Wednesday 23rd March 2022
The dos and don'ts of hot desking etiquette

One of the advantages of a flexible work model is the reduced need for office space. With fewer people on site you can potentially downsize your premises saving money on rent, energy and other associated expenses. However, it’s also likely to result in a reduction in the number of desks you have available and this brings its own challenges.

The days when everyone had their own fixed space in the office may be over for many. Instead, hot desking is the new reality where those who come into work make their base at a space that’s available rather than the one they always choose. It offers a real opportunity for employers to adapt their office space to provide a more attractive and more productive environment.

Despite the advantages, it can take some time for people to shift their mindset towards a hot desking arrangement. It can feel like their personal territory is being taken away from them and, to attract people into the office nowadays, requires making it a pleasure rather than just another destination.

Workplace solutions such as booking systems can help to reduce this anxiety, create more certainty and make work arrangements work even better than before including increased collaboration. By analyzing the data created by these solutions can also feed back into optimizing even further and creating greater capacity.

However, there is a real need for etiquette rules to avoid arguments over territory, noise, mess and storage space. When you’re putting together your set of rules around hot desking, here’s what we would suggest you include in terms of dos and don’ts.

Hot desking – the dos

The dos of hot desking etiquette

Reserve a desk in advance 

Don’t turn your office into a free-for-all fight for favorite locations. Instead, introduce a booking system so that people know in advance what desks are available when they need them and make it easy to reserve them. No-one can argue with a booking system.

Be respectful 

The office is still an office and everyone has to realize that it isn’t a room in their home. It requires respect for colleagues who will be a neighbor for the day. That means keeping headphone music to a minimum and taking noisy phone calls outside or in another space. Nobody wants to hear a colleague have an argument with their insurance provider.

Be tidy 

The pandemic has dramatically highlighted the importance of hygiene. Encourage employees to leave their desk in a better state than they found them. That means keeping it clean and wiping surfaces down when they’re finished – not assuming someone else will do the job. Employers should provide antibacterial wipes for general use. If the hot desking space has storage then dissuade people from hogging it with items such as gym gear or cycling helmets. It’s a shared space and everyone should have a clear out at the end of their working day.

Hot desking – the don’ts

The don'ts of hot desking etiquette

Make it personal

We all like to cheer up our workspaces with items such as family pictures or favorite pot plants. Tell your employees they’re welcome to bring these items into work and make their desk temporarily more personal. But they should not be left there as a permanent territorial marker.

Make it smell

In the past, closely located colleagues may have learned to tolerate each other’s food foibles. Lobster bisque soup may be a culinary favorite for some, but if the entire office smells of lunch for the rest of the day then that’s an infringement on other people. Encourage employees to choose food wisely when hot desking or head to a local restaurant for their meal.

Pass on your germs

Hot desking should not be seen as compulsory. We all know the office trouper who comes into work even when they’re full of flu. Especially right now, we can’t afford to take chances and risk passing something on to others that could be extremely serious. Make sure you have a culture where people stay at home if they feel unwell and put everyone’s health first.

Think you don’t need to book

Hot desking depends on everyone being equal. No-one is so special they don’t need to use the booking system and turn up without a reservation. Even the CEO. The technology is available to make desk booking easy so encourage everyone to use it and enjoy the certainty about where they’ll be working and when.

Block book

Encourage people to book different desks in different locations at different times. That will result in them meeting new people and being exposed to new ideas. Your business will benefit as a result.

Setting hot desking rules may be restrictive but it’s a necessity if you want your Flexible Work model to deliver results. It’s in everyone’s interest to understand what’s expected of them when they come into the office so they can get the most out of their day. It also means your office will be a place of interaction and collaboration more than ever. Money saved on desks can be used to create effective breakout spaces where creative, profitable thinking can flourish.

Start thinking about your hot desking policy and make sure everyone knows about it.

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