Making the shared workstation decision can be a tricky one. Below are two different scenarios based on its concept, as well as the pluses and minuses related to each.
1. The shared pen scenario
In this setup, a specific number of employees would have their desks arranged in an enclosed area.
Pluses: This scenario works best in small offices where frequent verbal communication is a key factor in getting the job done efficiently. Instead of employees taking the time to e-mail, phone, or walk to one another’s desks, they can simply spin around in their chairs or lean over their monitors to ask the question that needs answering. This scenario can also further the sense of friendliness and camaraderie among employees.
This scenario also carries the positive of saving employers space by having desks condensed in mini-enclosures instead of spread about the office’s main floor.
Minuses: The shared pen scenario brings with it the possibility of unnecessary conversation and interaction, which can become a big factor in jobs not getting done on time. It also offers employees very little privacy from one another. For instance, if an employee receives a call from his or her doctor for a talk about a medical situation, everyone else in the pen is going to know said employee’s personal business.
There’s also the noise factor to consider. Will all the business-related conversing among employees in a pen upset other nearby employees’ abilities to focus and work? If you opt to install the shared pen, strongly consider providing your employees a separate room shared by all where they can make personal phone calls, in-depth client phone calls, or simply duck into to get some work done in peace.
2. The shared desk scenario
In this setup, one employee would utilize a desk on, say, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and another would use the same desk on Tuesday and Thursday.
Pluses: The shared desk is a space-saving scenario as well, and it allows employers to cut down on office product expenses — one stapler, one phone, and perhaps even one computer, will be used by two employees.
Minuses: Security and privacy issues. The M-W-F employee may have work done and saved that shouldn’t be seen by the T-Th employee, and vice versa. There are also personal belongings and valuables to consider. For example, the M-W-F employee could come in to work on a Wednesday to discover that his or her Mont Blanc pen is missing. Naturally, the first person the blame is going to fall on is T-Th employee. Needless to say, this situation could create a major headache for an employer.
Should you decide to go with the shared desk scenario, consider giving the employees sharing the desk and its computer separate passwords into your business’ main system; doing so will allow both employees to protect the privacy and content of whatever it is they’re working on.