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Hot Desking Workplaces: Interior Design Considerations

The concept of hot desking has received something of a mixed press in recent years but the fact that some companies have managed to save 30% on their operating costs by employing this controversial workplace policy has done much to keep it in vogue. While it is definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution for all types of workspaces and requires careful planning before its adoption, by working in partnership with a team of experienced office interior specialists it is possible to implement hot desking successfully in a number of commercial environments.

How to Make Hot Desking Work for Your Firm

Before you ask your employees to pack up their personal belongings and get used to a life of not knowing where they will be sitting when they arrive for work each morning, below are a few points you might like to consider. By addressing each one carefully, your hot desking experiment will stand a much better chance of becoming a permanent feature in your office.

Major Design Considerations

First, we are going to look at some of the main design considerations you will need to address before implementing a hot desking policy. It will probably be necessary to refurbish your office interior to achieve all of the goals in the following list.

  • Partitioning – You don’t need to erect full-height partitions if you prefer a more open plan workspace but it would be useful to use half-height, solid or glass partitions to divide your offices into various sections. Hot desking works best when implemented at a departmental level: by clearly delineating the space where each department resides, you will make it much easier for people to know where they are headed when they arrive for work each day.
  • Personal Storage Space – If hot desking is going to work in your offices, you will have to introduce a rule stipulating that no personal belongings are to be kept in or on desks. Your employees are of course still going to want to bring personal items to work and by providing them with lockers in which to store them, you can make your new rule more palatable to all.
  • Breakout Areas – Employees who are used to convening ad hoc meetings at their desks may find that hot desking makes this practice somewhat more difficult. However, by including a number of breakout areas in your new office interior design, you can ensure that all such employees have somewhere comfortable to sit and discuss work matters with their colleagues whenever the need arises.
  • Visually Appealing Workstations – To compensate for the fact that employees will no longer be able to decorate their desks with family photos and other personal items, it is a good idea to spend some time thinking about how the visual appearance of the workstations in your offices can be improved. The more pleasant the environment you are able to create for your workers, the more likely it is that they will accept the new policy and help to make it a success.
  • Private Spaces – One problem that many companies encounter when introducing a hot desking policy in the workplace for the first time is a reluctance on the part of senior managers to become part of the experiment. A need for privacy in order to conduct employee appraisals and other confidential matters is often cited as a reason why senior personnel should be allocated a full-time desk rather than joining in the experiment with their more junior work colleagues. By including a number of small private spaces in your new office layout, you can alleviate this concern and ensure that all employees are able to participate fully in the new scheme.
  • Casual Workstations – For those times when everybody seems to be in the office at once, the provision of casual tables and workbenches, with conveniently located power sockets and ICT connections, will ensure that nobody is left wandering around looking for somewhere to squat.

New Company Policies for Employees and Equipment

Having addressed the design considerations mentioned above, you will also need to think about the new company polices that need to be introduced to facilitate a more mobile workforce.

  • No Personal Belongings on Desks – As mentioned earlier, desks cluttered with family photographs and other personal items are not going to fit in with a hot desking policy so they need to go. This rule may meet with some initial resistance, especially from members of staff that have been with your company for many years and are used to the way things are, but it is essential if you want your shared desk policy to work.
  • Replacement of Desktop Computers with Laptops – This is not essential as each employee could have a login on every computer in your office but it is much simpler if they are simply issued with a laptop that they can take to whichever desk they happen to be using on any given day. If each desk is equipped with a quality docking station and monitor, the fact they are using laptops instead of desktop PCs will make very little difference.
  • Flexible Working Hours – A desk sharing policy will be much more effective if members of staff are allowed to work flexible hours. The fact that less people will be in the office at the same times will enable you to work with less desks than would otherwise be possible.
  • Working from Home – In conjunction with flexible working hours, allowing employees to work from home some of the time will free up more space in your office and increase the chances of your desk share experiment being an unqualified success. With the widespread availability of fast home Internet connections and inexpensive AV conferencing equipment, this change should not have a negative effect on productivity.

Hot desking is not the final solution that some companies may have hoped it would be but when implemented with care, it can pay real dividends in the form of lower operating costs and a more dynamic workspace for employees.


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