Corporate Culture & Productivity

Flexible office seating: improving the employee experience

David Spence
December 3rd, 2019
flexible seating

As a result of technology-fueled changes, two of the most significant trends that have shaped the modern workforce are flexible office seating and flexible work. Both are not only altering how people work, but they’re changing the way they think about work, too.

So what exactly is the difference between the two?

In this post, we’re taking a look at why businesses should consider both flexible work and flexible office seating for their employees. First, let’s talk more about what the two are and why they’re important.

What are flexible working and flexible office seating?

Flexible working means allowing employees to work wherever and whenever they are most productive. For example, if employees prefer to start working at 7:00 am, rather than the traditional start time of 9:00 am, they can do so. In this case, they can end their day earlier, too.

Flexible office seating refers to the physical workspace of a company. Flexible office seating is seating that a workplace provides that’s not necessarily assigned to one person. In some offices, employees may use desk booking to book a specific seat, or use various spaces as they are available. These spaces typically have large, open areas with smaller private offices or rooms throughout. This allows employees to work in an environment that is most conducive to their productivity. For example, some employees may be the happiest working in silence, while others prefer the energy of being around others. With flexible office seating, they can do just that. 

How impactful are flexible working and flexible office seating? In short, both can make a huge difference!

According to a study from Deloitte, a lack of flexibility at work is the leading reason why millennials would quit their job. What’s more, a study from Stanford University found that companies that offer remote work flexibility had employee turnover rates decrease by a whopping 50%. 




In addition, there are several notable benefits of workplace flexibility. It can:

  • Increase employee productivity
  • Improve the quality of employee work
  • Decrease absenteeism
  • Raise employee happiness

Collectively, all of these benefits create a positive employee experience and company culture, which is one of the most important things for employees.

With that being said, let’s take a look at a few ways businesses can make a flexible office space a reality.

flexible seating

Flexible office seating

Seating is a perfect place to introduce flexibility to the workplace. Here are a few ways you can start.

Alternate workspaces

Not all employees work the same; some prefer quiet areas to crank out work while others like the buzz of a busy office. A great first step in creating a flexible office space is to provide employees with a variety of spaces that are conducive for this type of work.

Flexible furniture, multi-purpose rooms, offices, and lounge areas are all components of creating the ultimate flexible workspace. Creating spaces for different types of work—quiet-only rooms, collaborative areas for brainstorming, small conference rooms—allow employees to work where they can be most productive.

Not only are the spaces themselves important, but the furniture you choose is also equally as important. Ergonomic desk chairs, standing desks, and movable furniture can help employees do their best work while feeling comfortable.

Take a page from companies like these for design inspiration:

Though these are coworking spaces, they are designed with the intent to provide flexibility to anyone who chooses to spend time working there. These companies are onto something, which is why they’re so popular.

Hot desking and hotelling

Hot desking and hotelling are great ways to offer incredible flexibility to employees.

Hot desking is the concept that employees don’t have assigned desks and instead can view available offices and check into the desk of their choosing. Hot desking is on a first-come, first-served basis. Hotelling is similar to hot desking, except employees can reserve a desk ahead of time.

Both hot desking and hotelling make it easy for employees to work where they prefer. Instead of having to make do with whatever workspace they’re assigned, employees can choose where they work.

Both are great for collaborative purposes. For example, employees can sit next to other team members working on similar projects, or near those they may not typically sit near due to traditional department seating.

It’s also great for those days where employees want a little more solitude. For example, employees can book a desk that’s in a quieter part of the office.

Not only are hot desking and hotelling great for increasing employee flexibility, but both features help cut down on real estate costs as well. Wasted or excess space is eliminated, streamlining the office to allow just for what employees actually need.

Room and desk booking software

The key to implementing a successful hot desking and hotelling strategy is to have the right software. Software that’s built for the flexible workplace will show you desk and room availability in real time.

It’s important to choose software that makes it easy for employees to book desks, view what’s available, search for spaces, and book on the go. Software that will let employees book a desk or room from anywhere on any device, as well as being able to locate that desk saves time and eliminates stress.

Despite these perks, hot desking and hotelling may feel a bit impersonal—or like employees are just random numbers assigned to a desk. Having an app that makes personalized recommendations, like where they might like to sit based on their previous bookings or preferences, can make all the difference.

The right software will also help facility managers track and analyze usage and occupancy data, which is imperative to optimizing the workspace, making a case for budgets, and other building matters. Having data like this on hand helps facility managers make decisions about workplace operations, real estate, and more. When using sensors along with desk booking software, more data can be recorded to ensure reports are as accurate as possible.

flexible seating

Flexible working

What do you think of when you hear the words “flexible working?” If working on the beach in your pajamas is the visual that comes to mind, we can assure you that is certainly not the case. Let’s take a look at a few ways to implement flexible work into your company.

Working remotely

One of the most significant shifts in the state of the working world is the evolution of remote work. Not just the technology that makes remote work possible (and easier), but moving towards a society that is more accepting of letting employees work remotely.

A study from the University of Warwick found that people tend to work harder when they’re happy—12% harder in fact. But not only are employees happier and more productive when they work from home, it can also save companies thousands. A study from Global Workplace Analytics found that the average company can save around $11,000 per employee per year just by letting them work from home half the time. 

Despite all the great things about remote work, it’s important to set expectations and communicate them clearly to your employees. Make sure you have the proper infrastructure for successful remote work. Set clear boundaries around communication, meetings, software, and processes beforehand, and the transition will be much smoother. It’s essential to trust your employees and give them the autonomy to dictate their workday. After all, no employee likes to be micromanaged

Depending on your company and culture, it might make sense to introduce remote work slowly, see how it impacts the company, and go from there.



Flexible working hours

More companies are introducing the idea of flexible working hours, meaning employees don’t have to observe traditional 9-5 working hours and instead can work when they are most productive.

Like working from home, flexible working hours are great for many reasons, including:

Of course, employees need to be available for meetings and communication with the company, but the reason why this structure is so successful because it empowers employees to take control of their days and work when it’s best for them.

flexible remote working

Flexibility makes for a better place to work

There’s a huge emphasis on work-life balance and making sure employees are happy these days. After all, happy employees are productive employees.

One of the best parts about creating a flexible work environment is that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions; you can tailor flexible office elements in whatever way works best for  your company and culture.

A sure-fire way to ensure a smooth transition to a more flexible workplace is clear communication and transparency. As long as you keep employees in the loop and listen to their feedback, you’re sure to create the perfect flexible office space for your company.

If you’d like to see how OfficeSpace can help you create a flexible workplace, book a demo with our team.

Photo Credits: Viktor Hanacek, Austin Distel, Canva Studio, Daria Nepriakhina