Illustration of benching

The workbench (benching) is being reinvented, and it’s not “one-size-fits-all.” Understanding worker needs is key to creating the right bench solution.

From the crude wood tables used for centuries by artisans and craftspeople to today’s sleek and technology-infused versions for knowledge workers, benching is a concept that’s continuing to evolve to meet a wide variety of workplace needs.

“The workbench is an enduring workplace tradition, for many good reasons. It’s simple, efficient, straightforward and adaptable”.

In Europe, bench applications have become the norm during recent years. Office designers there have actively embraced benches for their clean aesthetic and the efficiency appeal of a modular product that’s easily configured — and reconfigured.

In North America, the trend to bench has been catching on fast because it’s a hard- working solution that addresses converging business realities, especially:
1) today’s workplace culture that prefers collaboration and networking to closed-off cubicles; and

2) the pressing need to curb real estate costs and adapt spaces quickly to changing business conditions and needs. According to a study completed in 2009, more than 70% of corporate real estate executives have implemented mobile work strategies to boost space efficiency, 71% provide hoteling workspaces, and 75% support working from home.1 Controllingcostswasthemainreason cited for these strategies, but improving worker productivity and efficiency was a hard-pressing second-place driver.

In addition, several other workplace trends are contributing to the fast-growing appeal of benching applications. One is the demand for sustainable buildings that do more with less and provide healthy work environments that allow natural light to permeate deep into the space. (High-performance, sustain- able buildings have been proven to boost employee productivity by 10-20%.2) Another bench-pressing trend is the fast-growing number of mobile workers who want to “see and be seen” during the times they come into the office, thereby quickly connecting with co-workers as well as technology.

Clearly work is changing on many fronts, and it’s virtually impossible to meet new worker needs in existing workplaces. Rethinking the workplace is a proven fast track to creating more productive worker behaviours.

No wonder the benching movement is gaining floor space fast: it dovetails perfectly with key workplace trends going on today. Benching solutions can already be found in many types of organizations, and industry observers have declared that this will be the era of the bench in the workplace as cubicles assume their rightful place in history.

SOURCE: Steelcase WorkSpace Futures
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