Beat the heat – make hot-desking work for you

Mark Samuels

Wednesday 21 January 2015

An Englishman’s home might be his castle, but a desk is no longer an employee’s sole domain. The rise of hot-desking, and an associated programme like ‘activity-based working’, has usurped the traditional office layout in many organisations. That said, this policy can bring with it its own set of challenges.

Hot-desking can produce big benefits, but the successful implementation of the approach is not always straightforward. Workers can become very possessive of their allocated space, particularly in regards to having a specific spot to lay out their personal belongings.

Yet mobility can help boost employee productivity, allowing workers to stay connected and to work collaboratively from any location. The workplace, in short, is no longer a fixed address. And IT leaders should create a strategy that allows employees to feel confident about the move to mobility.

One possibility is activity-based working (ABW), where hubs are created for collaborative team working. Rather than focusing on the traditional office set-up of desks and IT facilities in one place, ABW creates a flexible approach where the working space is organised according to activities.

Employees use the office space for the task they’re about to complete. So, while one area might be given over to brain-storming and collaboration, another might be set up for video conferencing, and part of the office can even be set aside for downtime, coffee and conversation.

There are some high-profile examples of ABW already in place. Brokerage firm GLG’s head office in New York includes a series of anchor points, with each business group owning a neighbourhood. In the UK, Vodafone’s head office in Newbury is an open plan space, where collaborative zones within the building allow employees to work on cross-functional tasks.

The key to successful ABW is mobility. Although the strategy tends to group like-minded individuals, such as those working on specific projects, there is usually still some element of desk hopping and technology sharing. Executives looking to set up ABW must make sure they provide the right supporting infrastructure.

Mobile connectivity will be essential, so your business must prioritise strong wireless networking. Security can be a challenge, too. Organisations need to know that the data of desk-hopping employees’ is safe as they work from location to location. Productivity represents another challenge. From wherever they work in the office, your workers will need access to a trusted and familiar set of tools.

Smart technology providers are looking to provide a solution to these considerable business challenges. Take Lenovo’s Tiny-All-In-One (TIO) system, which provides a clutter-free and compact solution for the IT challenges associated to hot-desking.

The TIO monitor is compatible with laptops and peripherals, meaning employees can plug-and-play with their own IT components and businesses can update specific elements separately, which helps keep costs down.

With the right technology set-up, and a strategy that pays attention to cultural and security concerns, companies can keep their hot-desking workers happy and start to develop the knowledge workers of the future.