Office seating reorganization can improve operational efficiency in many ways. In fact, research shows that there are benefits to shuffling seating arrangements on a regular basis. Here's what you need to know so you can adjust your office seating plan to maximize productivity and foster innovation.

Office Seating Reorganization Research Findings

As the Wall Street Journal reports, research from Sociometric Solutions — a firm that uses sensors to analyze workplace communication patterns — found that "there is only a 5% to 10% chance employees are interacting with someone two rows away." In an effort to counteract this trend, many companies are moving their employees around every few months to increase productivity and collaboration.

Moreover, in the Wall Street Journal article, Christian Catalini — an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management — says that, although grouping employees by department can allow for improved focus and efficiency, mixing them up can foster innovation. Therefore, it's important to think about where you seat your employees.

Researchers from the Harvard Business School, hiQ Labs and Cornerstone OnDemand indicate bottom-line benefits when businesses carefully consider where to situate their employees. By simply adjusting the seating chart, you can improve organizational performance by up to 15 percent, according to Human Resource Executive Online. In other words, you are harnessing the "spillover" effect by seating an employee next to another employee with complementary strengths. However, if a person sits next to someone who is a lesser performer, negative peer spillover can result. "If you sit next to someone who is a really hard worker, you say, 'I'd better step up my game,' and you tend to do better, but as soon as you move away, you say, 'I can take it easy and take a breather,'" says Michael Housman, a workforce scientist in residence at hiQ Labs.

Top Office Design Trends

Open floor plans and unassigned seating, such as multipurpose workspaces, are also becoming increasingly common, according to an article featured in Fast Company. "Not only are cubicles disappearing, but now their replacement — the bench — is being overtaken by non-assigned seating," says Scott Lesizza, a principal at Workwell Partners, a design company specializing in developing efficient workspaces. Oval-shaped desks, as well as adjustable tables for standing meetings, will also become increasingly popular, Lesizza predicts.

Design experts also say that flexible workspace layouts that utilize modular furniture and components are a growing trend, according to Fast Company. This strategy makes rearranging and moving office furniture on the fly easy.

Overall, office seating reorganization may be a strategy to consider, as it can help increase collaboration and create the synergy needed to improve operations.

Tags: operations