Desks are probably the most important piece of furniture in an office. It’s a place of concentration and formal working; with stationery and technology all aiding vital tasks being completed successfully. Some spaces have a single desk, while larger spaces may arrange a number of desks in different layouts, each of these ideas serving different purposes. Opting for communal desks in an office, within a single company or across several companies, has many potential benefits to both the individual worker and company as a whole.

Especially for small firms, communal desks are great as a start-up option, with everyone sitting at one desk. That’s from the CEO to the junior staff, all at a station around a single table. This reduces the sense of workplace hierarchy thus promoting a sense of equality, likely to create a friendly atmosphere.

Collaboration and ideas sharing is also likely to occur on a communal desk, as any advice or questions which need to be asked can be done so at ease. This can also strike up discussions, the communal desk doubling up as a casual meeting area, with no need to book one out separately, saving time and effort.

With the office less laid out like a school classroom, the atmosphere is likely to be highly effective for those who enjoy working in a team, yet due to each individual having an assigned space, it still allows for independent working. However those who don’t work well with background noise may not benefit from this approach; it’s not for everyone.

The added space can also be used to layout or categorise paperwork, again the open-plan nature of the space being effective for visual workers and group projects.

A communal desk space which is available to several companies, not just one, has further benefits. As mentioned in our previous post about communal kitchens/break areas within an office, the mixing of people from different companies encourages collaboration on a bigger scale than just within a single company. Ideas and techniques may overlap between companies, boosting enthusiasm and success, be it from formal discussion or casual socialising when mixed on a desk. These communal desks may just be an option for those wishing to work in a different environment from their usual office, offering new surroundings and company to refresh the mind.

These desks may also be ‘hot desks’ where people come and go from day-to-day. Hot desks are great for people who usually work from home and want an office atmosphere, away from distraction and the comfort of their living room sofa. They’re often simple and easy to rent, and the changing of space each day may be refreshing for workers.

Also, not having a set desk encourages tidier working, having to take everything with you at the end of the day instead of leaving paperwork in your usual place, which while handy in being there for the next day; it may eventually clutter the space. Again, hot desks where a worker is likely to be working alongside different faces everyday may offer collaboration, as well as new ideas and perspectives.

Whether communal desks are used amongst a small team within the same firm, or the hot-desking technique is used, the design of the desks is important. In a single firm, design can be anything that will suit the company, as the same people will be around the single desk every day.

For desks shared amongst companies or hot desks, nothing too extravagant and nothing with unnecessary features is a good way to go; simplicity with a few power supply sockets will usually suit most people, allowing them to bring their own extra supplies if needed.  For all types of communal desks, it’s important the height, space and features are universal and accessible for all to use comfortably and effectively.

So while communal desks aren’t for everyone, they’re a great feature to have available in the office. The potential for collaboration and idea-sharing is huge, and could bring growth and success to companies who find communal desks are suited to their employees.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry, with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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