Two contrasting approaches to hot desking


At a seminar at Ecobuild, I heard of two very different approaches to hot desking. This anecdote was part of a talk by Phyllida Mills, architect with Penoyre & Prasad LLP and a member of the SBID’s sustainability panel. The practice had successfully implemented an interior refurbishment with sustainability as a key part of the brief. Hot desking was just one of several aspects of the finished interior that allowed better use of the space, and accommodated the needs of several different types of users, ranging from communications team to more academic types who were accustomed to quiter, more studious workspace.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ ‘desk booking’ system was mentioned – I looked into this a bit more and it is based around a contactless ID card, and a booking system that operates like a hotel room booking system.

102 of these can be booked when required using the “hotelling”, or hot-desking, system.  For example, members of staff from another city who need to work in Zurich for a short time, identify themselves at the entrance using the LEGIC contactless smart card, and use the same card to book a desk at one of the three hotelling consoles in the foyer.  When they leave the building in the evening, it is an easy matter to release the desk again, using the LEGIC smart card.

This type of system can cause problems, if no resource is dedicated to administer the system, and if the users are not familiar with booking in and booking out. Forum posts on the Lean Enterprise Institute explore these problems, and explore ways of using lean principles to find the solution to a system that wasn’t working.

The City, London

PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Zurich is a large office- 1064 workstations- and a computer based system might well be the best option. But for small teams, a ‘visually managed’ system is much easier and more efficient. In other words, placing a rubber duck on the desk when it is free.

Rubber duck on desk



2 Responses to “Two contrasting approaches to hot desking”

  1. Miguel Says:

    The problem with hot design is that workers do not feel identified with the workspace and are normally unable to create a routine around a moving environment. I don’t know if this is the best solution to a moving workforce.

  2. Owen Philipson Says:

    Thanks for the comment. I have my reservations too. What is the solution though? Is desk-sharing a better option?

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