Traditionally, offices are laid out with individual cubicles, enclosed offices and boardrooms, segregating the office and staff into their assigned areas. However, recent research into staff retention suggests that such environments can be detrimental to an employee's overall efficiency.
Unassigned workspaces provide a free environment for employees to choose their own free-from-clutter workspace. They also provide an opportunity to work closely in the appropriate groups with the relevant colleagues on any given project. Offices should be laid out or set up to ensure optimal collaboration and co-operation efficiency between staff; it would appear that single cubicles or individual offices work against that.
The concept can be altered or adapted to suit any work environment but the principal remains the same; there are no allocated workspaces. An unassigned workspace typically consists of a telephone or mobile phone socket (with or without individual employee codes) and a laptop docking station where employees can plug in their laptop (with or without a full-size monitor, keyboard and mouse).
One of the greatest advantages of unassigned workspaces is the environmental benefit it carries. Traditional cubicles and/or individual offices are invariably fitted out with an individual desktop computer, printer, telephone, laptop charger, mobile phone/PDA charger and reams of paper. An unassigned workspace allows the employer to substantially reduce the number of fixed (and often idle) appliances. Unassigned workspaces are normally complemented by central printer stations (as opposed to individual printers). Centralized printer stations with individual staff "release-print-job-codes" also substantially reduce the amount of paper used in an office.
Mobile phone/PDA and laptop chargers consume trickle or phantom energy even when they are not plugged into their devises, the same with monitors and desktop computers. Unassigned workspaces can be set up to not consume any trickle energy when they are not being used; preventing this unnecessary energy wastage.
Companies such as IBM, Cisco Systems and Saber Holdings have already adopted unassigned workspaces, resulting in significant savings and results.