How to optimize desk assignments?
February 21, 2007 2:47 PM Subscribe
In the office we’ll be moving to soon, we’ll have about 50 desks, and almost that many workers to be assigned to them. How can we optimize who’s assigned to each desk so that as many workers as possible are as pleased as possible with their desk assignment?
posted by daisyace to Work & Money (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We’d like to have people make desk selections or rank their preferences in some way, and then make assignments accordingly. The assignments are unlikely to be influenced by seniority or hierarchy.
Desks and groups of desks vary in ways that make them more or less desirable to different people -- e.g., more or less sun (which means better or worse views to some people, and tolerable or intolerable glare on their computers to others), aisle seats vs. middle seats in a row of desks, etc. There are also at least two factors that we’d like to take into account, but that don’t correspond to individual desks that people could rank or select. First, there are people who want to work quietly and others who like music and conversation. Likewise, there are areas of the building that are naturally quieter or livelier, but we can also define areas as quiet or lively based on how many people have each preference. Second, there are communities and relationships: people who want to sit together, and perhaps people who don’t want to sit near particular others.
We’ve considered just pulling desk numbers from a hat and then perhaps allowing trades. We’ve considered making assignments temporary so everyone gets a chance at a good desk some time. We’ve considered having everyone write down their top choices, and then doing the best we can to meet them. But it’s not obvious how best to do that. It would be nice to have a system that does so with optimal results. I think doing so should probably reward flexibility, such that someone who is willing to take any desk except a few is very likely to get one of their choices, while someone who only picks a few top choices might not get one of those. I’m wondering if there’s an existing algorithm or formula we can apply, or if you have thoughts on the assignment-optimizing method we should use.