Working from home a few days a week can come at a price: ceding office territory. “The quid pro quo of more flexibility is you can’t have a space that you call your own,” says Nick South, a partner at Boston Consulting Group. With less space to go around in downsized post-Covid offices, enter hot desking. The concept started slowly, foisted primarily on visitors, temps and part-timers—and sometimes more broadly at fast-moving tech companies and startups. Now it’s taking over entire office buildings.
It’s no crowd-pleaser. “We want to sit in a familiar place with people we work with and like,” says Christine Armstrong, an office culture researcher at Armstrong & Partners in Winchester, England. “Any well-intentioned technological solution to consolidate spaces and mix people up is destined to make them cross—and be circumnavigated by those you hope will use it.” Here are seven ways to help staff warm up to hot desking:
Start by asking employees what they want from hot desking, check what works and what doesn’t, then repeat and repeat again. Look into suggestions big and small, from moving the fan on the second floor to revamping the entire booking system. “You feel like you’re doing it together rather than the management implementing yet another thing that’s going to affect my well-being,” says Suzanne Marshall, head of clinical strategy at employee wellness consultant GoodShape in London.