Don’t make desk-sharing mandatory as it’s not universally popular

Many companies are increasingly flexible when it comes to their employees switching between working from home and in the office. However, many are also taking this as an opportunity to reduce the number of workstations available. — dpa

BERLIN: The hybrid working models introduced since the pandemic broke out may seem like they give you the best of both worlds, with employees able to enjoy the benefits of working at home sometimes and in the office at others.

A parallel trend that is less widely loved is desk-sharing, where staff no longer have their own, personal desk but are allocated a spot that they then vacate at the end of the working day.

Farewell to stowing your snacks, your tea and your comfy shoes in the drawers, and photos of your smiling family on the wall nearby.

Instead, many offices use online booking systems to allocate workstations to employees for the day.

That may save money but it does not always go down well.

Often, having your own desk at work is associated with a longing for “home” and individuality, says Kerstin Hillbrink, a German health management consultant. She says that people’s scepticism about desk-sharing models is often related to a fear of change and the unknown, especially if it is a new model for the team or company.

Her advice is to make sure to involve staff in developing the right desk-sharing model for your particular workplace.

Also, don’t introduce desk-sharing as a concept that is fixed and rigid but adapt it to people’s individual circumstances.

Start out by asking the question: What can be done best where?

When it comes to desk-sharing, companies should encourage employees to come together in the office for project- or topic-related work. Meanwhile, they are better off doing work that requires a higher level of quiet and concentration at home.

However, people like hybrid working models, as a recent survey showed. The concept was embraced by 1,700 people working in office or knowledge-based jobs, in a poll by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO).

Ideally, employees would like to spend around half of their working time in the office in the future, the poll found. Respondents said they mainly are interested in the opportunity to collaborate, work together and exchange ideas with their colleagues.

That will require innovative office concepts in the future, the FAO says. That could mean retreats for focused work, meeting and project rooms, for example, along with open meeting places.

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