Workplace Operating Models

Workplace desk demand is at an all-time low, and though levels may (may!) increase from the levels seen during 2021 and 2022 (after some post-pandemic ‘return to the office’ was seen) they will not return near to pre-COVID-19 levels unless organisations mandate a full return to the office.


This means two things:

  1. Organisations have an opportunity to reduce space (and therefore costs) on a scale never before seen
  2. True desk-sharing will be a key part of workplaces from this point forward (and it will need to work properly)


What you can't do is just reduce your office space and expect all the benefits to magically appear.


Remembering that the objective of the workplace is to support optimum staff productivity with the minimum necessary space…


What's needed is to understand how the workplace's shared spaces will need to operate in order to deliver the sought objectives.


The typical (pre-pandemic) workplace operating and sharing models understood by teams and managers will not work going forward. These models involved Team Zones (sometimes called Villages or Neighbourhoods) where each team ‘owns’ a fixed set of desks and is responsible for managing rotas to ensure that they can cope with fewer desks than people.


Actually, you may not have noticed, but these Team Zones didn’t work particularly well even before the pandemic.


Why Team Zones don’t work...


Before COVID, organisations were often working on ratios of 7:10 or similar. I.e. where a team of 10 people were asked to manage with just 7 desks.


If demand for desks now is on average about half of what it was before COVID-19, then it follows that an organisation will now expect its managers to cope with 3 or 4 desks for every 10 people in the team.


If we start asking team leaders to manage rotas ensuring that no more than 3 of their people out of every 10 are in the office at the same time, how much impact will managing and updating rotas (and keeping individual staff happy) have on their own productivity?


We know that one of the things team miss most when they are largely based at home is real face-to-face collaboration with their team mates. How can teams achieve any level of real collaboration between their team members when they are restricted to 3 desks for every 10 heads?


New workplace models are required to enable team mates to work together – and in significant numbers – when they want or need to be in the office – AUTOMATICALLY – and completely without the need to spend hours negotiating with neighbouring teams for the loan of all their desk spaces.


This is what Plan B Solutions does and we know the key function groups necessary in desk booking systems to support these new ways of working.