Are traditional working spaces still… working? We look at the pros and cons of hot-desking and what it could mean for the future of the office.

The way we work is constantly evolving. From advances in tech to the very buildings we work in, there’s always a new way to do business. Enter hot-desking, which most of us already know something about, but what exactly does it mean for the future of how we get our work done?

Any quick Google search will tell you that hot desking is when you don’t have an allocated desk at your place of work. Pretty simple. Words like ‘flexibility’ and ‘collaboration’ are usually involved, as not having a fixed place where you work allows you to move about the office and potentially get together with colleagues you might not usually sit with.

 

A new kind of office

The concept is often met with mixed responses, on the one hand, it saves space and if someone is working from home, or out of the office at meetings all day – there’s a desk available for another person to use. But if the idea is to encourage people to build connections with colleagues by moving around, you could also argue that this means you aren’t in any space long enough to build lasting relationships with the people you work with.

At the last successful WBI Dinner, hosted at Workspace’s Westbourne Studios, the future of the office was discussed at length. Daniel Hulme of Satalia spoke about his business, and how he encourages working together, rather than everyone staying glued to their desks all day.

He considered the point that traditional office spaces aren’t necessarily on the decline, just changing into new, more collaborative spaces. He explained: “Nobody has to come to the office if they don’t want, but people want to come to an office. They want to meet, and have that tactile experience and spend time with each other.”

 

 David Sheehan, Managing Partner at Veldhoen + Company UK, and a panellist alongside Daniel Hulme that night, was part of the team which introduced 'activity-based learning' at companies such as Lego and Sainsbury's. This concept organises spaces according to activities, so employees are not tied to their desks and move around according to their current task. Hot desking with intent, if you will. 

Here’s how it works at Lego; say you needed to work in a quiet and focused way, there would be a designated area for that, and if you needed a colleagues input on something, you’d simply work in the area that’s most likely to make that happen. With no fixed seating or offices for managers, if you are going to be away from your workspace for more than an hour and a half, you have to take your things with you and leave it free for others.

 

Senior Director, Sopie Patrikios at Lego says that their new method is working:

"In our May 2016 survey, 88% of staff said they liked the choice of where to work. They get a choice of different settings to suit their activity or mood, including a quiet library, a buzzing social area with background music, comfy chairs in cosy corners or big banks of desks to share with team-mates,"

 

Looking to the future

With a push towards a greater work/life balance, it seems clear that hot-desking in its new and exciting forms will continue to change our traditional office spaces. A recent report from US software giant Citrix forecast that by 2017, some 50% of businesses would have a mobile working policy, and by 2020, 70% of people would work away from the office as often as they worked at a desk. So, more and more of us will move away from a fixed space in which we work every day.

Workplace specialist Mark Eltringham, believes the office is evolving, not dying. Modern technology means that we don’t have to physically go into an office. He believes the trick is to bring the comforts and benefits of working remotely back into the workplace, so that people are still together in one place and able to communicate ideas directly.

He explains: “Companies are offering people choice about where they work and how they work and that is going to be the main defining characteristic of the office of the future.

“New offices will feature a core surrounded by break-out spaces, cafes, collaborative environments such as meeting rooms, private pods for working, and even games rooms and gyms. There will be a range of facilities to create an environment that people actually want to go to.”

At Workspace, we know a thing or two about creating innovative places to work and we’ve got flexible and fun spaces available across London, and we firmly believe in collaboration. If you’re still not convinced that not having a traditional fixed desk will change your working life, read this.

And when you’re done, why not have a look at our host of attractive offices, studios and industrial spaces in 69 prime locations, which are ideal for dynamic companies looking to make their mark. We can’t wait to hear from you.