Does your company operate a "hot desk" policy and if so does it work for you?

(34 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 11-Dec-13 14:47:19

We know some companies operate a "hot desk" policy and that this can help make flexible or home working easier - so can actually support family friendly policies - but we also know that it can also be a challenge not to know where you're sitting each day/ not to be able to sit in a team/ not to have a picture of your kids on your desk! etc.

Do you or the companies you work for have any experience of this sort of working and what tips would you give to a company starting out on this path for the first time? Some of our Family friendly members either operate this system or are thinking about it so it would be great to be able to share your feedback with them.

Many thanks

Family Friendly team

SunnyL Wed 11-Dec-13 14:58:17

I've just been told that on my return to work after maternity leave my office is going to start having a hot desk. Basically they have employed more people since I went on mat leave and have given my old desk away.

I'm in two minds about it.
Con: the only people who will actually be hot desking are the people who are part-time aka the women who have children. I'm worried it will make me feel like a second class enployee I.e. only full time staff merit a desk.

Pro: I'll get to sit with various people over time rather than being stuck with the same people day in day out. This could be quite useful in my line of work as it will allow people from different technical specialities to mix which has proven fruitful in the past when it comes to developing new ideas and approaches.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 19-Dec-13 16:59:33

thanks for the feedback - think lots of folks we've spoken to about it are also in two minds. Anyone out there making it work? Or not??

BornToFolk Thu 19-Dec-13 17:09:40

Yes mine does. We just moved office this week. In the old office it worked pretty well (for me!) Although I'm part time I'm in the office every day so I basically bagsied a desk and could put things like DS's drawings up.
However, they appear to be much stricter about the clear desk policy in the new office so I can't put anything up, or personalise my workspace in any way. Also, there are less desks so it's harder for teams to sit together. Personally, I find it quite unsettling not having a designated desk
On the plus side, it is nice to have the opportunity to sit with other people. For example, if some colleagues aren't in, you can go and sit with someone else, or you can move away from the air-conditioning or people being noisy if you need to concentrate.

I'm not sure how it is supposed to support family friendly policies? As SunnyL said, it can make part timers feel less valued if they don't have their own desks when full time people do.

bubblesausage Thu 19-Dec-13 17:17:32

Mine does too, it's a nightmare. I'm part time and agree with what was said above, I kind of feel less valued, as full timers get their own permanent desks.
I don't like not knowing where I will sit from one day to the next, have nowhere to keep my stuff, and it would be nice to be able to put up photos etc. It also means I don't really get chance to 'get to know' my colleagues, as I end up sat in a different area/amongst a different team each time. I struggle to see any positives.

ShoeWhore Thu 19-Dec-13 17:18:11

My old employer had a hot desk policy. It was a consultancy so most fee earning staff were out at clients most of the time and could use the hot desk facilities on days in the office. We each had a locker for storage and could book offices and meeting rooms when required. Support staff, who were permanently based in the office, had conventional desk arrangements.

I never knew any different so I found it fine. When I occasionally had longer spells in the office I often booked the same desk each day anyway. And I am not naturally very tidy so it was quite good from that perspective too!!

I work freelance so often don't have a set desk in the places I work in. Often find that sales companies use hotdesks for when the sales team call in the office, ie team of 20 sales bods, bank of 4or 6 desks for them to use, they book in advance.

The people who are full time have their own desk (or, the same hot desk every day), and anyone else uses a desk that is available. It usually turns out that the same ones are available on the same days, so I almost always get the same desk/phone etc.

It works well in places where there are clear desk policies, so you dont' get the temptation to put pics or personal stuff up anyway.

As a freelancer I am used to just having a bigger work bag in which I keep stuff that I might usually keep at my desk, handcream, notebook, extra pens etc. Never made me feel less valued than the full timers - the value they place on me is the money they pay me. I look on the desk as simply somewhere to sit while I do my work, nothing territorial about it for me.

WillieWagglingRoundTheXmasTree Thu 19-Dec-13 17:31:07

yes my company does, though not in my particular office location, but it has recently changed over in another of our large offices. they've changed it to 'zones', so there's a quiet zone, a socialising zone etc, and booths for teleconferences.

the response from those who previously had their own office is much more negative, as they tended to be people who had lots of telephone calls and now they have to make them in a phone booth which is not as pleasant as their own more spacious office.

the response has been positive for those who previously worked in open plan, because for them less has changed, though they miss being able to personalise their space, and it's definitely more sociable between departments. also many of those who were in the open plan areas were seated near corridors or away from windows etc, and now they have the opportunity to get a nicer seat if they arrive early enough.

the 'arriving early enough' aspect is a problem though, and does particularly disadvantage those who work flexibly and aren't able to arrive until later (e.g. 9.30 or 10.00, which is absolutely allowed, but means the best seats are taken)

WillieWagglingRoundTheXmasTree Thu 19-Dec-13 17:35:20

btw, the building i'm talking about has hotdesking for everyone - full time, part time, permanent, temp, regardless of seniority (the most senior person in that building does not have his own office any more).

also, prior to implementing this they did consult extensively about what people wanted from their work environment, which has been appreciated but of course not everyone is pleased.

the other thing that i remember has been tricky, is that some people need their own office equipment (chair, ergonomic keyboard etc), and this makes hotdesking difficult because it's harder to keep that stuff in a small locker. this would be particularly relevant in a family-friendly context to any woman who was pregnant and had had a risk assessment that indicated that they needed special equipment - the business would need to consider how she was able to make sure she had access to this every time she was in the office

Ours is a hotdesking office and I'm not keen. But then I am quite introverted and need space and quiet to think. Here's what I find difficult:
- Far fewer desks than people so on many days there is actually nowhere to sit
- You can't keep little essentials like hand cream, spare Tampax, stationery to hand in a drawer
- No photos of family or little awards trophies or anything so it feels very impersonal

Quite frankly it makes me want to work from home whenever I possibly can. But I know going to the office is valuable as face to face conversations are more productive, it's just not very pleasant.

Melfish Thu 19-Dec-13 17:47:29

We do, it's crap. As the sole part timer who doesn't start til after the others due to school pick ups, it's always me who ends up having to find a desk somewhere on the same floor (or not) as the rest of my team. I don't work a full day, so have often spent a ridiculous proportion of my day finding a seat, and trying to get the computer to start up as we have to log off our mega slow system every day. To add to it, apparently moving your 'profile', e.g. Logging off and on to different computers, makes it even slower. I probably spend about half an hour just trying to set myself up in the morning. I think if we do continue with too small a proportion of desks to people there should be a rota in place so the same poor sod doesn't have to always be excluded from sitting with colleagues. Sadly we cannot work from home either.

tallulah Thu 19-Dec-13 17:49:13

Ours has a desk booking policy, which used to work fine. Each team had their own area and a number of allocated desks in the ratio 8 desks to 10 people.

Then we started getting lots more people in and they decided you could book a desk anywhere on the floorplate. You can book up to 8 weeks in advance and we'd all been going in once a week to update our desk booking for the 8th week. Not any more.

Certain teams are trying to be awkward and booking random desks first thing in the morning for 8 weeks ahead. I do the school run so don't get in until 9.30 so was finding someone had booked my desk (for 8 weeks time) by the time I got in. Somebody who starts early is now doing it for me. We are down to 6 desks for 10 people and some days literally every desk in a huge open plan office is booked.

It has caused no end of trouble and almost fisticuffs. Much bad feeling.

AfricanExport Thu 19-Dec-13 17:53:44

I work on projects where it is helpful to be sitting with the team as a lot ofdiscussions are had on the fly. This is hard to do when hot desking as it disturbs others.The other problem is, by their nature, there are less desks than people. So if you get in late what are you meant to do? I regularly travelled to the city only to have to go home again. We could not book a desk and we couldn't work from home unless there wasn't a desk available. .. but you had to be in the office to know that.

Its not a 'family friendly' thing though is it? Its a cost saving thing for the employer. As more employees want flexible or part time working, the employers don't want to provide work stations for everyone when some of the work stations are only being used part of the time.

From the responses above it sounds like employees have to like or lump it.

chocoshopoholic Thu 19-Dec-13 17:57:09

Our office does, we have 6 desks for 20-25 of us, but our jobs mean we're out a lot on appointments. It's only really team days that we struggle for space-but its an opportunity to network.

It doesn't bother me, we each have a drawer that we can keep personal items in and communal storage for work records.

I like the clean look that the office has-no photos, random stuff that's precious for someone but looks like tat to everyone else. Having to clear each night also helps me keep on top of my most hated jobs.... filing!

Ugh. Where to start? Don't make it PT staff only. Look at actual desk usage - the areas in my organisation who run it best tend to make senior staff hotdesk more often as they spend so much time in meetings, while junior staff are more deskbound. But don't do that at the cost of managers who end up never sitting with their teams.

Think about patterns of attendance over the week - we have peak usage on a Wednesday and it can get really tight. And over the year - January is dire, everyone's in.

If you don't go for full clear desk, you can go for respectful personalisation of a desk - if it's yours 90% of the time! have a few things! but keep it clean and ensure someone else can use it. We have drawers on wheels which are useful if you're not going far, but not if you're on the other side of the building.

Think about special fit when setting up the IT - specialist keyboards and mice are easy to deal with as long as you don't have to firtle about round the back of a PC to plug them in (been there, done that, lots of stress and dusty knees, and one broken PC).

Have desks bookable, not first come first served (we do), enable mobile working (we do this a bit), and working from home (we barely do this).

All that said, I'm currently at a desk of my own, in an actual office, and I love it. Not looking forward to going back to hotdesking (technically it's desksharing, iirc) in future.

GirlWithTheDirtyShirt Thu 19-Dec-13 18:00:48

We have partial hot desks. What tends to happen is that the masses have a desk and management, part timers and people in global roles (more travel, odd working hours) don't. This means we have a hot desk area populated by the same people every day, often in the same desks and a reputation for being a management clique. It's not at all true, but a tricky one to solve as the people who make those accusations are the same ones who won't give their own desk up and move to hot desking.

lisad123everybodydancenow Thu 19-Dec-13 18:05:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bonsoir Thu 19-Dec-13 18:07:05

Hot desking can be great when you are constantly reallocated to new teams - you can move around to be near your team.

But if you are not in that sort of role and it is just a means of reducing the rent, it's not great for efficiency/productivity IMO.

Grennie Thu 19-Dec-13 18:10:20

A nightmare. Everyone seems to want access to a desk at the same time. I have known staff sit outside in their office in the car and log into the wireless internet, just so they can do their work.

There are a number of us based on 2 sites at the moment. We have hot desks at one site.
I've put the stationary etc I prefer, my mug, and the handy reference guide I refer to several times a day up.
Noone sits there now. I do spend the most amount of time there.
In fact, the three of us who are there most often have our "own" desk, and get mightily confused if someone comes in and makes us sit somewhere else.
So I'd say we are actively working towards no hot desks in a hot desk environment, hence those of us who use them more than 1/2 a week don't like them.

I hate, hate, hate it.
In all my 35 years of working I have never hated anything so much as the fact that I do not have even the smallest space to call my own in my current job.
It wouldn't happen if I wasn't part time which makes it worse angry

SugarCaneShortCake Thu 19-Dec-13 18:13:26

Before I retired,my department tried hot desking. We had lockers for our personal possessions such as keyboard, mouse etc. The idea was to save money on office space. There was a clear desk policy that most people ignored. I had my own chair (due problems with my back) and every day someone else was using it. I had to clear dirty cups and wipe down a desk before I would use it. Logging on to the system took longer because sometimes your profile wasn't recognised.

There were so many complaints, that management overturned the policy.

My experience of hot-desking is the same a ShoeWhore's - it was fine when I was only in occasionally. I now work in an office job with my own desk. We still have a clear desk policy which I like and I don't choose to put up personal photos as I can remember what my family look like for the 8 hours I am at work for.

My only criticism of some hot-desking practices is that the desks can be tiny and not have things like decent screens, keyboards etc. There is no reason that working at a hot desk should be less comfortable than having your own desk and working on a laptop with a screen that you have to look down to is quite bad for your back/neck/shoulders.

Hate it too. In my last job my replacement and I overlapped by 3 weeks, she had my old desk and I was expected to fit in where there was space. It was massively annoying and also felt demeaning.

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