Many businesses that adopt a hybrid work model have some form of ‘hot desking’ arrangement in place. Creating a dedicated space that can be booked by everyone is often an effective solution to capacity issues when the numbers working on-site can vary markedly every day. With the adoption of easy booking apps, hot desking can also offer employees greater certainty, knowing that a desk is available to them when visiting the office. That means there’s no need to get up at the crack of dawn to mark out territory.
With hot desking comes the issue of hygiene. By that we don’t mean personal hygiene but the state of a desk that will be used by various people throughout the week. COVID may no longer be the critical issue it once was, but our awareness of the need for clean, healthy offices has not diminished.
If you want to create an office space that employees look forward to visiting then you need to allay their fears and also provide them with an experience that doesn’t require them to clean up the mess left behind by the desk’s previous user. They should be confident and certain that their interests and health are being considered.
In short, a clean desk is essential both before and after it is used by another colleague. What should you be thinking about to make that happen and what other measures should you consider to ensure your hot desking arrangements are safe and actually encourage people to visit the office?
Tips for hot desking hygiene
- Socially distance hot desks
Distance offers both safety and a sense of security. Try to keep desks at least six feet apart – it’s still close enough to encourage collaboration but reduces the risk of germs being passed along. This may require new floor plans and some strategic thinking about how to position your desks. You may also want to put a limit on overall capacity in your hot desking space. Sometimes colleagues may want to share a desk and others can wander in and out of the area, creating a working environment that may be too crowded for some.
- Stagger shifts and schedules
In fact, crowding can be reduced if you are flexible about when people can use your hot desks so encourage them to book at different times. Good desk scheduling software will allow you to limit the use of your hot desk area throughout the day. That’s a plus for hygiene and a natural extension of a flexible work policy where 9-5 is the old way of thinking.
- Allow time for cleaning
Make a space between desk changeovers for a thorough cleaning to take place. Allow sufficient time for a robust cleaning protocol, ideally with a system for hot desk disinfection. It may take less than half an hour or you may want to add a little more time to take into account any unforeseen complications, but make sure that the gap between bookings is there.
- Make it simple to be hygienic
Give colleagues the tools they need to clean their own desks and, for example, sanitize their hands. Personal hygiene stations should be made available on desks and around wider spaces. Is there disinfectant for everyone to use? Many are still keen to wear masks and there should be supply available if required if people forget to bring them to the office.
- Additional COVID policies?
If you want to be comprehensive in addressing hygiene you could also introduce extra elements such as screens between desks, contact tracing or policies around signing in and out of your office. Get feedback from employees and assess the desire for risk reduction. As people get used to working from the office again the need for the strictest measures may diminish.
It’s not just one room
It’s important to remember that hygiene issues around hot desking don’t just apply to the area where the physical desks are based. Many people who are hot desking will need to use other parts of your office such as kitchens, shared meeting spaces, printers and photocopier rooms, entrances, exits and restrooms. Your hygiene policies should also cover these additional areas.
Keep it clean
Hygiene in the office has always been an issue. However, in these cautious times it is a subject that every employer who wants to implement effective flexible working has to understand and manage. Keep it clean and make everyone keen to visit your workplace.