11 Oct 2020

Desk Sharing: What It Is and How to Get Started

Back in the 1990s, 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 workstations. Over time, companies have learned that assigned desks are 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. 

The recent pandemic showed us that companies which had already implemented flexible workspaces are more adaptable and resilient. On the other hand, companies that resisted flexible workspaces for years were forced to change how they work. 

Despite the pandemic being over, we have to remember the lesson it taught us - flexible work helps companies stay on track when the unexpected happens. And desk sharing is a fantastic way to ensure your workspace is nimble and efficient.

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 and hoteling

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. This approach is akin to desk hoteling where employees book desks in advance and usually for an extended period of 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, leading to cost savings. 

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 and hot desking

The second approach is to allow any employee to book shared desks anytime they need. This approach is akin to hot desking - although hot desking works on a first-come-first-serve basis, being able to make last-minute desk bookings is very similar.

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 space 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.

However, managing the rotation and availability of shared desks can be challenging without the right tools.

This is where Joan’s desk booking system comes in. With its user-friendly interface, it enables employees to easily find and reserve available desks based on their schedules. Joan also helps office managers efficiently manage the number of desks and monitor occupancy to ensure an optimal desk arrangement.

In the end, no matter your chosen approach, flexible workspaces foster innovation and create a work environment suitable for all.



Making desk sharing a success

Bringing desk sharing into an office can be a smooth process, so long as the company covers its bases. 

It’s crucial that each employee is provided with a laptop instead of a desktop computer to support remote work and flexible work.

There also needs to be a user-friendly desk reservation system in place. Without it, employees will waste time looking for available shared desks that suit their needs, especially if they want to collaborate with certain coworkers.

Implementing Joan’s desk reservation solution ensures that employees can easily find and reserve shared desks in advance. Such a desk-sharing system also allows employees to check which desks are available at any given time and see where their team members are seated.

Next, you’ll want to ensure your employees (especially your Customer Support team) have access to a softphone; a software program for making and receiving telephone calls. Desk-sharing policies are often incompatible with personal phones and 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, shared desks can only be booked for four hours at a time. Joan’s desk sharing solution can help enforce and manage these guidelines, ensuring employees stick to their specific desk schedules. Guidelines can also include keeping desks clean and ready for the next user, and promoting a sense of personal space and hygiene in the workspace.

To sum it up:

  1. Make sure everyone’s got a laptop so they can easily work from anywhere
  2. Implement a desk booking solution to streamline the reservation and availability of shared desks
  3. Set up guidelines for booking desks and use a desk booking system to help them stick

Manage a flexible workplace with desk sharing solutions

Although the concept of shared desks is pretty straightforward, they can lead to wasted time and a messy workplace 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 l emergencies or other circumstances that keep employees from their desks.

Saving cost while improving employee satisfaction sounds like a no-brainer: shared desks would benefit nearly any workspace. The best news? You too can test out a desk-sharing solution. Start a free trial with Joan and experience the power of a well-managed flexible workspace.