The office concept of hot-desking has been around since the 1980s. That means having fewer desks than there are employees in the office. Studies show that, depending on the company type, 20 to 40% of workspaces are empty on any given day, as employees are visiting customers, in meetings or sick. With this in mind, the auditing company Deloitte only provided 1,000 desks for 2,500 employees at their Amsterdam headquarters, opened in 2014.
Thus, the employees find themselves a free space in the open-plan office each day. Every evening, they leave the desk empty and clean and store computers and notes in lockers. Larger companies divide the spaces into team zones so that colleagues can work together within sight and calling distance of each other. This approach considerably reduces the second-highest cost factor for companies: leasing office space.
Hot-desking brings movement into companies
With new, flexible forms of work such as ‘New Work’ and ‘Mobile Work’, hot-desking and desk sharing are becoming more and more popular. These approaches have long-since developed and have now become an instrument of communication, because the new organisation of workspaces also benefits internal communication. The open-plan office is designed to promote discussion within teams and between colleagues in different departments, as well as between superiors and their employees.
According to a Deloitte study (The workplace of the future, 2016), two thirds of all large companies want to introduce flexible workspaces by 2020. With hot-desking and desk sharing, they want to break up hierarchies and rigid structures, encourage interaction and use office space smartly in the process. They hope that this will make the digital transformation of their company more creative and innovative.
Desk sharing doesn’t always help
However, recent studies show that hot-desking and desk sharing don’t only bring benefits. If there are only seven desks available for ten members of staff, it can cause frustration and stress. Perhaps because the spaces by the windows are already occupied if you don’t arrive early enough. Or because of uncertainty as to whether a space will be available at all.
Studies have also reported that employees identify less with their employer. They miss having their own fixed space to design. And not everyone can concentrate on their work in an open-plan office with conversations going on at neighbouring desks and permanent approachability. If the boss is sitting within sight, some employees feel they are under constant observation. Others don’t feel any need to stand up, go elsewhere or to work in the lounge now and then.
- Activity-based working
- Collision zones
- Creative spaces
- Quiet spaces
- Flexible working hours and mobile work (remote work, flexitime)
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And it pays off: hot-desking
Hot-desking has long-since become part of large and small companies. But it’s not just about dismantling the desks. If you want to reorganise your office, you should also change your work culture with hot-desking. That needs the right technological prerequisites: hardware, software, network, database, cloud – a major task for IT.
Ultimately, these investments help the employees: improving their satisfaction, productivity and creativity. Since interaction between them is essential for company success, it’s worth checking how many coincidental meetings a day there are between employees in completely different areas of the company. Only a few? Then maybe you should make some changes.