Technological advances at work have allowed people to work more flexibly, whether that be at the office, on the road or at home. For many workers, the solution is hot desking – the art of setting up your laptop at whichever desk happens to be free in the office, rather than having your own assigned workstation. For an office designer, this presents an exciting new range or possibilities for cutting edge layouts and desk designs, however what does it mean for hot desking staff and their employers?
One great advantage of hot desking is the opportunity to meet and work alongside people you would not normally have the chance to interact with. So members of the senior management team might find themselves working next to the office junior for the day, or people from different departments might cross paths for the first time. This allows staff to build working relationships and to understand how each team operates and the pressures they are under. It can also help break down cliques.
Hot desking removes much of the clutter associated with assigned workstations. It encourages people to leave personal effects at home and to just stick to one mug for hot drinks and one small bag to transport their laptop. Hot-desking workers must clear the desk every night, so will not leave paperwork lying around. It will help people figure out what they really need to bring in to work each day, and how much paper they actually need to print out and keep.
On the flip side, flexible working like this introduces an element of uncertainty for employers and office layout planners . There could be days when everyone works from home and so the office looks empty and feels uninspiring, and others when absolutely everyone comes in and seats quickly become scarce. A crucial part of the hot desking office planning is deciding on the amount of space required and resources likely to be used.
Another aspect of hot desking that employers must bear in mind is how it will affect their staff’s morale and health. Some people feel it removes personality and a sense of belonging, while others are concerned by how it could enable viruses and sickness bugs to travel round the office more easily. Providing top-of-the-range office and IT equipment can be one way to counteract any feelings of non-appreciation amongst staff, while training on office hygiene and provision of hand gels can help keep the germs at bay.
Another concern over removing a worker’s assigned workstation is that it takes away personal space that they can retreat to when feeling stressed about a project or needing privacy. Providing meeting rooms and quiet spaces to retreat to can help, as can having resources specifically aimed at reducing stress, such as a phone counselling service or dedicated staff therapist on hand.