With public sector organisations facing budget pressures, many are looking for new and creative ways to save money. In previous blog posts we have looked at the process of digital transformation, and how moving communication with consumers online through channel shift is helping many local authorities cut costs. Today we will examine how we can use digital transformation to improve working practices and save money within an organisation through hot-desking.

Advances in technology have improved the practicality of flexible working, enabling employees to work remotely either at home, on-the-go or from abroad. The need for members of staff to be based in-house at a desk every day is declining and consequently many facilities in an office can often be left unused.

Why implement hot-Desking in your office?

According to a Telegraph article, there are three types of office workers: Those that sit at their desk no less than three times a week, those that work from home three or more times a week and those who do not fall into either category – the mobile workers – who become ‘hot-deskers’. Catering for these trends not only allows services to save money, but also allows for more suitable working practices for a new generation of digital employees.

Some businesses who are already using hot-desks in their offices are reporting cost savings of up to 30 percent – with this in mind let us explore the potential rewards and challenges implementing hot-desking can bring.

Hot-Desking saves money

With flexible working resulting in more staff frequently away from their desk during working hours, organisations should monitor how many desks are redundant yet still incur costs towards the day-to-day running of an office.

According to a 2013 Vodafone study, UK organisations could potentially save £34 billion by removing desks and encouraging a more flexible working atmosphere.

Hiring or building new office space is expensive. Heating an office, maintaining equipment levels and cleaning costs can also add up which is unnecessary if an office is rarely full. Managers should think about how employees currently use an office space and how it could be used more efficiently by removing or replacing unused equipment.

Time to redesign your office?

Once redundant equipment is removed and hot-desking implemented, more space in an office may become available but how best to use it? It could be turned into a quiet or closed off meeting area, a place to store extra office equipment or even just left as empty space. Some organisations have made substantial savings in maintenance bills through closing floors or sections of their buildings, and reallocating staff from multiple related departments across several floors to a single space.

Hot-Desking creates a new creative community

Progression in communication technology, such as Skype or Webex, has enabled employees to connect easily with colleagues without the need to be physically present in an office. When employees are office-based, there is the potential to have a different desk neighbour every day, leading to opportunities for employees to communicate cross-department. This can help lead to a wider sense of community, understanding and inclusive working. Research also suggests that non-territorial offices enable the generation of new and creative ideas.

What about the drawbacks?

As with any change, hot-desking can be a scary prospect. The idea of not having a ‘permanent’ work space can make people nervous and the prospect of repeatedly moving desks means staff are unable to personalise their workplace environment. As humans we want to create a sense of ‘belonging’. We want to be able to spread out and leave items or papers on our desks, knowing they will be there to use the next day. If not handled correctly, hot-desking can sometimes cause employees to feel a little lost or demotivated. A study by the University of Wolverhampton in 2011, raised concerns about employees not having their own desk, with the loss of control making it harder for some to deal with stress. Staff may also worry about being able to find a space if hot-desks are only allocated on a first come, first served basis.

To help keep employee morale from dropping, experts advise to ensure staff are kept involved with the hot-desking implementation process from designing the new set-up to regular feedback reviews. Choosing a hot-desking system with an online desk booking feature is certainly one way to reduce employees’ anxiety regarding desk availability and can help give staff back a feeling of control.

How best to hot-Desk?

It is important when implementing hot-desking to ensure a robust system is introduced that is tailored to your needs. The system must offer managers control, whilst not restricting members of staff from booking with relative freedom. A full suite of reporting services will allow managers to gather information and track their KPT performance, capturing data to help understand working practices and areas for improvement.

This will allow public sector services to better understand their work spaces, identify shortfalls and locate areas for potential efficiency savings. Hot-desking will not only change the way an organisation works but, with the correct tools, can help to further increase productivity.

If hot-desking is something that is of interest to you or your organisation, why not contact Stopford to see how our systems can help you build a more productive and cost-effective working environment.