More and more companies are going to hot-desking as flexible working becomes more prevalent.
I’m sure there are numerous benefits:
- allows companies to have less space for more people with the increased flexibility of working from home
- networking opportunities
- more cross team working
- more people get to sit at a window seat
But I really hate it.
Our company has hot-desking and has since I started there 2.5 years ago. It works brilliantly for people who work a lot from home, and who are happy with doing it. Yes I’m sure it’s great for networking with other people – although with increased flexibilities of working hours, that means more people compress hours. Do they really have time to chit chat and find out about what each is working on?
Previously at work, there were always general areas where people tended to always sit. This meant you could easily find them and always knew that someone sitting in that area would know vaguely about that area of work. It was also a lot more social than my experience of hot-desking where people have their heads down and don’t really chat at all other than to do a tea round.
But we’ve moved offices now and apart from a few set roles – those who need to sit together, or those with medical needs, it’s all hot desking.
My gripes are numerous – and it seems that other people in the office feel the same.
My 9 ways that hot desking is hell
1. It takes an age in the morning to set up. Before, I’d just get my laptop and little box of stationery/notepad from my locker (yes, we have lockers because it’s all hot desks) on the way to my desk. Sit down, plug in and start work. No having to re-log onto a phone, no having to locate where in the office my chair is, or my foot rest, or fan. Not forgetting that now I have to readjust the monitor up or down depending on who sat there before, and find a comfortable style of keyboard and mouse that I like. Oh yes, and to relocate all of those things, means disturbing someone else who’s already sat in the seat.
2. You can’t find the people you need to speak to, because you’ve no idea where in the office they might be sitting. Or if they’re even in the office.
3. You can’t remain in a desk that suits your temperature requirements. While we have air conditioning that works (if it’s turned on) in the new office, if you’re hot desking you always have to find a ‘cold’ or ‘hot’ desk, or sit there either sweltering or freezing depending on whether you like or hate the cold.
4. You have to find a desk. Usually a lot of people work from home, or are out and about with work, but since moving office, it seems everyone wants to work in the office. So if you don’t get in by 9.30 you could be sitting in a cupboard somewhere (maybe not quite that drastic, it might be in the kitchen).
5. You struggle to find a desk with the configuration you need, or in the location of the office you want. I’m a left hander, so I need the long bit of my desk on my left, but in our office people tend to sit straight on and therefore don’t worry about which side of the desk is long for writing, so there’s fewer left hand desks to go round. Also some people hate sitting on an aisle, others like to see the whole office and not have people jump on them from behind, and have plenty of leg room to have a foot rest. Choosing a hot desk wastes time if you’re like me.
6. You feel like billy-no-mates if you’re sitting in the middle of a group of colleagues who have managed to bagsy an area of desks together. You don’t have any need for work conversations with them, and apart from whether they have sugar and milk in their tea, there’s little other conversation going on. After sitting with the same people, plus a few random hot deskers for 2 years, I’d like to have my friends back again.
7. It’s easy to forget where you’re sitting from one day to the next. Several times I’ve tried to sit in someone else’s seat by mistake. It’s the equivalent of trying to open the wrong car door with your keys.
8. To get a regular desk you need to get in at about 7.30 in the morning. I get in at 8.30 and still struggle to find one that I like.
9. You spend a lot of time griping to every new person you sit next to after they comment on how long it takes you to find all your equipment and set up.
Maybe I’m just picky, and if I just sat at a random desk on any chair using any old thing that’d be fine. For some people it is. But people do like to have a place to call their own, especially if they’re going to be in the office pretty much 5 days a week. With the amount of time we spend it work, it’d be nice to have somewhere to call our own, and not just my locker. Every other workplace I’ve worked at where people have worked out of the office/from home a lot, have had set desks or areas, and then a bank of hot desks, and it’s worked fine.
What’s the set up at your workplace, or do you work from home? Do you like to hot desk or prefer your own desk?
Edit: Post Covid and 2 years working from home, I’m now a hybrid work. So no more fixed desks, and if we’re in the office we book. Hot desking is less of an issue because obviously I can’t guarantee which desk will be available. Now it’s a case of working out where I prefer to sit, do I want to use a riser desk (yes), do I get to sit opposite a wall (because very few in the revamped office space are near windows. At the moment I’ve not worked out which are the left hand oriented desks, so my choice is fairly limited in order to avoid the ‘wrong’ configuration for me.
There’s still the issue of having to track down a keyboard to use, readjusting chair and monitor each time, plus bringing in all the stuff I need. But hybrid working is the way forward if only for the flexibility. That means I can live with hot desking on the occasions I’m in the office.