Aligning Engagement Around Hot Desking

Aligning Engagement Around Hot Desking

Much before COVID-19 disrupted every economic activity, employers were looking for ways to change their workspaces to reinforce greater efficiency and meet the needs of their evolving employee population.


Transitioning to cloud storage or adding consultants or freelance employees with more flexible work schedules were some of the solutions that were being contemplated. Post the pandemic, the most common strategy adopted by organisations was the rationalisation of office space and renegotiation of rents. This was consistent across India where demand for office space was booming until COVID-19 struck earlier this year.


Hot desking to rationalise infrastructure


In order to rationalise the infrastructure and expenditure associated with the high-cost of office space, many businesses have chosen to reduce the number of workspaces and allow employees to select a new desk each day — a practice known as hot desking.


Hot desking is a scenario wherein an employee is not allocated a dedicated workstation. This is the best solution where we opt for WFH, while at the same time, employees come to the office on a rotational basis with some decided periodicity, say for instance, once a fortnight or a month. It provides employees with the flexibility to Work from Home, while at the same time come to the office in a periodic manner.


As companies rethink the office of the future, hot desking or flexi workspace will emerge as an office trend that is set to get hotter in the post COVID-19 era. With companies globally configuring a higher WFH component in future business plans, hot desking is now emerging as a serious workplace trend. With changing mindsets and companies looking to make optimum utilisation of space while they cut down on infrastructure cost, the trend will catch on in India as well. This will also enable businesses to retain less space by encouraging staff to work remotely.


Understanding the benefits


The first step to getting multiple departments to work together is in understanding why hot desking is a beneficial option. These are departments that are responsible for supporting employees through most of their dayto-day operations. Once hot desking is implemented, we can anticipate a steep drop in employee engagement over a period of time. HR can help find ways to better engage employees by way of seeking feedback and inputs, and create strategies which ensure that the employees do not feel isolated from their workspace.


Studies have shown that engaged employees are more productive, innovative and loyal, and yet many organisations are failing to address the broad range of factors that can influence engagements– including workplace design.


An employee may be sceptical about losing out on bonding with colleagues due to the diminishing social aspect of working from home and not coming to office for a longer period. This is where hot desking works wonders. It is extremely critical for HR to guide and educate employees on Hot Desking by circulating wellguided policies where different departments can follow rosters. In this manner, employees who are otherwise working from home get the opportunity to come to the office periodically. This helps in bonding among the employees which is otherwise missing due to WFH.


A study by Gallup shows that employees who own personal workspaces are 1.4 times more likely to be engaged. However, this does not imply that employees require a dedicated desk. Instead, employees simply need an ongoing connect from the organisation which is enough to help improve engagements. By working closely with the HR department, businesses can ensure that this is evolved as a culture and managers need to hone the skillset to make an employee feel that they are still connected with their colleagues, manager and the leadership team. HR plays a key role in facilitating programmes which lead to a greater connect for these employees. At the same time, ensure that programmes which helps them keep the spirits high and gradually makes them feel vibrant to rejoice the culture and help evolve a hot desking strategy which will benefit the employees. Besides that, managers also need to find the new ways to redefine productivity by way of regular conversations with their teams to resolve unclear expectations and confusion about priorities.


COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity for organisations to elevate their corporate culture and make it mutually beneficial. At this point, it is important that organisations and managers display trust in their team and ensure effective team bonding which may otherwise be lacking due to WFH or hot desking. A simple replication of office working style and effective team building can help employees to feel trusted, and thereby, relieve them of stress and enhance their work efficiency and wellbeing.


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Meenaa Sharma is Chief Human Resource Officer, Reliance Smart Money. She is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in various HR functions across sectors which include Telecom, Oil & Gas & financial Services. She has worked in organisations such as Reliance Infocomm, Reliance Petroleum, Birla Global and Finance. Meenaa is an MBA in Human Resources


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