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  • Writer's pictureSteve Henigan

The Idiots Guide to Workplace Ratios

As workplace consultants we love a buzz word. Agile, ABW, Hybrid and the list goes on. We also love excel and the ability to play with scenarios and apply ratios. However in combining an agile work environment with a hybrid workforce I think we are collectively confusing where and how ratios are used and so I wanted to provide some simple definitions and guidance on how they should be used.

Starting with the basics.

Agile Sharing Ratio - This type of ratio is typically used when alternative settings are introduced into a workspace to support different types of activities. The result in less time being spent at desk. In this instance an individual will come into the office and use an unassigned desk when required, normally encouraged to leave the desk free at the times when they are not using it. Pre-covid an 8 desk to 10 people ratio was considered a conservative starting point for most organisations although we have seen many successful projects at 7, 6 or even 5 desks to 10 people.

Hybrid Sharing Ratio - Most organisations have embraced some degree of hybrid working since the pandemic and a requirement of being in the office 2-3 days a week would seem to be the norm for many organisations. The logic follows that if people are not in the office every day they do not need their own desk and therefore desk sharing can be introduced. On a 3 days in the office basis logic would suggest a 6 desk to 10 people ratio would seem appropriate although consider that this assumes equal attendance across all days of the week, including a Friday and we know most peoples view on that!

Principles to Consider

  • When developing a new workplace strategy consider your agile and hybrid requirements separately before trying to work out a combined ratio.

  • To introduce an agile sharing ratio you must introduce the right number of alternative settings to support agility/ movement inside the office. In today’s world this need to include the right amount of suitable spaces to take/ join video and audio calls. If you don’t then this is really just hot desking and we all know the conations that are attached to that.

  • Do you need a booking system? A booking system is great for providing certainty on having a desk when someone comes into the office although it will stop the development of agile behaviours. If people have ownership of a desk for a day or even half a day they will be less inclined to work agile.

  • When creating a hybrid sharing ratio engage with the business and be realistic with expected working patterns. If people come in and cant find a desk they will default to home working.

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