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Forget open-plan offices: migrate to a hot desk community to boost productivity, cut costs

Looking to cut overhead costs associated with rent and boost workforce productivity? The latest workspace trend could provide the answer. Forget open-plan offices, which can result in too many distractions for employees; instead, consider hot desking. 

As employers increasingly embrace workplace flexibility, the expectation that employees will always work from the office has diminished and hot desk communities have popped up. They tend to be based in smaller offices with several meeting rooms and involve staff sitting at any desk available, rather than having one assigned to them.

Hot desk communities evolved out of the movement where office hubs were established for small business that needed access to equipment like photocopiers and printers but infrequently used office space for meetings. These communities are now being set up in traditional offices by employers who have tried the open-plan setting only to find it didn’t work and caused tension in the office.

In open-plan offices, staff often resort to wearing headphones to block-out noise, which can isolate them by making them seem unapproachable. An open-plan office can also be a breeding ground for sickness and an environment conducive to gossip with implications for productivity and morale.

If you’re a business with a sales team that’s out on the road a lot, or whose employees can readily work from home, it makes sense to trade in the open-plan office for a hot desk community because. It’s good for productivity and reduces overhead costs.

Bank West is trying hot desking in the office with staff heading to their locker each morning to get what they need and then sitting down at any desk. Management reports that productivity has increased along with colleague engagement and teamwork.

Not only does hot desking create a community vibe, new conversations and ideas arise due to the fact that seating arrangements change daily.

We are going to see a growing number of hot desk communities in Australia. In fact, big businesses such as Australia Post and St George are establishing more and more hot desk community spaces for small and growing businesses. This is great news for small business operators because one of the biggest overhead costs is office space. Money saved on renting out a huge office space is money that can be spent on growing your business.

Technology is advancing faster than ever so every business needs to prepare for digital disruption and should be considering hot desk communities as a bridge between the current workplace and the portable tablet office and as a means of continuing their corporate culture and employee accountability. In the past three years, I’ve seen a 50 percent increase in hot desk communities in Australia. The main advantages of embracing this option are:

1. Productivity: As the person sitting next to you is changing regularly the conversation is less about gossip and more about work.

2. Reduced Costs: As staff come and go in the office there’s not a need for big work spaces so companies will save on square footage.

3. Connected: A sense of family is often established as people are more excited to see familiar faces as they’re not seeing them every day.

4. Flexibility: Helps provide a good work and life balance for employees making them happier and more productive. Often crèches are provided on site to help new mums stay in the workforce.

I think hot desk communities will have a huge impact on Gen Y and Millennials remaining with the same employer for more than 18 months because the vibe and flexibility is what they’re after.

About the author

Shannon Daniels went from living in his car to building Perth’s most successful strata cleaning company from scratch, which he later sold for a generous profit. A decade on he has started, built and sold several multi million dollar businesses and founded business consultancy Emanation

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Shannon Daniels

Shannon Daniels

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