Non-territorial offices: a growing trend in the workplace

Organisational Psychologist George Mylonas presented his research about the costs and benefits of non-territorial workspaces at the IOP conference. A non-territorial workspace refers to shared space in the workplace that no one owns. According to Mylonas, rapid advances in technology, increasing rental rates for commercial property and under-used space has sparked an increase in organisations exploring non-territorial layouts, such as hot-desking and hotelling. ‘Hot-desking’ refers to being a temporary occupant of a work space or station, whereas ‘hotelling’ is reservation-based unassigned seating that requires employees to select and ‘check-in’ to a work location. The underlying premise of these types of layout is that workers will not all be in the office at the same time.

The primary motivation for a non-territorial office layout is typically cost reduction through space saving. Non-territorial offices maximise space when there are more employees than there are workspaces. In fact, it has been estimated that organisations can accommodate 20-40% more staff by using hot-desking (SMH, 2011).

However, there are also a range of challenges associated with this new trend. Benefits and drawbacks of non-territorial offices presented by Mylonas at the conference include:

In his presentation, Mylonas concluded that non-territorial offices are not appropriate for all companies and all types of work. Such practices are far from risk free and should be considered in the context of each specific organisation. Although an exciting new possibility, organisations should carefully consider whether this type of work environment is right for them before adopting this latest trend.

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