Headlines: October 6th, 2006



Public sector employees may have to embrace a culture of remote working and hotdesking if the Government is to realise its goal of saving £21bn of public sector expenditure under the Gershon Review. Part of the saving will be achieved by decentralising from large, expensive offices, and moving into smaller premises located in lower cost areas, reflecting the current trend for organisations to reduce their building and premises costs by downscaling to a smaller site.

Hotdesking will be a key element in the drive to reduce costs and increase efficiency. It is sometimes known as location independent working and is an arrangement where staff do not have their own desks but choose a different space to work in each day. It works best with an organization where a lot of staff are out of the office most of the time. In this case, staff have no real need for a permanent space, and thus overheads and ongoing management costs can be reduced.

Hotdesking relies on advanced office systems, with the most flexible technology needed to route telephone calls and retrieve working files. It is not a cheap system to implement, particularly if staff use electronic notebooks and mobiles. Excellent office management is also required to ensure resources are allocated fairly and according to need.

Nigel Reading, Business Development Director for BusinessSolve, a company that provides software systems for hotdesking said: “In our experience, the organisations that realised the most benefits of decentralising, are those that made it easy for their staff to hotdesk and work remotely.”

The risk with hotdesking is that hotdeskers may be irritated that they have no personal space in their working environment. In struggling to find information on the network or when setting up their phone every time they enter the office, they may feel rootless. At worst, this dissatisfaction may lead to a perceived loss of status and a feeling of being undervalued.