What Is Ratio-Based Seating?
Ratio-based seating is the result of a simple reality: In an office, no person remains at their desk 100 percent of the time. Even in the most traditional office, there are sick days, PTO, training, conferences, and any number of events that draw employees away from their assigned desks. In turn, anytime the owner of that desk is away, that resource is wasted.
Ratio-based seating strategically sets up seating arrangements so that there are fewer desks than people—allowing businesses to reclaim wasted space, maximize their capacity, and give workers the freedom to work the way they want. These flexible spaces are often referred to as Agile environments or Activity Based Workplaces.
How Agile Is Your Office?
Every office has a unique culture, unique goals, and unique workforce needs. As a result, ratio-based seating will look different depending on how mature your organization is in terms of workplace flexibility. Here’s the typical journey a business takes as it matures and how ratio-based seating fits into each stage:
A traditional office generally refers to workspaces that use fixed seating. These workplaces often take a one-size-fits-all approach to both space and the structure of the work day—typically including a combination of private offices and open desks. Generally, employees in traditional environments are expected to physically come into the office for work each day.
Transitional offices offer a mix of assigned and unassigned seating. While private offices and open desks still exist in this setting, the environment starts to allow employees to move between shared settings. For instance, in this type of workspace, new spaces may begin to be introduced, such as quiet spaces for employees who need more isolated areas for concentration; or common lounges where workers can collaborate. In this setting, knowledge workers are often allowed to work remotely on occasion.
Modern workplaces are the most flexible. They eliminate the majority of fixed spaces, making exceptions for those who absolutely need it. These environments offer a wide range of shared spaces where employees have the flexibility to choose the workspace that best fits the task they’re currently working on. They often include neighborhoods that are designed to meet the specific needs of teams. Modern spaces also usually focus on building a flexible culture—in both office design and work schedules. In this setting, leaders may introduce additional resources, including storage facilities, spaces to enhance wellness, and tools to promote seamless wayfinding.
Benefits of Moving to More Flexible Seating
Studies show that 25% of employers are introducing unassigned seating, and 52% of the rest plan to do so. That is because the benefits are significant for organizations and employees. Here are some key advantages that Agile workplaces can provide:
Reduce Real Estate Costs
Flexible seating has been proven to reduce real estate costs by 30%. That is because elevated seating ratios increase capacity. Enhanced mobility frees up empty seats, ensuring that every space is put to good use.
Attract and Retain Talent
Flexible spaces have also been shown to be the preference of employees, and can provide an edge in the race for talent. In fact, 70% of employees say that working in Agile spaces is more stimulating.
Employees in Agile spaces are also more productive. Employees in Agile environments demonstrate a 16% increase in productivity over their peers in fixed workplaces. That adds up to 6.4 hours per week, per employee.