Hot-desking is a Hot Topic

Hot-desking looks cool in movies like The Internship, where Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson work at Google (not that I’m recommending the movie – that’s another matter entirely). Anything 21st century seems to be so funky and trendy. Most companies seem to hop on board and want to be a part of it. That makes sense. No one wants to be left behind when all around everyone else is moving ahead.

There are lots of pros and lots of cons however. No one really seemed to foresee the cons, but that’s typical of many office practices. Here are a few positives:

  1. No more office cubicles. Remember the hilarious urban legend about the worker who died in his cubicle and no one noticed for a week? Enough said.
  2. Communal space – it’s a cool way to promote togetherness at work. Tearing down walls promotes a sense of community.
  3. Alternative seating arrangements – Sometimes there is a standing room only type of table top for people to put their laptops on. That’s how you work for a number of hours. It’s good for maybe less than an hour at a time otherwise that could get a bit tedious. At the same time it’s a great break for your back from sitting in a chair all day.
  4. Mobility – It’s very easy to pick up your cell and laptop so you can move around the office. Some companies organize their phones so that a person’s extension can be re-programmed to another location.
  5. No Overtime at Work – Ideally you can take your work home with you and you can catch up on anything you didn’t finish at work. In fact you can work virtually (pun) anywhere including coffee shops because they offer free wiifii.
  6. Better utilization of office space.…which leads to 35% less company expense and more corporate money in the company’s pocket.

And here are a few negatives:

  1. Coffee shops really aren’t made for work unless you have a Herculean concentration level .
  2. Working from home has a lot of distractions – this slows productivity.
  3. Isolation – working outside of the office can lead to loneliness for some people who really don’t like working at home or elsewhere. I know. Weird.
  4. Sameness – doesn’t work for everyone. It’s a little Brother Billy. You know, 1984? Seriously?
  5. No more personalizing your work space. Some people like bringing in pics of their family, their dogs, their cottage and so on. I never did get that one.
  6. Lack of privacyeveryone can hear every word you utter. Or think, if you think too loudly.
  7. Speaking of volume some people talk very loudly when they work and it is very distracting for other people. Same with loud music. You can always stick in iPod earbuds but not everyone can work with music blasting in their ears – even music they like.
  8. Actual ear plugs are so-so. Not entirely effective but they’re better than nothing. Of course, some people can’t standing anything in their ears except wax.
  9. Seating isn’t always great. You might get stuck near the kitchen and the smells coming from that particular room can be a little nauseating.
 I guess the point is you can’t please all the people all the time. If you’re an old-timer (a la Vaughn and Wilson) you might find hot-desking to be nigh impossible. If you’re a recent university grad, you’re used to this concept and it’s probably not such a big issue. Maybe.
When I was working in the university computer lab recently a woman walked up to me and – seriously – said I was typing too loudly and could I type more quietly? I didn’t even have an answer to that one.
Perhaps some people really are better off working from home. Or a tunnel somewhere.



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