Hot desking is more than just swapping desks

Nov 12, 2018 | Articles, Practice - Digital, Practice - Strategy

With the average desk in a London office costing more than £7,000 a year[1]*, ensuring your workplace is running at capacity has never been more important. Pressure on businesses to cut costs is coming from all angles, and reducing your real estate spend – currently second only to wages in a service business’ outgoings – is one area that could benefit more than just your bottom line. Introducing flexible working techniques, such as desk sharing and home working, is one way to address this issue, but doing it in an effective way can be difficult. Allowing an employee to work from home means an empty desk in the office, which is wasted expenditure, especially if applied across your organisation. Reducing the number of available desks to avoid this wastage means more people than desks and could result in employees arriving at the office without a workspace.

Work-life balance

Flexible working has been proven to benefit not only the employee but also the employer. For the employee, the benefits are often focused on improving their work-life balance, as well as looking after their health and wellbeing. However, such arrangements also impact positively on productivity. Research from the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD), a professional body for experts in people at work, has shown that implementing flexible working practices can improve staff engagement and motivation, reduce absenteeism and enhance employee loyalty. It also helps increase the pool of applicants for vacant roles and retain the current experienced and skilled staff. There is also an additional positive financial implication for organisations that offer flexible working as many employees value flexibility over other more traditional benefits such as increased remuneration.

The issue however, is managing the flexibility and its associated requirements, such as appropriate computer and communications equipment and secure logins. Real estate costs are already acknowledged as the second-highest spend for businesses after wages, but many organisations continue to run offices where only a proportion of the desks are occupied. According to research by Instant Offices, the average cost of a desk in London is $897 (£628) a month, $1,110 in New York and $616 (HKD4,820) in Hong Kong[2]. With many firms achieving only 60 per cent utilisation of their office space, businesses are wasting millions of dollars on unnecessary real estate.

Hotdesking, hoteling or neighbourhood working

One option is to encourage employees to share desk space. Often referred to as hotdesking, hoteling or neighbourhood working, this practice is favoured by millennial workers. Unlike older more traditional employees, millennials don’t feel the need to have the same, permanent desk in an office. This agile way of working not only attempts to address the issue of empty workspaces, but it also allows employees to mix with different people depending on the specific tasks they are working on at any time. In the absence of proper planning, problems can arise however, such as when all employees decide to go into the office on the same day. Organisations are suddenly faced with more people than desk space, reducing the ability of staff to effectively complete their daily work activities.

This is where workplace planning tools can be very effective. Not only do they allow employees to book in and out of desks in advance, ensuring they have a guaranteed space when they do come into the office, but they also give managers an overview of how their desk space is being used. This data can feed into techniques such as Organisational Network Analysis (ONA), a method used to analyse the flow of information, communications and data across an organisation.
The findings can then be used to create detailed models of an organisation’s people, groups, tasks, knowledge and resources, allowing organisations to improve employee well-being through behavioural analysis. This data and corresponding analysis is particularly useful in today’s cities where the cost of real estate has skyrocketed in the past decade. Many organisations are looking for ways to reduce costs and consolidate office space, and in some cases relocating offices to cheaper locations is an effective way to impact the bottom line. Workplace management tools, if used and managed correctly, have significant potential for cost savings.

Christopher Burke, CEO of Brickendon Digital and creator of hotdesk+, a new workplace planning tool which has been proven to cut real estate and project costs by more than half and double real estate utilisation rates, agrees.

“By implementing hotdesk+, managers and company executives are able to take control of their real estate assets and use them to their best possible potential,” he says.

“Thanks to the tool’s rich data model, executives are able to analyse desk-usability data and detailed behavioural analytics.

This in turn can be used to map projections against actual utilisation (down to a minute on one desk or across a number of years for the whole organisation), giving management the required information to confidently make key real-estate decisions.”

Simple and secure

Burke also stated that hotdesk+ was developed with simplicity in mind. Most tasks take only a second to perform, and the product’s benchmark is no more than three mouse clicks – even to book a desk for a whole week. The key, he says, is the same as with any business-enhancing technology: “keep it simple, ensure it’s secure and make its benefits obvious.” As we have seen, flexible working is something that can both improve staff wellbeing and productivity AND reduce your office costs. It’s what the millennial generation of workers are coming to expect and as a result, if organisations want to attract and retain the best staff, it is something they are going to have to embrace and seek to embed wherever possible.

To find out more about hotdesk+ contact Brickendon Digital on 0203 693 2605

[1] https://www.instantoffices.com/blog/reports-and-research/cost-per-desk-in-london/

[2] https://www.theinstantgroup.com/media/1363/global-cities-2017.pdf

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