The concept of using a ‘hot desk’ office system is popular in Europe and is catching on across the US. Hot desking is the sharing of office desk space between two or more employees. Most commonly when a full time position is shared by part time employees, but it could also be because of shift work, to save money or to save space. Some companies even adopt a hot desk workspace to encourage new interactions between staff, sort of a ready made networking solution to build new contacts without sending the team away on a team building exercise. If the manager is also in on the moving around, they get to see staff in a different way and can gauge the team interactions and changing dynamics. It can be stressful so we’re looking at ways to compromise and work together in hot desking harmony.
- Track changes if you are co-authoring the same document. When you are contributing to the same document, take advantage of the ‘track changes’ feature when word processing so that you effectively give a ‘handover’ of your progress which can be quickly reviewed as your colleague takes over. Even more important than the text that has been added, if text has been changed (deleted) it can be seen and either accepted or challenged.
It’s easy to access and to explore the options – click on review -> track changes or click in the editing box on a google doc and track changes.
- It takes compromise, learning to understand that you no longer take ownership of the desk as maybe you have been used to. That means cutting down on the personal photos, books for lunchtime reading and no longer leaving your snacks in the desk. It’s easy to see that the office takes on a more business like (generic) appearance which can be an attractive proposal especially if customers visit the office.
- A wireless keyboard and mouse for each person minimizes setup time.
- Have a daily routine of cleaning down and sanitizing the desk area ready for the next person.
- Set up a clear hierarchy of files for those which are shared by everyone and those which are personal. (For instance on the server set up a folder structure where it is obvious who should be accessing the data held there and protect the content with passwords if applicable)
- The desk doesn’t necessarily give the privacy you need sometimes to deal with a personal (or personnel) matter, sometimes you need silence to focus or brainstorm, for these occasions the office should have a quiet meeting room that you are able to borrow.
- This works best when mobile phones are used for inter-office communication as it can be difficult to pin down employees to a particular extension if they are moving around. If part time workers are sharing a desk for the same role, the traditional extensions may still work out. When email is the preferred communication, hot-desking has few pitfalls.
- Little gestures go a long way – a bowl of mints or candy to share will literally sweeten the desk area
- Passing through the area and knowing someone else will also use it automatically de-clutters the space and discourages papers being left around. Keep a clear tray of ‘work to do’ and write ‘handover’ notes where required.
- Security – beware the temptation of scribbling passwords on notes inside drawers or under the keyboard.
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