This week we had a much loved staff member move on. Her position won’t be re-advertised so I have inherited her desk.
I work weird hours and I spend more than half of my working hours out on the service desk, so I was previously hotdesking with a few other part time staff. I didn’t mind it, I’m not particularly possessive of having my own space since all I really need to do my job is a personal network drive to store my files, and an internet connection. According to my experience, here are the pro’s and cons of hotdesking compared to… erm, regular desking.
- It is a space saver. The whole hotdesking thing was actually initiated when a few staff moved to another campus, meaning there were just enough desks for two offices to be consolidated into one, if a handful of part time staff shared a few desks. The empty office was actually converted to make more student space in the library.
- Better team relationships. The two old offices were actually divided into the “Librarians” office and the “Loans team” (i.e. library technician & assistants) office. We are lucky to have a really cohesive staff team, and having everyone together in the same office has fostered that even more. Us librarians used to be in an office upstairs, the “ivory tower”, as I called it, which meant we were not that approachable.
- Less clutter. You’re less inclined to leave piles of paper around when a space isn’t “yours”. I’m a self-declared paper-hater, and turn down offers of booklets and handouts and bits and pieces which I’m guaranteed to never look at again if I file them away in some drawer of booklets and handouts and bits and pieces. Having limited space to store unnecessary papers is a plus, in my opinion, because it discourages it from accumulating.
- It’s hard for people to get in contact by phone since they don’t know which desk you’re at. We have a shared office space so colleagues can easily approach each other in person, but if a phone call comes through the main desk, the staff member there does not know what number to forward it to because they don’t know which station I’m at. I’m sure that workplaces that have embraced “full hotdesk” are mobile based.
- Using a handful of different computers meant setting up my internet bookmarks for each of them. Even though I saved my bookmarks as an HTML file and imported them to each computer I would use, I would end up adding and subtracting bookmarks and they ended up being all different on different computers. I’m sure there are web-based bookmarking apps I could have used to get around this, but I didn’t bother. I’m not a huge bookmarker, I just like having a little toolbar of my most used sites to access quickly. Again, I’m sure “full hotdesk” workers use laptops.
- You’re not able to personalise your workspace. As I mentioned, I don’t mind, but some people find it hard to adjust to different environments all the time, and would rather have their workspace set up according to how they like it and how they work efficiently. Also, it is nice to have pictures, decorations, trophies, etc. to customise your workspace to make it more personal. My first thought when I got set up at my new desk was that I’ll need to bring in some knick-knacks to put around the place.
- Even though there was a handful of desks to chose from, most of us would end up having a de facto “main” desk that we gravitated towards. Mine was the smallest, which made people feel sorry for me, but I didn’t care because I had all the space I needed. Much more than my study at home.
- Staff members would express confusion and surprise when I changed location day to day. Sometimes they’d be looking for me, and they’d look at my “usual” spot and not see me, so they’d conclude that I wasn’t around. They’d then get spooked when I suddenly appeared sitting somewhere else. Now they’ll know where to find me!