The post-pandemic world is all about blurred boundary lines–from geographical borders to workspace demarcation. Hot-desking, a practice of not assigning employees to designated desks in the office, is a representation of the idea of boundlessness. But employees do not seem to adhere to it.
Unsurprisingly, employees dislike the tedium of racing their colleagues to find a desk or even the idea of “sharing” a desk with people who come in at a different schedule.
A LinkedIn poll revealed that 75 per cent of employees do not enjoy working on shared desks. An even larger share of British office workers expressed the same view last year in a university study that also suggested the idea that people grow to like hot-desking over time is rubbish.
Yet demand for “flexible working spaces” is an all-time high. A report this month from the JLL property group says 37 per cent of organizations globally have post-pandemic plans to increase their use of co-working or flexible space.
Before Covid, office property in big cities was so expensive that underused space cost companies an estimated £4bn a year in London alone. Now, those same businesses are introducing hybrid working so people can work some days at home and some in the office, which is precisely what most employees say they want.
But if much of the workforce is only coming into the office two or three days a week, it makes for a lot of underused space. Enter the hot desk, with predictable results.
Pilita Clark of the Financial Times shares that her return to office post-lockdown was not very ideal. She says if instead of competing for a desk with a couple dozen people from the office, she would rather stay home to work.
She says “a desk of one’s own is not merely more convenient and ergonomically sound. It is a sign that you are valued by, and belong to, an organization.”
Once it goes, so does a measure of loyalty to the business.