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Musical Chairs vs. Personal Space: Some of the Smaller Things to Think About

How comfortable are your employees within their work space? Are they comfortable enough to be at ease and working at an optimal level, or are they too comfortable and complacent with their work? There is a delicate correlation between comfort and productivity levels, with a number of factors contributing to the daily experiences of your employees. One major factor that has received a significant amount of attention and research is the actual placement of employees within the office. There are common methods that we will describe to you, as well as offering to you the associated pros and cons.

Assigned Seating

This is perhaps the most common and traditional employee placement method utilized by companies. Quite simply, each employee is allotted a spot within the location that is theirs to utilize to get their work completed. Typically, preferential assignments are given to employees with seniority or employees within a leadership role (established offices, placement on a higher floor, more lavish adornments, etc).

The Good: Employees feel as though they have a personal space that they can feel at ease during a hectic work day. This can make a real positive impact on the fluctuating stress levels of your employees. Typically the employees that really appreciate this method are the ones that adorn their desks with pictures, organizers etc.

The Bad: Assigned seating if done inappropriately can result in compartmentalization, isolation, or disruption. Disruptive employees often negatively impact the performance of those around them (excessive talking, strange habits, creating clutter, etc.). If there is no fluidity in the seating arrangement, overall performance levels can drop. Additionally, if employees feel isolated from each other, the exchange of knowledge and communication is rendered inoperable.

The Ugly: It is critical that you gauge the type of employees within your organization and be wary of territorial behaviors. It is so often the case that employees behave negatively when they feel someone is infringing upon their personal space or using company property that they misconstrue as theirs.

Fluid Seating Arrangements

This is an attribute of fairly contemporary companies, wherein there is no assigned seating. Employees are given the opportunity to work in a different location that changes at a regular interval. This method typically puts all employees on an even keel and employees find themselves with the opportunity to work with different members of the team.

The Good: Knowledge transfer and communication is typically at an all time high. An employee that is weak in a certain aspect can find themselves near someone that is strong in that aspect. There is then an almost innate learning that can happen, and employees will naturally bring each other up to snuff.

The Bad: Fluid seating arrangements may not even be plausible if you do not have the space to facilitate it. Additionally, Fluid seating arrangements may make confidentiality and discussions between management difficult to facilitate.

The Ugly: By adopting a fluid seating arrangement, you may be removing the employees’ ability to personalize their spaces. Personal space is often viewed as a “Safe Space,” or somewhere an employee can retreat to for a reprieve. The average workday within your company may be hectic and your employees may find them overly exposed to the chaos of the day.

It is our hope that our readers can gain some new insight from the content that we release. New material is released on a weekly basis, and is a great resource for professionals, job seekers, and employers alike. Please subscribe to our blog, and continue to grow and learn with us.

Michael Chiovitti, Chief Talent Strategist

Eden Resources, LLC


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