How Hot Are Hot Desks?

Office space was once defined by the ambition of the alpha male to have a corner office with two exterior windows. This was a status symbol of high renown – deemed far superior to the lowly office with only one window or none at all. The carving up of office space was even a distinction for the underlings with some having a desk and a side pedestal and others having only a desk. How times have changed!

True, some stuffy businesses may still be postured in the past but the modern way is viscerally different. Hot desks are now the thing! Hot is not a reference to the ambient temperature of the desk or the occupant. A hot desk is a work station that may not even resemble a traditional desk. It’s a space sufficiently set-out to hold a lap-top or mini PC – the existence of a chair is not a given!

Hot desks provide flexibility in the modern, fast-moving office environment. The concept of plug-ins means that several employees can use the facility at different times of the day. The traditional habit of stashing our personal items in and around our desk has to be re-evaluated because the space no longer has our name on it.

The idea of hot desks initially took root in the shared-office environment where employees from different companies could arrive, connect to the internet, sip a skinny latte and move on without a trace. It now extends to other businesses where employees from different divisions of a company follow the same routines.

Assuming they can measure productivity levels, the advantages for employers are numerous. A hot desk cuts down on office space and the incumbent costs; it keeps employees on their toes (literally); it keeps employees motivated and it demonstrates that employers are progressive. For employees, there may be beneficial health aspects to hot desks particularly the upright kind. Standing helps you lose weight, lowers your blood-sugar levels, reduces the risk of heart disease, alleviates back pain, improves mood, boosts productivity and helps you live longer!!! We suggest further scientific study is necessary to substantiate some of these perceived benefits.

Recent developments are even more intriguing. Learning from the airline industry where planes are regularly overbooked because experience indicates that some passengers don’t show, employers are now actively reducing the number of desks available – often by as much as 25%. This forces employees to think long and hard about how they are going to get their work done. Even when they turn up on time there may be no stations available.

A word of caution!! Human nature is a wonderfully agile trait. Employees may adopt ways to collaborate with colleagues to outwit employers. It may become part of the working day to determine the optimal time to attend at the workplace – scheming with other employees on the most convenient personal outcome. Wasting time on such exertions may well undermine the very productivity levels that hot desks are supposed to advance!

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