In addition to exploring how work could be done flexibly anywhere and anytime, CityWorkLife project also studies working in offices. Particularly, we are interested in finding out how recent developments in organizational space design affect employees and their way of working. That is, presently many organizations aim at developing collaboration as well as saving costs by divesting of private office rooms and private desks – hot desking seems to be the trend of today.
In CityWorkLife project we have had a chance to collect data from the employees of Sonera. Some of the employees who have responded to our survey have a year of experience of hot desking whereas some are about to move from private work stations to the space where they share desks. We have asked these employees about their expectations and experiences of hot desking.
Interestingly, the preliminary analysis of our data shows that along with experience of hot desking, the attitudes towards it get more favorable: Quite often people who are about to lose their private workstations or office rooms have pretty negative attitudes towards hot desking. They resist the idea of sharing workstations and worry that the lack of a private workstation will lead to problems in storing papers and even finding a desk every morning.
However, when we ask those who already have experience of hot desking, the tone of voice totally changes. In our study, 55% of those who shared desks said that hot desking had affected them in a positive way – only 10% experienced change as negative. Most of the employees experienced hot desking as liberating, motivating and energizing them. They said that it made collaboration with colleagues easier and enhanced effective information exchange. They also mentioned that it would be difficult to even imagine returning to work in private workstations.
These findings are really interesting. However, when evaluating them, it is important to remember that there are many things that affect the way employees eventually experience hot desking. For example, content of work, organizational culture and office design inevitably play a great role. In addition, there are several other questions that need to be addressed in order to make the hot desking as smooth and positive experience as it has been for employees of Sonera. In CityWorkLife project one of our aims is to find answers to these questions. Our data shows that at least when certain conditions are met, hot desking can be a great opportunity that increases the effectiveness and work satisfaction of employees.