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Debunking the horrors of hot desking

Bintang Bagaskara

Randomly creative kind of content writer

Jakarta  /  Wed, July 24, 2019  /  04:07 pm
Debunking the horrors of hot desking

Cubicles and assigned desks are now a thing of the past, and hot desking is all the rage nowadays. (Shutterstock.com/fizkes)

Lately the internet has gone mad with its hatred toward one of the currently most popular ways of flexible working: hot desking.

This hostility has not come out of the blue. There has been an influx of articles recently going into detail about why hot desking won’t work for many companies.

However, with simple logic and some adjusting, hot desking could not only save costs for companies, it could also increase productivity and employee satisfaction.

What is hot desking, again?

If you find yourself in a communal area with several other professionals working separately (or maybe together), preferably with a wide variety of seating options, you probably already know what hot desking is all about.

Cubicles and assigned desks are now a thing of the past, and hot desking is all the rage nowadays. Many companies have opened up their traditional office spaces by establishing an open plan layout for their employees. It is said that with this plan, productivity and creativity have never been higher, and the bond between workers has never been stronger.

However, some have argued that it destroys productivity by creating an uncontrollable environment where employees cannot focus or sit with the people they need to work with. But these negative associations with hot desking can easily be solved, so let’s go into more detail below.

No personalization at work

According to research in 2014, an open plan workplace is actually a bad idea, since it lowers personalization at work for the employees. In short, the plant and family portrait that your accountant puts on her desk is a small getaway from the stress of work. This means that hot desking, which is exactly what working in an open plan office is all about, can be deemed damaging to their overall productivity.

Furthermore, with hot desking there is limited to no customization for the desk or any workspace, since the premise is for the workers to be able to move around. However, not all hope is lost for this work trend.

More recent research actually supports hot desking’s principles. For starters, the so-called ‘personalization’ can lead to cluttering and disorganization of work stations, thus lowering overall productivity which leads to loss in profit. Another study that surveyed 290 office workers also mentioned that emotional exhaustion and indecision rise with unimportant physical litter surrounding their workspace.

Hot desking, then, can help with this issue, putting an end to clutter, since working in this style requires the person to be efficient and mobile.

Noise pollution and traffic

Another issue with hot desking is the amount of people that are working together.

Oftentimes, coworking operators house many start-ups and small enterprises, cramming them together in one open area. In other cases, one big company’s communal area is used by all of the team members from sales to IT. With this, the volume of noise and traffic from the crowd can create distractions that pull focus from work, as confirmed by a study.

In fact, several studies such as one from Harvard disclose that open plan offices actually reduce communication by 70 percent, bringing less collaboration within the company. Without proper control, the workplace can fall into disarray.

Read also: How to be more productive at work

However, with control, a busy workspace has actually been proven to make employees significantly healthier, with one study reporting that 231 people given stress and activity monitors resulted in being more active when the office was more open. One article also reports that the Harvard study simply used an office that was far too open.

Furthermore, it can be logically concluded that hot desking makes communication with other parties a lot easier, creating more informal communication that can nurture fondness and bonds. Yes, the noise might be a bit much to handle. But that is what an understanding of others and headphones are made for.

Increasing anxiety levels

The last point is a combination of the previous two. With hot desking, several articles report an increase in employee anxiety levels related to setting up shop every time they have to work. The unnecessary hassle of finding a place to sit and all the disturbance that comes with it have not been considered helpful. 

With all that has been said, it is true that this problem can and has occurred in several companies. This is why I can honestly own up and say that hot desking is not for everyone. Just like everybody’s preferences differ from one to another, not every company’s productivity can be improved with this work environment.

That is why consulting with a professional about your needs is now more important than ever. With the right guidance, your company can have a productive work environment with minimal to no problems associated with stress and anxiety, because your workplace will now suit your needs. (kes)

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Bintang is the content writer for FlySpaces in Indonesia. His interests include visiting new restaurants, writing engaging content and experiencing everything he never tried before. Go to flyspaces.com/blog to read more of his content or find him at @_karabagas and linkedin.com/in/bintang95/.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.