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Normally, offices have seating plans that managers or higher ups decide where the employer should work.

Do some offices let the employees to seat where they want, making it "first-come-first serve"? What would be required if the office change the seating plan to "first-come-first-served" basis? It would be like going to a library, if there is no place to sit, you would have to pick the worst seat in that area.

As well as, what would be the pros and cons? If we make this "first-come-first-served" would we need to remove the cubicles in the office?

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    There have been all sorts of experiments about seating arrangements and office furniture over the last 25 years, from furniture makers, anthropologists, industrial engineers, etc. There is plenty of information you should be able to find about this, including concepts like 'hotelling'. – John Feltz Dec 21 '16 at 21:44
  • Is this really intended to be a DAILY "first come first serve" or more like a freestyle "you guys divide up the seats based on whatever works best for you and we'll stick to that for a few months"? – Erik Dec 21 '16 at 22:52
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    This is also called hot desking – Peter M Dec 21 '16 at 22:55
  • I worked at a place where you were given the choice of picking any desk/cubicle in the appropriate section of the building, and then that became yours until there was some reason to move you. I suppose that's something like a hybrid of your idea. But I also have never - and couldn't seriously recommend - a strictly "first-come-first-served" daily office switching. It would really only make sense if you had a wide-open type of work area, everyone who needed computers used laptops, there was no storage/cabinets in use or personal supplies, etc. Never worked at such a place, or heard of one. – BrianH Dec 22 '16 at 0:08
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    This is a silly idea. If you have equipment, ie a pc for programming, are you supposed to take it home with you and re-connect it each morning. I have a workstation (not a laptop) and this would be cray cray. – Mister Positive Dec 22 '16 at 13:06
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I don't think this is a good idea. In my experience, people customize their working spaces to best fit their style over time. Within those spaces, they feel comfortable, and are able to get into the mental groove needed to get their jobs done.

By removing the stability of having a place to call their own, you're introducing more stress into their work-lives.

  • Will that spot I like be available again?

  • Will that one guy who never shuts up sit next to me again?

  • Will I lost my spot if I go out for lunch?

It's a bit like trying to get the best parking spot, except it's far more likely to cause friction between your employees.

You would be operating much like a library, yes, except a library is not a place where you're expected to be for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50-ish weeks a year. In a library you don't have the expectation of getting the best spot, and thus resign yourself to simply getting some work done in peace and quiet.

At work your expectations are completely different. And introducing a daily competition for prime work-spaces is, in my opinion, going to cause enmity among employees, destroy team cohesion, and kill morale.

Some companies do use this sort of arrangement, where they give employees laptops, and let them sit wherever they choose in the office. This arrangement might be well suited to some businesses, and if your employees are younger, millennial types. However, not everyone is going to react well to this, and you are also going to lose out on talent because of your quirky arrangement. I'd like to offer a personal example:

I'm a guy who enjoys working in peace and quiet. I don't shy away from social interaction, and do find I crave it, but prefer to be the one to initiate it, not have it thrust upon me, randomly. As such, I value my privacy, and like having a cubicle where I can sort of "seal myself in", and focus on my work. Last year I interviewed with a company in Toronto whose offices were located in a former factory's great hall. Everyone worked at, essentially, folding tables, in rows going back all the way to the end of the hall, maybe 20 of them to a row. The sales team would be on the phone at the front, while the developers were all slumped in their chairs, headphones over their ears, trying to pretend that the world around them doesn't exist, and failing. I hated it from the second I set foot through the door, and almost walked out right there and then.

Consider your employee's culture and age group before making these sort of sweeping changes. Maybe prepare an employee survey, and ask them about what sort of seating arrangement they would prefer before making sweeping changes.

I would speak to your boss and ask him what his goals are in doing all this. Modernizing the workplace? Saving on furniture? Engaging the team? Once you know what he's trying to accomplish, try giving your employees a choice in all this. This will feel that they have a say in how things are done, and will most certainly boost both morale, and engagement.

A word of warning, however: if you do ask them what they want, then blatantly ignore it, then that will hurt morale.

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    I can think of no pros to going to first come first serve as far as employees are concerned. The main pro for the company is that they tend to pay for fewer seats than employees on the assumption that some will be working from home or off every day. You forgot list as one of the cons that it would make it difficult to recruit good employees as many, like me, would not consider working is such a place. – HLGEM Dec 21 '16 at 21:21
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    @Prodnegel thats not true, if you really hate sitting with someone you can talk to manager to arrange your sitting, so you can permanently not sitting next to that guy. In contrary to 1st come 1st server you will always have chance to have that person sit beside you. – kirie Dec 22 '16 at 9:41
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    This idea will never gain serious traction in any workplace where personalized equipment is used ( PC/Workstation ). – Mister Positive Dec 22 '16 at 13:07
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    @LSJ That is the absolute worst reason to make office decisions. "Hey, Tesla/Facebook/Google/Big Corp does this new trendy thing and they're a really successful company! Maybe if we do it we will be a successful company too!" NO. Those types of companies are often incredibly unique atmospheres and things that work for them are not likely to work for the average workplace. Make business decisions because they make sense for your team and your company, not because the cool kids are doing it. – David K Dec 22 '16 at 17:58
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    @kirie I see it both ways. In most companies asking your boss to move seats would come off as complaining, which is generally a big no no when it comes to gaining respect and admiration in the workplace. With this "sit wherever" plan, you wouldn't have to complain, you would just get up and move. I do understand your point though! – Prodnegel Dec 22 '16 at 22:17
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This can and does work, however not in the way that you think. As the other answer has pointed out, people like to have their own space setup the way they want. Their desk is their private space to get work done. So instead of making the person move, one company (That I know of) has made it so the desks can move.

Source: Page 6 section Why does your desk have wheels?

If the infrastructure has been setup for it, it can and does work for companies where the teams need to be constantly changing depending on the projects that happen.

Do remember, one shoe does not fit all sizes, so some companies will have different setups, in the end, it's whatever works best for the company.

  • That is an interesting concept I have not seen implemented yet. Would be interesting to see a study on that. – Mister Positive Dec 22 '16 at 15:48

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