This is something that is done so ubiquitously that it might seem strange to even discuss or question it.
When we really think about it, however, it is clear that this common office layout technique only exists for one reason: space efficiency. While, yes, commercial office yields have been going up (depending on what part of the world you are in), factors such as hotdesking, flexible working hours and working from home have also served to lessen the pressure to cram as many workers into the smallest space possible. This layout technique is clearly archaic thinking.
What layout technique am I talking about? Desks pushed against fully-glazed facades.
It seems a logical thing to place a desk in a corner or against a “wall”, but when all the affects are considered, this often non-conscious decisions is made poorly.
There are many problems with this:
Exterior Appearance. Being against glass causes the need for modesty screens to blank out large sections of facade:
Glare / Natural Light Restriction. Especially on a Northern Facade (Southern Facade if you are in Northern Hemisphere), glare causes those sitting at the facade to lower blinds, restricting daylight to office
Focus / Direction. Depending on the size of the space, you may find this results in all workers facing away from everyone – leading to a more disjointed workplace.
What is to be done? It is usually more beneficial to group pods of seats away from facades. This reduces direct sunlight on work surfaces meaning blinds can stay open, presents a uniform appearance to the outside world and groups teams together, looking inward towards each other. Finally, it also removes the distinction between those who get a window seat and those who don’t.
Feature image by Tim S.