Are we witnessing the
death of the desk?
The desk has always been the office stalwart, for decades, the individual workplace for employees. They have been through numerous changes in shape and style, gained curves, holes for cables, crafted from different materials… but their ethos has always remained the same, as a representation of work – a symbol of routine, repetition and, as considered by more and more, restriction.
The new workspace buzz is that the desk is dead. Employees demand office environments that motivate, to enjoy flexible working and to take advantage of increased mobility through technology. By implementing new working practices and modifying the places in which people work, we have the power to transform working practices, company cultures and even turnover and profit.
At the same time that technology, globalisation, faster travel and flexible working are eroding the tradition of the dedicated desk, companies are waking up to the value, possibility and increased productivity that can be gained from creative working, ways that don’t fit into that conventional one-person-one-desk arrangement. More and more companies are encouraging their employees to use different types of space and are seeing better outcomes.
Workplace studies show that ‘desk utilisation’ is generally below 60%. This means 40% of the time or more, the space isn’t even used. It’s safekeeping a phone or a computer, but there’s nobody there. And space costs money so these redundant desks cost money, money that comes straight off the bottom line.
But the desk is not dead, perhaps just the way we use it. There is no question that we will continue to need desk space and desks, but no longer with the space be limited to the use of one person and more frequently, the use of desk space will be combined with creative working in collaborative areas and combined with the freedom to work offsite. Today’s desks need to be shared and not owned.
The desk needs to evolve in-line with our working practices; material, shape, flexibility and functionality – even its location… can be modified to make for a more comfortable, positive, productive, inspiring and even portable workspace. The desk is not dead, but it can shed its restrictive old skin and take on a new form better suited to a fast-changing, mobile working world.