Hotdesking, sometimes known as location independent working, is a relatively new practice in the workplace. In this system workers do not have their own desks but choose a different space to work in each day.

Hotdesking relies on advanced office systems, with the most flexible technology needed to route telephone calls and retrieve working files. It is not a cheap system to implement. If you want your staff to use electronic notebooks and mobiles, this will obviously be expensive. Excellent office management is also required to ensure resources are allocated fairly and according to need.

The benefits of hotdesking

Hotdesking works best with a company where a lot of staff are out of the office most of the time – sales, for example. In this case, staff have no real need for a permanent space, and thus overheads and ongoing management costs can be reduced through this office system.

However there is the issue of territory – hotdeskers may be irritated that they have no personal space in their working environment. In struggling to find information on the network or when setting up their phone every time they enter the office, they may feel rootless. At worst, this dissatisfaction may lead to a perceived loss of status and a feeling of being undervalued. If you think this would be likely with your staff, remember the cost of employee discontent is higher than your financial saving.

Some tips to bear in mind if you are thinking of implementing a hotdesking system:

  • Never implement the system without full consultation of staff. You are asking them to change their working style and it may affect their productivity
  • The system should be designed with input from the users; listen to the views of those who will have to live with the system every day
  • Comprehensive staff training is essential if the arrangement is to work smoothly; rules will need to be adhered to concerning office housekeeping, including telephone and message handling

Organise your office layout

Your new layout may require more meeting rooms. Devise more informal meeting points for staff as well. Provide sofas, comfy corners and meeting points; this will help to provide a maximum of communication facilities for your staff. Files and personal belongings can be kept in lockers.

Each non-territorial desk will need to be easy to use. All power and data points should be visible. You’ll also need to provide basic information about how to use the telephone and get network support. A stationery supply would be useful.