Hot desking – find an empty desk and create your workspace for the day!

Hot desking lends itself well to flexible working practice. If your entire workforce isn’t in the office everyday then less office space is needed. As an employer it will not only save you space, it will save you money too. Flexible working gives employees a choice in creating a work life balance and prioritising wellbeing and overall effectiveness, impacting on employee engagement.

This versatile way of working offers a realm of further positives. Mixing up of staff allows for different teams and departments to mingle – perhaps conversations to be had which wouldn’t normally take place. There is certainly no chance of clutter accumulating in the office environment!

Like all good ideas they don’t come without their challenges. The University of Wolverhampton conducted a study and found that the competition for space lead to employees feeling less valued and low in morale. It also highlighted how the loss of control over their environment made it harder for them to deal with stress.

The hot desking concept has all good intentions but can create feelings of isolation for staff too. Plummeting levels of self-esteem could be attributed to the sense of lack of belonging to a group. Henry Tajfel, a British social psychologist, introduced the social identity theory which portrays why people may feel this way. He proposed that people attach their sense of belonging in the social world, by the groups they see themselves as part of.

Hot desking seems to present an anomaly when it comes to staff wellbeing. Having ticked the “flexibility” and “choice” boxes to enhance wellbeing it is important not to overlook the need for connection with others. As humans we are social beings and establishing relationships contributes to our sense of belonging and self-worth.

For the Hot Desk concept to be successful there are some simple measures to consider:

On-boarding process: Minor details like a buddy system for new staff members can help in the settling in process. When you don’t have the same daily desk it is difficult to start from scratch everyday in building rapport with those around you. Offering the option of a welcoming team member can help avoid feelings of isolation.

Personalise: With the lack of ability to make your space your own with personal items consider personalising your monitor wallpaper with pictures of family or friends.

Noise: Create a space for staff to share a private conversation. If general office noise is an inhibitor and impacts on productivity then headphones may help in keeping focused.

Technology: There is value to be found in technology that works effectively for the flexible workers at home and for those in the hot desk scenario. Making webcams available through your messaging system is key in establishing appropriate levels of connection.

Communication: Schedule regular face to face team meetings. Sharing information, learning from each other and connecting all contributes to morale and effective communication.

Social: Maintain social connectedness and team building by having a monthly get-together outside of work. Something as simple as a yoga class perhaps?

Ergonomics: Invest in easily adaptable chairs and work stations – especially for staff having to adapt to a new workstation every day. Encourage your staff to assess their workstation at the beginning of the day.

If developing your Wellbeing Strategy is something you would like to consider, we would love to chat and share some ideas.

Be Well,

Leigh McKay