October 02, 2017 Offices In Japan – Part 1: Free Address Seating
Offices In Japan – Part 1: Free Address Seating
In Japan offices deal with a lack of space compared to other countries. In the last few years the concept of free address seating has become more popular for the purpose of alleviating this space problem but also for the purpose of freeing up the staff to give them a choice of where they want to sit. This has the effect of making the office environment more comfortable for the workers, hence making them more productive.
Furniture for free address seating is generally more community-style pieces such as sofas or long tables, so from a cost perspective free address seating also lessens cost for office furnishings.
This is all good in theory, however in practice it does not actually work ideally. Out of the three merit points of free address seating (space saving, freedom/morale, cost-saving) only two of them are actually achieved.
It is true that free address seating saves space. Community-style furniture has less parts and takes less space. It is also tru that free address seating saves cost, since naturally less parts cost less. However free address seating does not really boost employee morale as much as one thinks. Human beings are creatures of habit, so even when offices provide a free address seating system and invite staff to sit anywhere they like the staff usually end up sitting in the same seats every day anyway.
Another drawback to free address seating is less at-hand personal files and storage. For companies that have yet to go paperless, most files are still on paper. It may be easy to move a body around the office but dragging paper files to a new seat every day can be cumbersome. Of course this depends on the nature of a staff member’s job. Salespeople require less paper files while human resources, accounting and secretary-type jobs require much more paper files.
In conclusion, while free address seating is a nice concept, it does not achieve all that it is promised to. While it may save cost and space, it still is not a recommended system for seating for staff whom deal with surplus paper files or other materials.
Ideally, an office would have larger immobile desks with abundant storage for HR and accounting staff while providing free address community-style seating for sales and other staff who come and go regularly. Not all staff have the same requirements and therefore should not have the same seating throughout the office.