Press Release


STAMFORD Conn., March 23, 2021

Gartner Says Workplaces with Shared Seating Will be the New Normal After COVID-19

Approximately 60% of Finance and Real Estate Leaders Are Planning for at Least a Quarter of Employees to be in Shared Seating

A Gartner, Inc. survey of 127 finance and corporate real estate (CRE) leaders in February 2021 showed that 59% of respondents are expecting shared office seating for at least a quarter of their employees who return after the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “An increase in remote working will meaningfully change office space configurations, which will subsequently affect employees, finances and corporate real estate,” said Tammy Shoham, director in the Gartner Finance practice. “The most obvious consequence is that firms will need less office space per employee. While it is difficult to accurately predict the long-term effects that will have on property markets, short-term impacts are already being felt.

 “Many more office workers will need to get used to not having a desk of their own. The space this frees can make room for things that are more useful to employees, such as meeting rooms, or collaboration and amenity spaces.”

Most respondents expected that more than 25% of the workforce would be in shared seating in the next 1-2 years, and 36% anticipate that the majority of employees will be in shared seating (see Figure 1). 

Figure 1. Percentage of Employees in Shared Seating Postpandemic

This is a significant shift from the pre-pandemic workplace, in which 80% of CRE leaders reported that less than 25% of employees were in shared seating. While many had moved teams such as sales functions, which were rarely into the office, into shared seating, most organizations continued to provide dedicated seating prior to the pandemic.

“There’s little doubt that times have changed,” said Ms. Shoham. “The challenge for organizations will be to enact this change in a way so that employees feel they have gained, not lost.”

Gartner experts recommend that CRE leaders consider the following tactics when implementing shared seating in their workplaces:

This is an arrangement whereby employees sit in shared seats within a designated area of the office. Neighborhoods enable team-building and other cultural aspects of an office continue in the new normal.

Seat Reservation Technology
Applications that let employees reserve seating can help relieve uncertainties associated with when to come into the office and whether they will find space to sit. These applications also reduce  the administrative burden of managing shared seating.

Clean Desk Policy
This policy, which some offices already had prepandemic, will become more strictly enforced. Anything left on the desk at the end of the day should be removed, so that the workplace is kept clean and tidy. This will  also ensure the shared seating is in a good state for the next user.

Wipe-in, wipe-out
It is likely that workplace hygiene procedures will continue on an ongoing basis, even postpandemic. Organizations should provide bleach wipes throughout the office space, and require employees to wipe their desk down when they come in and before they leave to promote health and cleanliness in the office.

Overnight Storage
Organizations should offer employees in shared desks with some space, such as a locker, where they can securely store a limited amount of work materials or personal items.

“The offices for the hybrid workforce of the future will cater to fewer employees at once,” said Ms. Shoham. “Shared seating will be the way to avoid having the office feel like a ghost town when employees return. In the long-run, transitioning to shared seating is an important first step toward optimizing the use of office space and preserving the many positive aspects of pre-pandemic office life.”

Gartner clients can hear more details by listening to the following on-demand webinar: Best Practices for Transitioning to Shared Seating and by reading the Gartner reports: 6 Steps for Estimating Shared-Seating Ratios and Build a Business Case for Shared Seating.

Non clients can register for an upcoming webinar on this topic: Panel Discussion: Reopening Offices – What Finance Should Know or learn more about the digital future of finance here: Digital Future of Finance

CFOs and finance leaders can participate in Gartner research and get complementary access by joining the Gartner Research Circle.

About the Gartner Finance Practice
The Gartner Finance practice helps senior finance executives meet their top priorities. Gartner offers a unique breadth and depth of content to support clients’ individual success and deliver on key initiatives that cut across finance functions to drive business impact. Learn more at Follow Gartner for Finance on LinkedIn and Twitter using #GartnerFinance to stay ahead of the latest expert insights and key trends shaping the Finance function.

About the Gartner CFO and Finance Executive Conference
The virtual Gartner CFO and Finance Executive Conference 2021, May 25 – 26, outlines what the future of finance will be and helps CFOs and finance executives define the “new normal” for their teams, and helps create a digital finance footprint that will enable a more nimble structure, set of processes, and people.


Rob van der Meulen
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