For months, you’ve put off the idea of implementing hot desking in your office. You have your concerns that your employees might have a hard time with the adjustment. Still, you’d rather do it now than never. How should you roll out your hot desking plan to the workplace?
To introduce hot desking among your staff, make sure you do the following:
1. Create a timeline but understand that delays happen
2. Have a rock-solid company policy
3. Plan your office layout for the most efficiency, savings, and productivity
4. Begin scheduling employees
5. Ask for feedback along the way
6. Be willing to implement changes if they work for your long-term vision
7. Consider a hot desking trial period before diving right in
In this article, we’ll cover the above steps in more detail. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to begin a hot desking arrangement in your workplace for the year ahead!
Hot desking is about simplification, that’s true. You have fewer employees in the office at any one time, which means less equipment is being used. That said, it’s not just about emptying a few rooms and calling it good.
You have a lot you must do before you can begin your hot desking experiment in earnest. These include the steps we covered above, such as updating the company policy, changing the office layout, and scheduling employees in a new way. You might need different equipment to maximize the efficiency of a hot desking arrangement as well.
You can’t forget the feedback from your employees, as this will become very valuable in the weeks and months ahead. We’ll talk about feedback more later, but it’s a crucial part of the process.
The above all takes time. Yes, you’ll strip back your office through hot desking, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You need to have a plan for how long it will take to accomplish the changes hot desking brings. Most importantly, the plan has to be realistic.
For example, you cannot expect to set up a hot desking arrangement in an office of 30 people within a week. It’s just not going to happen. How long exactly it will take for you to be ready will depend on your own office, how many employees you have, and how used they are to your current arrangement.
Whether you think it will take one month or three to be ready for hot desking, take at least an additional month and tack that on to your estimate. Now you’re covering for the inevitable delays that will occur without being tripped up by them.
One part of your hot desking plan that should consume a good amount of your time is working on the company policy. This will likely need to change from the inside out. Sure, you might leave company dress code and vacation times alone, but everything from scheduling to etiquette needs to be updated.
We recommend you don’t do this on your own, but rather, have a team of trusted advisors work with you on the new company policy. This way, you can ensure you’re being fair as to all members of your staff as possible. You might even consult the services of an employment lawyer, a legal professional whose job it is to comb through company policies and related documents. They can confirm there are no legal loopholes left in your policy that are potentially exploitable.
If you have no idea where to even start with updating your company policy, here are a few pointers:
1. Begin by defining hot desking. You are intimately familiar with it, but some of your employees may have never even heard of the concept before.
2. Include a page or section about why your company has decided to use hot desking going forward. It could be to bring employees closer, improve networking, boost productivity, or use space more smartly.
3. Now lay out the rules or responsibilities associated with the new arrangement. These should pertain to matters like working with minimal or no supervision as well as maintaining workspace tidiness.
4. Talk about what your own company responsibilities will be going forward as well. These can include ergonomic concerns such as a comfortable, workable environment or even creating a schedule that works for mostly everyone.
No two company policies will be identical, even if those two companies both use hot desking. The above suggestions are those only. Craft your company policy your way, but we would still advise you to let others have a part of the process to create the most agreeable company policy you can.
Next comes the part of the plan that is somewhat fun but very taxing as well. You need to retool your office layout to be more in-line with hot desking. This may mean using a single workstation or several, but either way, you’re cutting down on space. Some cubicles may be removed and some offices emptied. These rooms could now become collaboration spaces, resting areas, or meeting rooms, sometimes even all three.
With less equipment and fewer people in the office at once, you’re not paying as much for electricity. A space-smart layout can also increase your company’s cost savings. As you may remember from earlier articles in our hot desking series, these savings can be as much as 30 percent.
Even if you don’t have a particularly large office, the space will feel more open with fewer people milling about. You can begin to see where the appeal of hot desking comes from, even if it’s not a solution that works for all offices.
Sometimes you do have to spend money to make money, ordering new equipment for your hot desking setup. In other cases, you may be okay transitioning equipment from unused desks to the main workstation. Don’t skimp on equipment, though. You want ergonomic seating, computers designed for more than one user, phones, printers, and whatever tech and equipment makes it easiest for your employees to do their jobs well.
Once you’ve finalized where your employees will work, you have to decide who will be in the office at any given time. Hot desking strives to minimize the number of bodies in the office, which means allowing some staff to work remotely. Now, instead of doing their job at your office, they’re at home, a café, or anywhere they have an Internet connection. The employees in the office may have their own workstations or share one with another colleague.
You don’t want any one employee always out of the office and working remotely. Instead, alternate employees’ schedules so they’re in the office part of the week and working remotely the rest of the time.
It’s a balancing act and one that you can allow your employees to help with if you so choose. In granting employees more control over their hot desking schedule, they may be more willing to get onboard with it. However, we do want to reiterate something we’ve written about in a past post in this hot desking series. That is, even with all your accommodations, not every employee will be happy. If the majority are, that’s good enough.
It’s very important to begin monitoring the productivity of each employee. Not only can employees slack off when working remotely, but if they’re in a practically empty office, they can get away with doing less work, too.
You may be the one calling the shots and choosing to embrace hot desking, but your employees are the ones who have to live with it. You’re going to want to get their feedback whenever you can, but we especially suggest collecting questions, comments, and concerns a.) once you first roll out the hot desking plan, b.) a few months into it, and c.) at the end (provided you decide to stop hot desking).
There are lots of ways to request this feedback. You can have weekly or monthly staff meetings where employees can have an open forum. This real-time feedback lets you know which concerns are coming from who, so it’s useful in that regard. That said, some shyer employees might not feel comfortable sharing their opinions to your face.
You can also send out a survey. If names are attached to each survey response, then the same phenomenon can repeat itself, where shier employees don’t share their true feelings. Anonymous surveys are another option, but you must ensure the surveys are truly anonymous.
No matter which means of feedback suits your company best, make sure you explain to your staff why you want this feedback in the first place. Tell them you’re trying to make the office a better place to be for everyone involved and you need their feedback to do so.
If you ask for honest criticism, don’t be surprised if you get it. It may not always be pretty, either.
Once you’ve collected all the feedback from your staff, it’s time to parse through it and possibly do something with it. The easiest and most basic way to determine how well hot desking is working for your office is to count whether you have more positive or negative responses.
Sure, it’s always better when the feedback is predominantly positive, but keep in mind the results can be skewed. For instance, if names are attached to the feedback, some employees might have been extra nice so they don’t get in trouble.
That’s why it’s better to review the content of all the responses you receive. Perhaps you get 10 or so complaints about office cleanliness out of 30 employees. That would tell you it’s a pretty significant problem if almost half your office is complaining about it. You should pay special attention to how clean the workstations are between shifts.
If the problem is indeed as bad as your employees have said, then you might want to review your company policy and tweak the language. You could also create and enforce a new cleanliness rule to get employees to treat the office and their fellow staff with more respect.
Not every problem that comes up will necessarily be an issue all employees have. Some of your staff might complain just to do it. Others might be overwhelmingly negative, picking apart every aspect of the hot desking arrangement in the hopes you’ll go back to the old ways of doing things.
You have to use your best judgment to discern which problems are actually problems that deserve your attention.
This last step is optional, but if you have employees on the fence about hot desking, then it might be worth instituting. A hot desking trial for a few months gives your employees a taste of what their work lives might be like but without the promise of long-term hot desking.
Since employees know the trial is temporary, they could give the hot desking arrangement an honest try. Their feedback may be less biased since they’re not necessarily locked into hot desking forever.
A trial is a good idea for you, the company owner or employer, as well. After all, you might have gone through all the steps above, putting in a lot of time, money, and hard work. You’re excited about hot desking, but when the time comes to actually do it, you find it’s not the best solution for your office.
At least when you’re on a trial basis, it’s easy enough to call a spade a spade and quickly get back to the way things were at your company without losing too much money. Employee morale can also bounce back faster.
How do you quell anxiety about hot desking? If some of your employees have concerns and even anxiety about the hot desking arrangement, we’d recommend you set up a one-on-one meeting with them. Keep this private, as the issue is really only between you and the employee. (We have written two article that may be helpful - Psychological Impact of Hot Desking and What is Hot Desk Anxiety?)
Give the employee the floor to voice everything on their mind. Alleviate their concerns where you can. If multiple employees have anxiety about hot desking, then it may be worthwhile to call a meeting. This way, you can address everyone at the same time.
Should you expect a smooth transition to hot desking? Understand that there are always bumps in the road when making big company changes. You have to get a whole host of people onboard with the same objective, and that’s not easy. Anticipate that it won’t be the smoothest transition and be ready to overcome challenges as they crop up. (We have written an article that will help you assess if hot-desking is for your company - 10 Hot-Desking Questions to Answer Before Initiating)
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