Hot desk, not desk

February 15, 2013

I’ve written before about hot desking,(https://sarahspoutsoff.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/hot-desking/ ) but it’s getting ridiculous in some places now. I don’t know anyone personally who actively likes it. This fashion for not having an allocated workspace but simply a first come first served system where there aren’t actually enough desks to go round. It becomes a bit like musical chairs, only people save their seats when they get up to dance for the music. Any benefits there are appear financial and all in the employer’s favour as far as I can see – there are no plus points whatsover to those who have to operate it. Some tolerate it, but I don’t know anyone who prefers it to having their own desk.
Companies might like it because people get in earlier to try to ensure a desk and the office floor space required is less as they seem to operate on an assumption of 80% occupancy. But somehow, because I am not an early bird, I rarely find a seat in the ‘team’ I am supposed to be consulting to.
The allocated spaces are often minute. Just enough for a lap top and screen. No spreading out of hard copy to easily compare across documents whilst writing another and no personalisation of desk space. You could be anyone, anywhere. Just a number. It feels like a nightmare scifi novel.
Unable to find a space in my team or a related one, I end up in finance or HR or another floor of the building altogether. Hardly conducive to team building or exchange of ideas.


Hot desking

October 23, 2012

Some of the companies I consult to have introduced hot desking. I don’t just mean they have a few spare desks where visitors or field-based personnel can park when in the office, but the system where no-one has an allocated desk. At all.

Plus not only does one not have a desk to call one’s own, but there are not enough desks to go round if everyone in the team happens to be in on the same day. Personally I hate it.

I like having a space to call my own, leave my books and files and papers on it. Usually looks a mess, but I know where things are.

People say ‘Tidy desk, tidy mind’.

I say “Empty desk empty mind”.

Ideal for me is an office where I can close or open the door. That old fashioned way of saying ‘Do not disturb’, or ‘Welcome’.  But even an allocated desk in an open space allows for collecting important information in one place, ready to turn to at a moment’s notice. Not to mention personalisation – not something I do but others like their family pictures around them. And I have that luxury in my own office. But places I consult to frequently, it would be nice to know roughtly where I am meant to sit.

Then there’s knowing where to find someone. Without an allocated desk, you have to contact them first to find out where they are. Or wander over to the area you think they sit in and hope you can find them. Made impossible if you don’t know what they even look like as there are no names on desks any more. I always liked those name tags to help me remember who was who. No cheating now.

Hot desking is meant to engender cross functioonal collaboration, infomal talking, sitting next to colleagues one doesn’t routinely meet. But of course it doesn’t because lots of people don’t use it properly. And there are various forms of abuse I’ve noticed;

Top Ten Anti – Hot Desking Behaviours

  1. Always sit in exactly the same position so people get to realise this is ‘your’ desk
  2. Even if you are not in early, make sure your colleagues  know it is ‘your’ desk and politely suggest others don’t sit there, This is usually achieved with phrases like “I wouldn’t if I were you.” or “She always sits there”
  3. Get a special chair that only you can use and musn’t be adjusted for anyone else and put it in position at your favoured desk.
  4. Make the small meeting rooms your office by planting yourself in there for whole days or weeks at a time.which means that no one can find meeting rooms because they are filled with people making personal calls or internet shopping.
  5. Hide in different teams so that no one is able to find you
  6. Come in early, bag a desk space then bugger off to an all day meeting making sure you leave enough belongings around the desk space so no one can use it
  7. If on a communal table vibrate leg repeatedly so that the entire table vibrates with your incessant nervous twitch
  8. Spread all your papers across my bit of the desk without even asking.
  9. Don’t bother to report a broken phone or screen as you can sit somewhere else tomorrow
  10. Leave all your stuff all over the desk when you leave in the evening, marking your territory like cat spray.

I preferred the old way. I could walk in and immediately see if someone was in or not. Now it can take me ages wandering round the whole building looking for them if I don’t have their phone or they haven’t logged in to the internal office communicator system. But don’t get me started on that –  how people sign in and then manually change it to ‘busy’ or ‘away’ the whole bloody time……..another of my bugbears….. 🙂

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