Hot-desking - the flexible office alternative

March 2016

When we looked at this more closely we realised that many of our client-facing professionals spent much of their time away from the office; this presented us with an alternative solution: hot-desking.

What is hot-desking?

Hot-desking, more familiar in the US as hoteling, is a work environment where staff do not have their own desk or workspace. Instead, when staff come into the office they use one of several shared workspaces. As well as individual workspaces, there will often be casual seating areas and conference facilities.

Factors you need to consider

The main attraction of hot-desking is it maximises efficient use of your office space. Experts agree this can save up to 30% of floor space. Hot-desking also creates an environment that encourages more staff collaboration. For hot-desking to work smoothly you will need the technology and IT infrastructure necessary to enable flexible and mobile working.

When introducing hot-desking there is one obstacle you may need to overcome: people's resistance to change and liking for their own personal space. When we introduced hot-desking we encountered some resistance and a sense that some staff felt deprived of a certain home-from-home feeling as they could no longer personalise their space with photos and other belongings.

Striking the right balance is a challenge and changing working habits doesn't happen overnight. You will need to manage carefully those people who try to undermine the change by reverting to old habits and attempting to re-establish geographical boundaries.

Steps you can take to ease the transition

We tried these steps when we successfully introduced hot-desking. They may work for you too.

Enforce a clear-desk policy

Ensure people clear the desk before they leave the office. Give everyone a locker to store their things as this will help to encourage a clear desk. You should also insist on a policy of returning documents and files to a designated storage area where all staff can gain access to them.

Create a comfortable and ergonomic work environment

Equip all your workstations in the same way to avoid any preference for one space over another. Add plants and pictures to make staff feel at ease and counter any desire to personalise the space.

Also consider providing a comfortable relaxation area with sofas and a television where staff can unwind without disturbing others.

Creating a comfortable and ergonomic environment aids productivity too while ensuring health and safety.

Make the most of technology

Being able to connect to secure Wi-Fi will help prevent staff tending towards a particular space for technological reasons. This also maximises the flexibility of your space. Staff also need to be reachable by phone regardless of where they sit.

Cater for teams

Provide dedicated small offices where project teams can meet to collaborate. Conference spaces and dedicated areas for very specific work, such as research, are also worth considering. Make these facilities available only when pre-booked.

In summary

The way we work is changing. Technology has made remote working possible and not all staff need to be in the office all the time. Hot-desking can offer a solution to your office-space needs provided you use the right technology and have a strategy to deal with cultural and health concerns.

With plenty of forethought, proper planning, and the right communication, hot-desking might be the way forward.

Author: Bader Al Abduljader

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