9 August 2018

Hot desking. Is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

The modern office has changed beyond belief. Companies are looking for more agile and engaging ways of working and hot desking is now a big trend. But does it really work?

The days of individual offices and cubicles are long gone. In their place we have open spaces, fewer doors and walls, and more areas for collaborative working. For some, this has meant the introduction of hot desks, where employees no longer have a space that’s ‘theirs’ but a laptop and a new spot to work each day.

The upsides of hot desking

More open spaces and hot desking could help to break down the boundaries of ‘us’ and ‘them’ that can exist between managers and workers. There’s also anecdotal reports that it can break down  ‘silo’ mentalities, although as yet there isn’t any real evidence this leads to measurable improvements in creativity and productivity.

Really the benefits of hot desking lie in the bottom line results. It can cut the costs of running an office by up to 30%.

The downsides of hot desking

While hot desking was designed to encourage collaboration and break down workplace silos, many have found the reality to be counterproductive. Face-to-face interaction has decreased by up to 70%, while electronic communication has increased comparatively.

When we first read this it was hard to fathom. But then it clicked. After all, how often have you emailed someone sat in the same room as you? Or even sat next to you? A few times at least we’d bet. Another study discovered that workers are 66% less productive in open-plan offices due to all the distractions.

Elsewhere, it’s been found that hot desking can increase levels of stress for workers who feel undervalued by not having something that’s ‘theirs’.

So, what’s the point then?

Every company is different and every person is different. So although the stats say one thing, that doesn’t mean that hot desking doesn’t and can’t work for you. For companies where agility is built into their DNA, it could be a natural fit.

Co-working is a similar trend, with freelancers and startups working in shared spaces, enabling networking opportunities, inspiration, and motivation. It’s proving hugely popular with co-working spaces appearing around the globe and some companies shunning office space altogther and opting for a fully distributed workforce.

Whether your company decides to hot desk or not (or embrace any other flexible ways of working) the most important thing is to communicate. Communicate why you’re making changes to your employees, and run a trial first. After all, there’s no point saving 30% on office costs if your employees are less productive in the long run.

Forget hot desking for a minute. How do you create the perfect work environment?

Creating the perfect working environment isn’t easy. But it’s well worth the effort and investment. We love this Salient Method which really does make you think about all of the aspects that go into making a productive space to work.

  • Sound – avoid unpredictable and attention seeking sounds
  • Air – draw in air from the outside
  • Light – mimic daylight
  • Image – familiar and unambiguous
  • Ergonomics – furniture adapted for people
  • Nature – plants and natural focusses
  • Tint – Our behaviour is affected by the presence of different colours

With the office environment playing a huge part in productivity and workers’ well being, investing in creating the right one is important. Want to know more? Then speak to Chloe!

Chloe is our in-house environmental psychologist. Whilst at the London School of Economics, she researched and consulted on how the design of our office spaces affect our health, wellbeing and productivity.

Some research shows that 1/3 of office workers are dissatisfied with their work environment which can lead to poor health and serious disengagement. Therefore, we need an evidence based approach to design workplaces that keep our colleagues happy. For further information and possible ‘internal space audit’ give her a shout – chloe@mccannsynergy.com.uk



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