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The shrinking desk – has our individual workspace gotten smaller?

flexible working space

Office space has become more sophisticated in recent years, with high-end fixtures and fittings and a great deal of time and money invested in comfort, amenities and wellness.

Businesses routinely incorporate standout design and state-of-the-art facilities – but has our individual workspace gotten smaller?

The British Council of Offices certainly thinks so – it’s latest Office Occupancy Report reveals the average office worker now has 9.6 sq m of working space – down from 9.9 sq m in 2013.

Office density, it says, is showing signs of reaching its limits – but what has caused the reduction in size of individual workspace?

The answer, put simply, is the evolution of the office.

Flexible workspace

People work more flexibly than ever before – it’s neither healthy nor productive to spend the entire working day sitting at the same desk. Established wisdom supports the view that the most effective working environments provide variety – a mixture of formal and informal meeting spaces, social areas and quiet space to reflect.

We also now know that desks are only occupied, on average, for 60 per cent of the working day, supporting the strategy behind the flexible workspace and providing people with an environment that allows them autonomy in where they choose to work – it’s an important shift, recognising employees’ individuality.

Office density

It’s also worth noting that office density isn’t the same across sectors; those working with the legal profession have the largest individual workspace, while professional services professionals have the least.

The workplace ‘campus’

However, the reduction in size of individual workspace shouldn’t necessarily be viewed negatively – it actually indicates a positive shift, with offices taking on a ‘campus’ feel, providing a whole host of additional features and facilities designed to provide employees with the most pleasant environment to spend their time, thereby boosting efficiency, productivity and retaining talent.

The reduction in size of individual workspace is, paradoxically, a reflection of employers’ increasing concern in using the floorplate in a smarter, more innovative and engaging way.

Flexible co-working space

While we’re unlikely to see the size of individual workspace shrink further in the short-term, it’s likely that more businesses will adopt hot-desking, while the growth of co-working concepts and flexible space such as WeWork will continue apace throughout the UK.

It’s an exciting time for the evolution of the office.

With more than 30 years’ experience, Aztec can help you to create a workplace that achieves your aspirations and delivers results – give us a call, we’d love to help!

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