It’s no secret that office furniture plays a vital role in the overall productivity of the workers. Ergonomic adjustable chairs, desks and other modern office accessories have reinvented the way we work. The workers’ physical well-being has become more important than ever. What’s more, it’s directly correlated with a boost in productivity.
The recent debate, however, is concerned with office space configuration, or more specifically – with the choice between benching and cubicles.
Whether you are building an office space or relocating your office, you must have wondered about which option to go for. It’s impossible to claim that one is universally more suitable or practical, so here’s a comparative breakdown.
The benching system means that the office space is ‘’lined’’ with bench-like desks that can accommodate multiple workers. In other words, one desk serves as a workstation for more than one worker. You can often see them it open-space offices, even more so than cubicles.
Since it doesn’t involve paneling to divide each person’s workspace, benching saves more space compared to cubicles and other configurations. The office space also looks less cluttered.
In most modern companies, people are used to working in teams. This means that they also spend a lot of time together on a daily basis. Benching allows for a whole team to work at one desk, which is more space-saving than having a separate office. Also, it eliminates the need for the excessive use of the conference room.
What’s more, with the whole teams working together at the same desk, there’s no need for them to move around a lot, going from desk to desk when they need to consult with a colleague face to face. In that way, the office is less crowded.Sitting for a longer period of time often means that you can go for hours without actually moving. When you remain static for so long, the pressure builds up inside your muscles, making you tense. To keep your body as stress-free as possible, you need to account for movement and postural variations.
Whenever you stand up, you activate your whole body, change your posture and stretch almost by default. Muscles throughout your body are activated, so the tension is reduced. What’s more, as you alternate between sitting and standing, your body weight gets re-positioned and redistributed, which prevents the accumulation of physical stress in your body.
With benching, team members can exchange ideas and consult each other instantaneously. There are no walls or panels, and virtually no barriers between team members. Brainstorming is quicker and the whole collaborative process is more streamlined. The response time from co-workers and superiors is significantly reduced.
Encourages informal learning
Working in an open-space benching system makes it easier for employees to exchange information and knowledge informally. The learning process happens simultaneously with performing a work task. Members of the same team can exchange information from their respective fields of expertise. In that way, they complement their existing knowledge with the input provided by their co-workers.
Regardless of the benefits, some workers feel that benching doesn’t allow for enough privacy. This, however, depends on the type of company or project, and not individual preferences. As we already mentioned, most companies make their employees work in teams. In most companies, the on-the-spot exchange of ideas is vital. Where that’s not the case and workers need privacy, benching may not be the best choice.
Cubicles appeared as a much-appreciated alternative to isolated private offices. Office walls were replaced with panels and cubicles became the go-to solution for open office spaces. Cubicles are also a great space-saving solution as they allow for multiple ‘’small’’ offices to exist in a large office space, instead of fewer ‘’traditional’’ offices.
The greatest advantage of cubicles is that they allow for enough private space without the feeling of isolation that often comes with a ‘’regular’’ office. Cubicle dwellers have just enough privacy to stay focused on their work without feeling disconnected from their co-workers.
What’s more, cubicles are felt to provide enough exposure without intimidating the workers. In a benching configuration, workers may feel too exposed and self-conscious because virtually nothing they do can be concealed from their colleagues. With cubicles, there is a healthy dose of exposure – workers know that their colleagues and superiors can easily catch them slacking, but not everything they do is ‘’out in the open’’. This even motivates them to organize their time better.
Somewhat surprisingly, employees working in cubicles make much better use of the wall/panel space than ‘’regular-size’’ office dwellers do. It seems that the size of the cubicle is just right for its dweller to personalize the space without making the workstation cluttered. And the best part? Most of the time, it’s enough only to install a plant or put up a couple of photographs or post-it notes and the space livens up.
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