Christian Logue, MD of Sagal Group, reflects on space usage in the current climate.
It’s understandable really.
After long periods during the pandemic where they’d been treading water, the desire of employers to streamline and get the most from their workforce and assets is a strong one. For too long expensive offices sat empty as employees worked from home. For many businesses an office began to feel like a costly dead weight rather than a vital centre of productivity. In this context, as we emerge from the pandemic and embrace hybrid working, employers may be considering a move towards hot-desking. For clarity, hot-desking is a workplace system in which desks are used by different people at different times, on an ad hoc basis. Turn up, find a space, claim it and use it.
The desire for employers to follow the hot-desking path is understandable, it seems a good way to get the most from an office. It’s understandable, but unwise.
At this point in time, more than at any other, employers need their employees to fall in love with being in the office again – #lovewhereyouwork. The real importance of things that aren’t practical when your workforce is dispersed (mentoring, onboarding, innovation, brainstorming, team building) has become clear.
But, for successful face-to-face interactions to take place, employees need to be drawn back to the workspace. Offices must be destinations people want to inhabit, where they feel included, wanted and valued. Your office needs to be a superior place for the activities of your teams.
The problem is, hot-desking is haphazard – it relies too much on the luck of the draw. For your office to work you need to be able to guarantee your teams can sit together, use the AV suite between 10 and 11am, access the reading room for quiet thinking in the early afternoon and meet in the boardroom at 3pm for that monthly targets meeting. The uncertainty created by hot-desking won’t allow for these specific requirements. It can be of no surprise that, in a recent poll on Linked in, 75% of almost 3500 respondents replied ‘No’ to the question: ‘Do you enjoy hot-desking at work’. Hot-desking does the exact opposite of giving employees that ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling. Many see it as a stress that they can avoid by staying at home.
In the hybrid working world, where the majority of workers become TW*Ts (office-based on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays), turning your office into a destination can be incredibly difficult to achieve. It reminds me of Goldilocks and her porridge. Sometimes the office is too quiet. Sometimes the office is too busy. It takes a lot of hard work to get it ‘Just right’.
That’s why, instead of hot-desking, now would be a great time to introduce a desk and space booking system, but only if you do it intelligently. My advice is to focus your efforts on turning your office into somewhere that your teams love to travel to; an environment that’s worth the commute. Create the best possible version of what you’ve got, with room for all, all the time. Once you’ve done all that, and you understand how your hybrid teams work, introduce an easy-to-use, intelligent, space booking system.
- Turn your office into a destination.
- Analyse your staff’s hybrid habits and requirements.
- Consider introducing a room and desk booking system.
Oh, and bin your ideas about a hot-desking free-for-all. Trust me, it never works.
Christian Logue, MD Sagal Group.
Your office should serve as the centre of your business. It should ooze everything that defines you, your dreams, your mission, and your culture.
Love Where You Work