Back in the 1990’s, most employers believed that the keys to productive, efficient employees were rigid work schedules along with clean-cut workspaces. Workers were expected to work nine-to-five jobs, with the majority of their time spent in their designated cubicles. Over time, companies have learned that the desk is not always the best place for all work projects. Sometimes a whiteboard is needed, sometimes a wall of sticky notes. And sometimes, teams just need to focus from the comfort of their home.
Based on recent events, companies who had already implemented flexible workspaces weathered COVID-19 the best. On the other hand, companies that resisted flexible workspaces for years were forced to adapt. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that flexibility helps companies stay on track when the unexpected happens.
Desk sharing is a fantastic way to easily manage flexible workspaces in an efficient and transparent way.
About desk sharing
Shared desks have no designated owner. Instead, they’re shared among employees. There are two main approaches to incorporating shared desks.
Sharing between employees
The first approach is to have desks shared by two to three employees. These employees take turns either working shifts or working remotely. Either way, only one of these two or three employees is at the desk at any given time. One major benefit of this style of desk sharing is financial. By using the same workspace for multiple employees, the company doesn’t need to invest in as much real estate to accommodate all of its employees.
Another benefit of this first approach is that employees have a private refuge where they can work solo and concentrate on their projects. However, designated desks might not be optimal for all work environments.
Free for all
The second approach is, instead of designating desks to individual employees, shared desks can be booked by any employee anytime.
For example, Jean might spend most of her workdays in meetings or working from home. When inspiration hits, however, she books a desk in a quieter area of the office and hunkers down at a shared desk to work uninterrupted for hours.
This second approach works best for companies that thrive on more flexible and interactive work environments, yet still have a use for traditional workspaces.
In the end, no matter the approach you choose, flexible workspaces foster innovation and create a work environment suitable for all. However, for the sake of the post-lockdown era, we recommend the second method for easier contact tracing and controlling the number of people in the office.
Making desk sharing a success
Bringing desk sharing into an office can be a smooth process, so long as the company covers its bases.
For example, it’s important that each employee is given a laptop instead of a desktop computer. If they only have a desktop, they can’t port their computer from one location to another; not practically at least.
Although shared desks can be first-come-first-serve stations, the amount of time employees spend trying to find an available one can cut into their workday. Not to mention the health risk that accompanies people wandering around the office.
The right technology can save you here.
Set up a desk booking solution that’s so easy to use that everyone grasps it at their first try. That way, employees can book shared desks minutes or even days in advance. Using a desk sharing system, employees can also check which shared desks are available at any given time and see where their team members are seated.
Next, you’ll want to make sure your employees (especially your Customer Support team) have access to a softphone; a software program for making and receiving telephone calls. With the loss of personal desks comes the loss of personal phones. Companies that still use on-the-desk, wired phones are at a disadvantage when pushing toward shared desks.
Also, set up desk guidelines. For example, maybe shared desks can only be booked for four hours at a time. A desk booking system can help make sure employees stick to their desk schedules. Guidelines can also include keeping desks clean and ready for the next user.
To sum it up:
Make sure everyone’s got a laptop so they can easily work from anywhere
Implement a desk booking solution
Set up guidelines for booking desks
Manage a flexible workplace with desk sharing solutions
Although the concept of shared desks is pretty straight forward, they can lead to wasted time and health hazard if not set up correctly. Make sure you have the right systems in place, both environmental and technological, before adding shared desks to a workspace.
Ultimately, flexible workspaces allow employees to work where they’ll be the most productive. Not to mention, flexibility helps the company prepare for national emergencies or other circumstances that keep employees from their desks.