Keeping your hot-deskers shipshape
If applied with care, forethought and consultation, hot-desking it can be a solution right across your company. But the issues are far-reaching - not least of which is selecting the right technology
The Sunday Times' annual survey into Britain's best companies, as voted for by their employees, reminds us that the nature of work is changing. As more people classify themselves as intellectual workers rather than blue-collar, they want a better balance between life and work. Legislation now gives employees a statutory right to ask for more flexible working practices and employers must respond within two weeks.
It's not just a nice-to-have either. As technology increasingly permits, more people find their work removes them from the office for significant periods of time, especially if the business becomes more dispersed.
It all means flexible working is becoming more prevalent, in particular, hot-desking. It's a term believed to derive from the sharing of bunks that perforce exists on warships: to save space, a sailor coming off watch sleeps in a bunk still warm from the previous occupant who is just going on duty. In the same way, employees share desks but not at the same time.
That sort of flexibility is popular among other employees too, as the newspaper's survey suggests. If people are allowed to work from home, even as little as a morning a week, their job satisfaction jumps. Among the top 100 companies, many, such as Sun, allow considerable degrees of work/life flexibility, including hot-desking. Employers tend to agree that such flexible working can help retain staff and increase productivity.
If a more conventional, PC-based approach is taken, management overheads are likely to be higher, security needs to be watertight and costs per workstation may be higher. For example, a hot-desked PC will need a card reader so that, wherever the user logs on, the correct profile along with network and file server permissions are delivered automatically to that PC and the machine looks to each individual like their own.