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 to office benching to find out if this solution could be right for your office.
The Pros of Office Benching
Increased collaboration. Grouping employees together fosters more collaboration between them which can lead to the generation of creative ideas and help form stronger relationships between co-workers. Cubicle walls create physical barriers which can severely hinder the ability for employees to talk amongst each other and share ideas on the fly.
Saved space. 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 space in your office. With a benching system like the NBF Signature Series Element collection you're able to fit two to four employees within a space that may have otherwise been used by only one 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.
Greater flexibility. Most benching systems are modular, meaning they can be configured and reconfigured again and again to support ever-changing office needs. Although cubicle systems can be moved as well, they are much more cumbersome and don't have the range flexibility that most benching systems have. For example, the modular Mayline Even collection has the ability to seat one, two, three or four 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? Simply add another table to the mix and your employees are ready to go.
The Cons of Office Benching
Distractions abound. Open concept office furniture isn't right for every business or for every employee. With a lack of walls comes a lack of privacy, and that does not jive well with introverts or with 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 utilizing a panel system such as the NBF Signature Series Division panels to create a barrier for the employees who need it. Be sure to 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.
Decreased productivity. Piggy-backing on the statement above, open concept workspaces have been known to correspond with a decrease in 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 are spending outputting work. Now, this can also be a positive as stated above in the 'increased collaboration' section. When co-workers shoot the breeze casually with each other, it leads to greater creativity and employee morale. The tricky part is finding that balance between collaborating enough and talking way too much.
Spread illness. Of particular concern in the cold and flu months, open concept workstations can cause a greater spread of illness and disease due to the close proximity of employees to one another. To combat this, encourage employees to sanitize their workspace often and give them the ability to work from home when they are too sick to come in.
Make Benching Workstations Work for You
Considering incorporating a benching system into your office? Take into account the type of work your employees will be doing. While benching may be appropriate for certain job functions, it will not improve productivity for others. Take careful consideration of which areas of the office can support a benching structure and which may be more suitable for cubicles or private offices. For the areas that do utilize 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 very easy to evolve at a moment's notice. If you don't hire for new positions often, you may not need as much modularity in your furniture.