Hot-desking is revolutionising modern working, and there are many clear benefits to organisations moving to what is termed an Activity-Based-Working (ABW) environment.
Understanding and managing the costs of an allocated desk for a specific staff member - including reducing any wastage in usage arising from when employees may be spending much of their time out of the office- is ensuring that these organisations are using resources as efficiently as possible. Hot-desking works for them - it frees up valuable space and provides flexibility for staff. Today it's all about being global and being agile, working in collaborative teams, as part of remote project groups, managing flexible working etc. The work environment is constantly changing and in many cases that is great. However, not everyone is a fan, and that includes the staff themselves !
There are many studies on the benefits to organisations of hot-desking as well as the short and long term impact on staff. In fact, a recent survey of 400 multinational corporations found that two-thirds plan to implement shared-desk work spaces by 2020. Various studies however also show that these arrangements have a range of outcomes for the employees, many of which are negative. One recent Australian* study of 1000 employees suggested there were a number of issues - from increased distrust, distractions, uncooperative behaviors and negative relationships to reduced perception of support from supervisors.
We have to accept that we do live in a fast changing world and that the traditional work space has undergone a huge transformation over the last few years - some of which employees may see as good, others as bad.
Viewing it from both perspectives, cost and practicality, one has to agree - it makes sense! The trend is for employees to be out of the office. As corporations tighten their proverbial belts, they do look at every opportunity to be cost effective and efficient, and clearly, investing in unused desk space is a critical factor to consider. As a result, providing individually allocated desks appears both costly and wasteful, particularly when remote working and flexibility are on the rise.
Do you remember executives in old movies? They knew they had made it when they had their own large office, preferably with an amazing view, a large desk and big leather sofa! I guess top executives still have that benefit, however any employee aspiring to having their own office today would be very unusual indeed!
On the assumption that the hot-desk is here to stay, how can responsible employers make their work environment a better experience that takes into consideration employees' health and well being?
One thing that many employees like to do because it gives them a sense of space "ownership" is to personalise their desk space, especially when using a hot-desk. There are many desk elements that can be personalised, from stationery to accessories that are required on top of laptops and other desk equipment. And on the same subject of mobility, how can an organisation help to keep staff healthy and not pick up viruses and bugs from the hot-desks?
Let's start with bugs! Providing staff with a smart and handy hot-desk healthy kit could help keep your teams fit and make them feel at home whilst on the move! These kits could include
- Hand Sanitisers
- Desk wipes/screen wipes
- On-the-move coffee mug
- On-the-move refillable water bottle
- Mobile small stationery kit (stapler, pens and pencils)
- Mobile phone holder and charger with photo frame
- Multi charger and / or wireless charger
- Well designed backpacks to keep laptops safe and everything in one place
Of course, it is all about maximising the benefits of a hot-desk for both employers and employees. However, it is also important to ensure that employees feel part of your business plans, stay healthy and feel at home, even when hot-desking!
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* Source: The Conversation - Libby Sander, Lecturer, Bond Business School, Bond University.