In today’s workforce, companies are faced with serious underutilization and high maintenance costs due to the higher number of employees working remotely. In the offices that still have the traditional system of assigned desks, the occupancy hardly goes past 50%. So, the concept of desk-sharing was born as a way to use unused space better.
What is Desk Sharing? Desk sharing is a work arrangement when one workstation is no longer assigned to only one person. A workstation is shared among two or three employees usually working in shifts or in a different pre-arranged manner. This allows each employee to have access to the workstation when needed.
However, we as humans are extremely territorial creatures, so the idea of desk sharing is not always accepted with open arms.
Adopting a desk-sharing policy can be quite tricky. First, it requires employees to be aware of why the company is implementing this policy, and it asks each employees’ cooperation. Second, it can also quickly disrupt the balance of a productive workplace, mostly because employees may feel like they don’t have a home anymore. Would they fight with each other on how and when to use the desks?
Changing trends are frequently accelerating the working world in the name of increasing productivity, cutting costs, and supporting workers and companies to establish win-win situations. The practice of sharing various services and goods, such as office accommodations, cars, bikes, etc. is on the rise. So why not share the workstation?
The idea behind this concept is the view that the desk is not always the best place for carrying out all work responsibilities during work hours. People tend to use different places for different tasks. For example, when I need to concentrate, I prefer to work on a desk, or when I need to read something I usually sit on a sofa.
Offering a variety of available tools and ample space in a company office, for instance, may cut costs, support better efficiency, and create a work culture that is communal and sharing based. Thus, there could be an organizational shift where employees are cooperative and accommodating with each other. Am atmosphere of utility and sharing could promote collaboration and equality. No longer is there the chance to insulate or be out of touch with coworkers when communication at work is so important.
The desk-sharing policy can be implemented efficiently only when employees have access to multiple facilities within the office, where it is possible to have different tasks performed. Adding additional work zones within a location, such as meeting rooms for informal conversations, or space where small teams can conduct their meetings, are just a few options that can be implemented for a better workplace.
If a company plans to implement desk sharing as part of the workforce policy, there are a few considerations to prepare for as the shift happens. Firstly, technological improvements are part of the shift, as well as analyzing the habits of employees and streamlining them into an organized and workable format. Here are the biggest considerations to make in a workplace desk sharing agenda.
When companies decide to redesign their office space, most must be aware that the rearrangement of the workplace also requires some serious technological changes and improvements. Every desk needs to be equipped with the right devices and equipment. Even though shared desks are used by the same people, they need to be easily accessible for all employees.
Speaking of the right usage of devices and equipment, the company’s management must decide whether the employees will have dedicated desktop PCs, or depending on the nature of work, equal access to laptops, tablets, smartphones, or some other gadgets.
A company might decide to invest in IoT tools, such as smart sensors. These sensors are able to monitor the energy usage and desk tenancy and automate everything starting from temperature controls to lighting. This can leave the managers to focus on planning the bigger picture.
The software might be even more important to employees than hardware. Using different apps and platforms for communicating, cloud-based solutions for storing important data, CRM platforms, online training, etc., can certainly improve productivity in the workplace, as desk sharing would allow access to these for all.
Managers can decide if remote working, as proven so far, can only increase the productivity and creativity of the staff. If the desktop PCs aren’t mobile and don’t offer any type of remote and flexible working, budgeting for a mobile accessibility option is necessary. Consequently, because of the desk sharing concept and its’ implementation, it’s no surprise why companies are offering the latest technologies to their employees.
Every employee has a different style of working. It’s very important to conduct a thorough analysis and receive detailed information regarding office occupation and utilization. This will help you in designing the space according to the employees’ needs and requirements, especially for the ones that are regular office occupants.
Designing the workplace space needs to be followed by preparing and teaching staff on how to work effectively in the new work environment. Usually, many of the employees will show some level of resistance to the new changes.
Explaining the benefits of having a desk-sharing policy will help in creating a more interactive environment. Letting the employees know what the exact reason behind the change is, and being open to their feedback, contributes to morale and inclusive working relationships between coworkers and with management. This way they will understand the reason and you can offer new routines that can replace old habits that wasted time and productivity.
Consistently, management should also learn new skills for effectively managing their team in the new work setup. For smoother transitions, sometimes hiring external consultants may help in the easier implementation of the new changes.
It’s perfectly normal for employees to have concerns regarding a whole office change. It changes the nature of their work and responsibilities. By company management actively addressing employee concerns, they can better offer constructive solutions. When staff feel heard, there is a likelihood that they will feel less threatened. Let the office manager or some other person have the authority for resolving any disputes or questions among the employees.
Setting up one-on-one meetings or through open meetings, employees will have the platform to engage in equanimous discussion. They need to feel free to discuss their situation. Collect their pros and cons, insights, and repurpose the meaning of their work at your company. Make sure to provide a platform or forum where employees can share their feedback, what they like or dislike, what needs to be improved and how it can be improved. Make the desk-sharing arrangement flexible and open for improvements. Small changes have big effects.
So, you are finally considering implementing a desk sharing space at your office. What is the work desk look? Its appeal? The time shared by each? Look to a local library for an example of structure. Measure and assess the flow and accessibility. Observe how employees feel, comment, etc. Is there a culture of courtesy being shown, or do you overhear disgruntlement?
When actually installing the space for your desk sharing environment, it is important to note the type and number of shared desks that will be needed. Factor in the number of employees, their shifts, and other factors that may affect the occupancy. Even though implementing a desk-sharing policy is to cut costs, having extra desks will ensure that employees don’t feel uncomfortable due to lack of space during peak times, for instance.
Strategic planning comes into play when laying out an office space format. Gone are the days of cubicles and insulated work sections. The communal access to computers can even make remote working better for companies and their employees, at home and in the office, also. Keeping the layout simple, have a strategy to place a manager to address concerns that are technological, sign in related, etc. Do you have a vision for a lab? Spatially structure the open surface desk panel, printer stations, Wifi and electric plugs.
If there is a possibility of making the desk sharing changes to your company, do it gradually. This could mean implementing the policy team by team. This way you can gather enough feedback on whether this arrangement works well, before applying the changes to the whole office. Also, given the effects of this change, consider that the employees will need the chance to adapt over some period of time.
For any sitting arrangement to work smoothly, it requires implementing a set of rules and guidelines on how to use the shared desks. Rules, whether we like them or not, keep everyone on the same page, following the same standards, and help in preventing any problems before they happen. As well, rules can prevent forming any bad habits and will create an organized and positive work environment.
Implementing a clear desk policy is the first step for a successful desk-sharing practice. It’s important for the employees to be aware of the baseline reset of the workplace and leave the desk at the end of their workday in the shape they found it.
Essential equipment such as a keyboard, mouse or even a phone should always be in their place. Whereas, all of the other personal things should be kept at a personal locker or some other dedicated space.
Clear desk policy also includes wiping the desk with antibacterial tissues, removing all papers, emptying the trash can, turning off devices, etc.
Colds and flu can be very common in an open office environment. Encourage the employees to work remotely from home when they’re ill, or if that is not applicable to use hand sanitizers and tissues as much as possible to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs.
Implementing a policy to clean the office more often, especially during the months when colds thrive, can help in the prevention of more people getting ill.
Every employee needs to have a personal storage locker for storing their personal stuff. Additionally, the team needs to have team storage, where members of the team can have access to important documents of mutual interest.
Having ergonomic furniture is a must for any type of workspace. It allows employees, especially in a desk- sharing set up to adapt their workstation according to their needs.
The desk-sharing policy is introduced not only to reduce costs but also to enable employees to collaborate with each other more. However, if it’s not managed properly, it can lead to poor communication, inhibit information flow, and isolate people from other team members and managers.
The line between successful desk sharing and total chaos is very thin. Before implementing it, consider the following pros and cons.
Many times, the terms “hot-desking” and “hoteling” are considered the same thing. Even though they both are used for unassigned workplaces, they are different.
Hot-desking is a work arrangement where employees don’t have assigned seating. Employees take the desks that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hoteling is a work arrangement where employees need to schedule upfront the use of a workstation, meeting room, or cubicle. Hoteling is the closest approach to the traditional assigned seating.
By 2014, open floor design became a norm, especially for tech companies and startups.
Open offices were designed with the sole purpose of encouraging better and spontaneous collaboration, creativity, and innovation among the employees.
However, according to recent studies, open floor workplaces have also been reported to have just the opposite effect. Face-to-face interaction has been reduced and messaging has increased. Employees think that there are too many distractions and so little privacy. These studies show that people working in open workplaces take a lot more sick-leave, have more stress and are more unhappy than the ones with more privacy.
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