Whether you refer to it as a benching system or open concept office furniture, this type of desking has its benefits and drawbacks. Take a look at some of the top pros and cons of office benching to determine if this solution could be right for your office.
The Pros of Office Benching
Grouping employees together fosters more collaboration, generating creative ideas and forming stronger relationships between co-workers. Cubicle walls create physical barriers that can severely hinder the employees’ ability to talk to each other and share ideas on the fly.
Not only do cubicles create physical barriers between employees, but they also take up a ton of physical space in your office. Whether your office is large or small, it's always a good idea to maximize the available space.
With a benching system like the NBF Signature Series Element collection, you can fit 2 to 4 employees within a space that may have otherwise been used by only 1 employee in a cubicle setup. Of course, saved space also equates to saved money. Your business costs will be far less per employee when you can fit more people into less space. Plus, the lack of walls typically makes benching systems less expensive than full-panel cubicles.
Most benching systems are modular, so they can be configured and reconfigured repeatedly to support ever-changing office needs. Although you can move cubicle systems, they are much more cumbersome and don't have the range of flexibility that most benching systems have.
For example, most modular furniture can seat 1, 2, 3, or even 4 people at a single workstation, and multiple workstations can be used together in a huge assortment of configurations to create the amount of work surface space needed within a single area. Hire more staff? Add another table to the mix, and your employees are ready to go.
The Cons of Office Benching
Open concept office furniture isn't right for every business or every employee. With a lack of walls comes a lack of privacy, which does not work well for introverts or employees whose jobs require a great deal of focus. Not only are visual distractions everywhere, but noise distractions can severely hinder performance.
To counteract both visual and audible distractions in an open concept workspace, we recommend using a panel system to create a barrier where needed. Keep the lines of communication open between managers and employees so that an individual can work in a space that will be productive for them.
Open concept workspaces often correspond with decreased productivity. In addition to the distractions of people walking by and talking in the surrounding areas, employees in this type of workspace are more prone to chatter throughout the day, thus reducing the time they spend working.
Increased collaboration is positive, but conversation that interferes with work output can be problematic. When co-workers shoot the breeze casually, it leads to greater creativity and employee morale. The tricky part is finding that balance between collaborating enough and talking too much.
Open concept workstations can cause an increased spread of illness and disease (especially during cold and flu season) due to the proximity of employees. To combat this, encourage employees to sanitize their workspaces often and work from home when unwell.
Make Benching Workstations Work for You
Considering incorporating a benching system into your office? Take into account the type of work your employees do. While benching may be appropriate for certain job functions, it will not improve productivity for others. Consider which areas of the office can support a benching structure and which may be more suitable for cubicles or private offices.
For the areas with a benching system, select furniture that is modular enough to give you the flexibility you need. For example, if you hire seasonal employees, you may need a desk system that is easy to reconfigure quickly. If you don't hire new positions often, you may not need as much modularity in your furniture.