Do some of your employees come to you saying, “It was better before” after you moved to a shared and flexible workspace? Satisfying everybody is hard. However, optimizing and creating a more modern office space doesn’t mean your team members can no longer have a dedicated desk.
In some cases, keeping a few fixed desks in your work environment can make a lot of sense. Yes, the future of the office is flexible and adapts to your workers’ needs and tasks. People can change their working locations daily or several times a dayif they wish to.
From individual desks to collaborative areas and meeting rooms, they can choose what suits them best thanks to hot desking and room booking software like deskbird. But to be 100% agile and employee-centric, you also have to consider the idea that some people don’t want to work from a different space each time they come to the office.
Let’s dive into the pros and cons of letting your coworkers have their own desks and how you can make the most of it in a hybrid work environment.
What is a dedicated desk?
Dedicated desks, also referred to as “assigned desks” or “fixed desks”, are a type of seating arrangement commonly found in traditional workspaces and open office environments. Unlike a hot desking model, where your employees book any available desks, dedicated desks are usually reserved for the exclusive use of a specific person.
This system provides users with a consistent work location where they can leave their equipment and belongings without having to clear the space at the end of each day. Keeping dedicated desks in a hybrid work environment can be great for striking a balance between the flexibility of hot desking and personalizing traditional office setups. They offer a sense of permanence and a designated spot to focus within a shared and agile office design.
What’s the difference between a hot desk vs. a dedicated desk?
Benefits and downsides of hot desking
The pros of the hot desking model
Over the last couple of years, the flexible workplace strategy called “hot desking” has gained traction for its diverse benefits, leading many organizations to adopt this model. If you don’t know these perks yet, here are some of the key advantages hot desking offers for both employees and companies:
It encourages collaboration: switching work locations promotes interactions among different teams and departments.
It increases flexibility: an agile office layout offers employees control over where they work on a given day, according to their tasks and preferences.
It stimulates creativity and productivity: hot desking exposes employees to new perspectives by changing neighbors.
It reduces clutter: unassigned desks encourage a clean desk policy, leading to a tidier workspace.
Moreover, the increasing demand for workplace flexibility and the desire for a more dynamic, collaborative environment have made hot desking an attractive option for various forward-thinking businesses. Thanks to this office layout, they can optimize resources and invigorate their organizational culture.
However, like every model and despite the popularity of hot desking, there are some downsides, too. For example:
It removes access to personal space: employees may miss having a “home” at work to leave their belongings and customize.
It can create scheduling conflicts: finding a free desk during peak hours or a workspace that allows your staff to work in optimal conditions can be challenging.
It can cause sanitation concerns: shared desks can raise hygiene issues if not well managed.
The good news is that the deskbird app offers a solution to these downsides of hot desking. It allows team members to book their workspaces in advance, thus reducing scheduling conflicts and ensuring that everyone can plan their day with certainty. Its features also address concerns of personal space and routine by enabling workers to select preferred desks, fostering a sense of control and empowerment within the hot desking experience.
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Advantages and disadvantages of a dedicated desk
The perks of having a dedicated desk
In today’s flexible working environment, having a space to call your own can be invaluable. This is where the concept of a dedicated desk comes into play. A fixed desk also offers some benefits, including:
It can be personalized: with a dedicated desk, employees have the comfort of making their work area their own. They can set up pictures, plants, or even ergonomic equipment, making it more conducive to productivity and enjoyment.
It offers consistency: returning to the same space each time they come on-site provides a stable work environment, which helps in daily routine and productivity.
It reinforces cyber risk management: employees don’t have to worry about leaving belongings when the desk is exclusively theirs.
It decreases setup time: for your staff, knowing that they have a space set up with all their materials at hand can streamline their workflow, allowing for a more efficient workday.
Ultimately, incorporating assigned spaces within a flexible seating plan combines structure with freedom, enhancing employee satisfaction and productivity. It can particularly benefit those who thrive on consistency or handle sensitive information. Lastly, it puts you in a position that emphasizes your ability to adapt to diverse work preferences.
The drawbacks of a fixed desk
While dedicated desks have their perks, certain drawbacks may keep you from adopting this model exclusively:
It implies higher office costs: having dedicated desks only requires more office space than hot desks, leading to increased real estate expenses.
It removes flexibility: fixed desks limit the ability to adapt to fluctuating staff numbers and remote work preferences.
It reduces interaction: your employees may connect less when working from only one workspace, which can negatively impact collaboration and networking opportunities.
It leads to space inefficiency: having only dedicated desks in your office can result in a waste of space when employees are absent or working remotely.
These cons highlight why an exclusively dedicated desk arrangement may not be the smartest decision if you’re looking for cost efficiency, productivity, and agility. An optimal workplace incorporates a blend of seating options to maximize both interaction opportunities and space usage.
How do you determine how many dedicated desks your workspace needs?
1. Analyze how much of your workspace you can dedicate to fixed desks
To know how many dedicated desks should be available within your office, as facility and Corporate Real Estate (CRE) managers, you must meticulously assess the space capacity. This analysis includes evaluating the current office layout, considering the overall square footage, and accounting for essential spaces like meeting rooms, common areas, and required pathways.
Your goal is to balance spatial constraints against the need for dedicated workstations. By doing this, you ensure that you optimize the use of space without overcrowding or underutilization. This strategic planning is vital for creating an efficient and productive environment that aligns with the company’s operational requirements and employees’ expectations.
2. Study how your employees use the office space via your workplace analytics
To gauge the optimal number of dedicated desks for an office, you must also study the current office use. This means you should take an in-depth look at workplace analytics to uncover usage patterns, such as whether certain employees usually book the same workspace. Identifying these trends can serve as a first indicator of the potential demand for fixed desks.
Moreover, monitoring how frequently and consistently spaces are booked by individuals provides actionable insights. It enables you to estimate the number of dedicated desks needed to support your teams effectively.
This informed approach ensures that the allocation of assigned desks aligns with actual employee preferences and work habits. By doing so, you also design a tailored and efficient office layout that makes your workforce happy, satisfied, and productive.
3. Double-check with your team that this analysis reflects their actual needs
Determining the right amount of dedicated desks in an office isn’t solely about studying numbers. As a facility and CRE manager, you should also engage in meaningful dialogue with employees. Yes, workplace analytics data provides a first idea regarding office use and your team members’ requirements and habits. However, it’s essential to validate these findings against the actual needs and preferences of your workforce.
Discussing with your coworkers ensures that the derived conclusions from workplace usage patterns genuinely match their work routines and comfort needs. This collaborative approach reinforces that managerial decisions match the workforce’s requirements, thereby fostering an office environment that is both data-informed and human-centered. Integrating employee feedback bridges the gap between analytics and real-world satisfaction, leading to a tailored and effective desk allocation strategy.
How do you manage these workspaces in a hybrid setup?
Use space management software like deskbird
To run your agile work environment smoothly and handle the mix of hot desks, dedicated desks, collaborative workspaces, meeting rooms, and so on, implementing a user-friendly space management software like deskbird is key. Our tool is more than a desk and room booking software. It is a pivotal resource for both managers and workers.
Its role is essential not only to manage these various seating arrangements but also to maintain a positive employee experience and collect key data to continuously improve your physical workplace. By improving, we mean making the most of your space, ensuring it answers your team members’ needs, and finding cost-saving opportunities.
Focus on optimization and use your space smartly
You can allocate dedicated desks to your employees on a full-time basis. Yet, if your staff is working under a hybrid work model, each person who has their own desk might not use it daily from 9 to 5. Why should you then keep this space empty when they are not using it? The deskbird “assigned desk” feature allows the admin to block a desk for a team member at specific times.
For example, Alba could ask you to assign a desk by the window and close to the cafeteria for her. But she only comes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday mornings. The rest of the week, this workspace is free. You can make it available on your deskbird desk booking app so other colleagues can use it. They can even make it their dedicated desk on the slots available. With this solution, Jena can have this nice spot every Monday.
Make sure everyone knows the shared desk etiquette
If you use the method mentioned above, your employees won’t have a dedicated desk that is 100% theirs. Therefore, they can’t leave their belongings and equipment there. Desk etiquette guidelines then become essential to make this system work and be enjoyable for everyone. They ensure a seamless transition and maintain a respectful, organized workspace.
For instance, if Jena occupies desk number 4 on Mondays and Alba on Tuesdays, both should adhere to practices that involve keeping the desk tidy after use. This means securely storing personal items and sensitive documents and resetting any adjustable components (like monitor stands or chairs) to a standard position. Making sure everyone knows these protocols can prevent conflicts, promote mutual respect, and uphold a professional environment. Remember, effective communication of these standards is key to making flexible office layouts a success. They foster a sense of collective responsibility and care for the shared resources.
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Reanalyze the use of your dedicated desks regularly
Reevaluating the utilization of dedicated desks on a regular basis is a critical practice for ensuring that an office space model remains aligned with both the company’s objectives and the employees’ evolving needs. As team structures, project demands, and workforce dynamics change over time, what once seemed like an optimal desk assignment strategy may no longer serve the organization effectively.
Regular analysis can spotlight usage patterns, highlight under or over-utilized areas, and identify new preferences or requirements among staff. This proactive approach allows businesses to readjust their office layout to changing circumstances. This enables them to maintain a supportive, productive environment that reflects current working styles and enhances overall employee satisfaction. Adaptable space management is, therefore, essential for sustaining efficiency and fostering a responsive office culture.
As business dynamics evolve, so should the arrangement of your physical workspace. Keep in mind that both the employees’ needs and the company’s objectives can shift over time. This means regular reviews of your dedicated desk strategy are highly recommended. By doing so, you not only ensure a people-centric working environment that adapts to the changing demands of your team but also make sure you have the right layout to boost productivity and optimize your office costs.
Embrace flexibility and remain proactive. It’s the key to a thriving workplace that fully leverages the benefits of all types of workspaces, from hot to fixed desks and meeting rooms. Does it sound too challenging to implement and coordinate? Start a free trial of the deskbird app to discover how our desk booking software supports you in managing a modern and agile work environment seamlessly!
Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.