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Five ways to thrive in a desk sharing office

Often referred to as ‘hot-desking’, desk sharing is on the rise in many offices due to the rise in popularity of hybrid working models. In this blog post, we share our top tips for working in a desk sharing environment.

First up, what’s desk sharing?

In a nutshell, desk sharing means that there are no (or very few) designated desks in an office – instead, employees arrive at work and seek out an available workspace. Many businesses have been working this way for several years now, but if you’re new to the world of desk sharing it can be a daunting prospect. If you’re feeling nervous, take a look at our top tips below and you’ll be a pro in no time.

1. Keep an open mind

Desk sharing can be intimidating but the best thing you can do is keep an open mind. Don’t get us wrong, there’s comfort in knowing where you’ll be sitting every day. But desk sharing can actually be fun! You’ll get to know different colleagues and get an insight into other areas of the business that you might never have crossed paths with otherwise. In fact, many employees prefer a less constricted working environment once they get used to it. So why not approach desk-sharing with a positive mindset and see where it takes you? You may well grow to love it!

2. Understand the etiquette

You’re feeling positive and ready to embrace the benefits of desk sharing – but you’re not sure where to start. Can you really just sit down at any desk? Or is there an unwritten rule that certain seats are taken? It seems like a minefield…

Desk sharing etiquette can differ hugely from office to office depending on the culture – so it’s good to be clear on the rules from the offset. Most offices will have a written desk-sharing policy that it’s worth having a browse of to put your mind at ease. Failing that, speak to your manager or colleagues and ask lots of questions about what is and isn’t acceptable. Some offices will have ‘zoning’ for example where certain teams sit in the same area. In other offices, anyone really can sit anywhere. Taking the time to understand the etiquette in your place of work can really help to settle those nerves.

There is one universal rule when it comes to desk sharing though. Leave the desk as you found it. Don’t forget to tidy your things away at the end of each day – and if you’ve got a bus or train to catch, try to tidy up as you go to avoid that end of the day rush. Wash your cup up as soon as you’re done with it and leave cables and wires as you found them so the next person to use the desk can get set up quickly and easily.

Tidy desks at SmartSearch

3. Think hygiene

Hygiene and desk-sharing should always go hand in hand, but COVID-19 has shone an even brighter spotlight on the need to regularly disinfect surfaces. Most employers now provide disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser as standard but it’s always worth having a spare stock of these items to be extra safe. And it’s not just your desk that needs cleaning. Don’t forget mice and keyboards, along with any other regularly touched areas such as chair arms.

Get into the habit of starting and ending your day with a thorough clean to protect yourself and your colleagues and remember to keep washing your hands throughout the day. Finally, as temping as it might be (and we’ve all done it), try to avoid eating at your desk. Research suggests this can increase bacteria by 32%.

Eat in your office kitchen area rather than at your desk

4. Personalise other areas

As fun as desk sharing can be, it is nice to have a space in the office that you can call your own. Most desk sharing offices will have lockers (or similar) for employees to store personal items, so why not add some personal touches to this area instead? Family photos or fun stationery can be just the pick me up you need if you’re having a bad day! Alternatively, many offices have dedicated wall space for family photos, employee artwork, notices and more. Take advantage of this and add some personal touches if appropriate.

There are also some really cool apps out there that enable staff to request temperature and lighting changes to help them feel more comfortable. Siemens, for example, have recently installed the Comfy app in 600 company locations to support its move to hybrid working. If your office doesn’t have anything similar, speak to your employer about whether it’s feasible to implement. This could be just the trick if you miss your old desk directly under the aircon!

Personal touches added to an office wall space

Learn what works for you

Ensuring your workstation is set up to help your posture is so important – but can seem like a big job if you’re frequently changing desks. It doesn’t have to be though! Take some time at the outset to understand how to set up your desk in the best way for you. Then make sure you give yourself a minute or two every morning to position everything properly. Your future self will thank you for it!

For some people, desk sharing can affect their focus as they’re exposed to colleagues performing very different job roles. People who do a lot of written work can find it difficult to sit next to a colleague who spends a lot of time on the phone, for example. Again, this is all about taking the time to learn what works for you. Noise cancelling headphones might become your new best friend. Or perhaps you could reorganise your workload, so you do some of your ‘quieter’ tasks at home.

We hope our tips will ease the transition for you and help you to thrive in your new working environment. If you’re an employer looking to implement desk sharing into your office we’d love to help you design an office that supports this way of working. As office design and build specialists, we offer an office fit out package completely tailored to your business’s individual needs. 

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