating arrangements lets your employees choose where they want to work depending on their needs when they go into the office. When you give people this flexibility, they’re more likely to be productive and satisfied with their work setup. This, in turn, leads to better business outcomes (and a happier team).

4. Easier to keep the office clean

When employees have assigned seats, they tend to create more clutter—keeping personal items at their workstations or leaving dirty plates on the desk. 

This creates more work for the office management team and clean-up crew, not to mention it can pose safety risks during COVID. With flexible seating, your employees understand that they can’t leave a mess behind and are more likely to clean up after themselves. 

Consider flexible seating for your hybrid office

There are small, but meaningful, changes you can make to create the best hybrid office experience for your employees. Offering flexible seating arrangements is a great first step that you can take as an organization—and one that will save costs, help your employees work better, and keep everyone safe in the office. 

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