Workers collaborating at open office benchingThe Modern Office Bench

The rise of open and flexible offices has led to a revolution in the types of furniture that populate the modern office. Gone are the days of row upon row of cubicles, with companies focusing instead on workspaces that meet their employees’ needs and keep them happy and productive.

One such solution is benching. Benching stations, just as the name implies, are essentially elongated desks that can accommodate several employees and workstations. Businesses have embraced them for a number of reasons—they save space and money, they encourage collaboration, they’re versatile—but they have their drawbacks too.

Like any piece of office furniture, benching is not a catch-all solution, but it does have its place in an agile office space. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of benching stations, and how your furniture dealer can help you use them to their best effect.

The Pros of Benching Stations

Modern office benching stations

  • Increased Collaboration

Barriers inhibit communication. Cubicles, closed-door offices, and other enclosed workspaces make it difficult for collaborative teams to work together easily. Benches, on the other hand, allow employees to work side-by-side and to consult each other freely when need be.

  • Cost- and Space-Effectiveness

Benching stations are an efficient way accommodate multiple employees. They are sleek and simple, which allows them to optimize space usage and reduce costs in ways that bulkier furniture cannot match.

Open office bench workstations

  • Increased Flexibility and Versatility

As opposed to workstations that are designed for a particular use, benching stations can meet the needs of multiple employees and various teams.

  • Openness

The cubicle has become a negative symbol of the dreary modern office, isolating employees and imposing a claustrophobic bleakness on the workplace. While this stereotype might be somewhat unfair, it’s certainly true that open workstations like benches provide a freer, less confining atmosphere for talent.

Flexible office benching station

The Cons of Benching Stations

  • Crowding

Benching is great for accommodating multiple workers in an efficient way, but there is the temptation to place too many employees at one workspace. Overcrowding a bench will lead to an assembly line atmosphere in an otherwise inviting office, and end up feeling just as confining as a closed work station.

  • Lack of Privacy

Though open workspaces can create a sense of freedom for employees, they can also leave them feeling exposed. Employees in open offices have reported experiencing a lack of privacy and feeling as though they are under constant scrutiny and supervision. It’s important for employers to balance open workspaces with more private options for employees who require them.

People working at office benches

  • Noise and Visual Distractions

Though open offices were designed to increase productivity through collaboration, open workstations such as benches can actually decrease productivity among employees working independently. Ambient noise, overheard conversations, and constant visual distractions can make it difficult for staff to concentrate, harming productivity and employee morale alike. There are some products that can reduce these distractions, but there is no alternative as effective as a private workspace.

  • Clutter

We all know how easy it can be to let loose papers, books, and other work materials pile up on our desks, especially in a busy workplace. The work bench is a double-edged sword. It can provide a sense of openness to employees, but it can also put their messes on display, creating for a cluttered and disorganized atmosphere.

How to Make Benching Stations a Success

The bench has its benefits, and it has its drawbacks. The key to getting the most out of it is to use it smartly in a flexible office environment. Here are some steps to consider.

Woman in flexible office environment

  • Determine Which of Your Employees Will Get the Most out of Benching

You’ll want to ask which of your employees, teams, or departments will benefit most from an open and collaborative workspace, and which will thrive under other conditions. Moreover, determine how much benching space will need to be dedicated to one team or employee, and how much should be available on an as-needed basis.

  • Determine Which Areas of Your Office Will Best Support Benching Stations

Naturally, you’ll need adequate room for your benching station, but you’ll also want to consider traffic flow, access to necessary teams, and branding and aesthetics.

  • Provide a Complement of Quiet Areas, Meeting Rooms, and Breakout Spaces

As we noted, benching stations leave employees prone to distractions and a lack of privacy. It’s important to provide them alternative workspaces where they can focus and recharge if they need to.

Women conversing in office kitchen

  • Contact a Furniture Dealer for Help

An experienced and knowledgeable furniture dealer can not only help you pick out the right benching stations for your needs, they can ask the right questions and work closely with you to determine what those needs are. Not only can they help you answer the questions above, they can manage logistical concerns like delivery, installation, and IT integration to make the process as easy and seamless as possible.