Will COVID-19 Put Hot-Desking on Ice?

There’s one thing I’m sure of: COVID-19 has changed work forever. Earlier this month I wrote about the measures workplaces can take to ensure they adhere to the government’s safety guidelines. In this follow-up piece I ask the question: will COVID-19 stop the trend of hot desking?

Yes, according to the British Council for Offices (BCO). In its paper titled ‘Thoughts on office design and operation after COVID-19’, the BCO states that desk sharing is likely to become very unpopular.

I, on the other hand, am not so sure. While I concede that offices with hot-desking policies may find themselves up against resistance from employees now aware of the dangers of shared spaces and contaminated surfaces, I do believe there is still a place for hot-desking. And Graham Pearce from TBP Architects also agrees. In fact, he goes as far as to say hot-desking will form a fundamental part in re-thinking office spaces of the future.

He says: “With home working likely to continue long after the pandemic’s control measures ease, hot-desking becomes even more practical. Many larger companies are considering that their staff may work on rotation, three days from home and two days in the office for example. So rather than having dedicated workstations, hot-desking becomes a far more viable, practical and attractive proposition.”

He believes there are still ways to push ahead with hot-desking. Chiefly it would require a well-communicated and thorough daily cleaning process to put employees at ease. And similar to fixed-desk space, installing acrylic ‘sneeze screens’ would make workplace health and safety much easier to manage. Finally, it may be that the workplaces of the future actually feature a blend of hot-desking and fixed-desking workspaces, offering many what they have wanted for so long: the flexibility to choose.

by Nick Tagliarini

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