While the DNA of ancillary spaces may be rooted in lobby, lounge, and café settings, the importance of these areas has changed entirely since COVID became a part of our lexicon. With remote work, open space, and flex space arrangements now a fact of life for many businesses, ancillary space can be found throughout the entire workplace as organizations look to reduce the number of assigned seats to make room for collaborative work settings that better support flexible, in-office work schedules.
Sadly, ancillary spaces in many buildings are simply not designed to be high performing or to support employees’ physical and cognitive well-being. This clearly can impact the willingness of workers to come back into the office and, in turn, their productivity. Ancillary spaces after all need to work as hard as people do so that employees are able to do their best work.
With that in mind, there are four key considerations to keep in mind to ensure ancillary spaces live up to their full potential.
First, it is essential to balance comfort with function and productivity. One perk of working from home during the pandemic was the ability to work from various settings. Few of those settings worked for the entire workday, however, because they lacked proper ergonomics. For productive work to occur, people need both comfort and proper function. That means surfaces that are large enough to support a laptop and tools (notebooks, samples, reference documents, etc., as well as a degree of privacy.
Next, ancillary spaces must provide a place for workers to put their “stuff.” Whether it’s coffee, a notebook, or research materials, most work won’t get done without this stuff and a place to put it. Unfortunately, if there are no places for stuff, workers will search for another surface to use (which reduces usable work surfaces for other employees) or a different place to work. To avoid that scenario, caddies can be installed which enable employees to deposit their belongings where they’ll be close at hand, while keeping the floor free from tripping hazards.
It’s also important for ancillary spaces to offer furniture options that ensure healthy postures. These include the ability to position monitors at eye level with hands at or below elbow level to keep wrists straight, feet resting flat on the floor, and lumbar supports to prevent slouching. Pairing the wrong pieces of ancillary furniture is an easy way to make employees uncomfortable, leading to distraction and reduced productivity.
Finally, ancillary spaces need to provide easy access to power sources so that mobile workers can plug in phones or laptops wherever they are working. Ancillary spaces should offer a range of power solutions that will keep employees connected without having to hunt for outlets. Solutions like Flex Mobile Power allow workers to grab a unit from the mobile cart, find a comfortable space, and plug in.
By following these simple guidelines, ancillary spaces can advance beyond its roots in design and aesthetic to provide more value than ever before, maximizing employee productivity while simultaneously supporting a broad range of work options.
Lisa Carter is Vice President of Sales at dancker (www.dancker.com), a leading interior solutions company that fully integrates architectural, furniture, and technology solutions as a one-source provider and logistics manager for corporate, education and healthcare facilities.