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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 08-Jun-12


Friday 08-June-12

Hot desking and human adaptability

An organisation where I used to work was relocated to another city and we spent time trying to figure out how we'd fit in the new building.

One of the modern debates is around 'hot desks' and flexible working. In the bold new world of working wherever and whenever, desks seem to be less necessary, yet to be 'homeless' in the workplace can be a scary prospect. As the cost of space goes up, however, the pressure to reduce it continues.

Rather than blindly going hot, however, we started with an analysis of the job that we had to do and how we currently do it. For example we found that the multi-cyclic work meant periods of intense collaboration where many people were in at once, whilst at other times the place was nearly empty. So we did trials, with hot desks in the old office. This allowed us to do two things.

First, it let us try out various systems of desk booking, mobile technology, etc.

Secondly, it introduced people to the new ways of working. As might be expected, opinions were initially divided as the ducks-to-water were opposed by the majority of tree-huggers. But eventually, everyone got used to it and got on with the job.

With this bridgehead, we were then able to show the rest of the organisation that flexible working was not such a bad thing. For example it allowed people to work from home when they didn't need to come into work and by working in different desks each day you got to know and appreciate many more people.

It also meant that your desk was not your 'home' and physical storage was tighter. Technology became increasingly important, not just for storage but also for communication.

Some things were lost and some things were gained. And the world kept turning. We are an amazingly adaptable species and, although we dislike change, we handle it. At work, we adapted to changes and found ways of handling the cycles. Those who didn't like it left before we moved or soon after and those who replaced them knew no other way.

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