Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, employers were looking for ways to change their workspaces to become more efficient and to meet the needs of their evolving employee population.
Transitioning to cloud storage or adding freelance workers with more flexible work schedules are a couple solutions. When it comes to the high-cost expense of office space, many businesses have opted to reduce the number of workspaces and allow employees to select a new desk each day — a practice known as hot desking.
What is hot desking?
Hot desking is an office arrangement in which workstations are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no assigned seating and most workers don’t have a dedicated desk to visit each day.
Proponents of hot desking boast numerous benefits External Site, such as cost-savings, increased collaboration and greater freedom for employees. Hot desking can be particularly advantageous in creative industries where flexible work environments can mean the difference between stale ideas and creative inspiration.
Additionally, Hybrid office spaces External Site External Site are growing in popularity among millennial employees, causing more employers to shift to hot desking in an effort to maintain top talent.
But as local governments across the nation begin opening back up, businesses are beginning to think twice about a work arrangement in which numerous employees could be using the same workspace multiple times per day.
How to encourage safe hot desking in your workplace
You may be thinking the pandemic prompted the end of hot desking, but with the proper cleaning measures in place, you can find a solution that protects your employees and keeps your business productive.
You and your employees may have trusted that those hot desking work stations were cleaned regularly before the pandemic, but now more than ever, good cleaning habits are essential for the health of your employees. If you don’t already have one, create a policy of cleaning desk spaces before and after every use using quality cleaning solutions and disinfectants. Provide cleaning supplies in common areas and encourage your employees to clean as they come and go.
Depending how your office space is set up, you may need to mark every other station as unavailable to ensure social distancing measures are being followed.
Additionally, if work spaces were a free-for-all before the coronavirus, you may need to set up a system where employees can book desk space at least one day ahead to allow proper cleaning overnight.
Allowing your employees to feel comfortable returning to work will make them more productive and help your business maintain efficiency in the midst of change. A few changes may be needed to help keep your employees safe:
- Set capacity limits on meetings and encourage virtual meetings, even in the office.
- Stagger entry and exit times so there’s a smaller chance of many employees occupying a small space at one time.
- Provide face coverings and gloves for employees who would like to use them, and hand sanitizer and tissues to catch those coughs and sneezes.
- Screen employees for coronavirus symptoms or fever as they enter the building. Allow them the chance to work from home if they’re more comfortable with that.
- Establish flexible work procedures for employees who are more comfortable not returning to the office yet or can’t due to limited child care.
Coronavirus is spread through water droplets, which can be transmitted up to six feet when a person sneezes or coughs. Poor ventilation External Site can cause those droplets to linger in enclosed spaces long enough to spread the virus. Even with social distancing measures in place, poor ventilation can mean a higher risk of infection.
The installation of a brand new ventilation system isn’t necessary. Simply upgrading your A/C filter to a high-efficiency model is a good starting place, or if you have the option, switching your system to circulating outside air versus recirculating it internally. Also try increasing circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows.
Because hot desking spaces can be shared by several employees in a single day, be sure to provide EPA-approved cleaning products External Site for employees to use. Keep cleaning supplies and disinfectants in common areas for everyone’s use. According to the CDC, routinely cleaning External Site surfaces in common areas and high-touch surfaces (such as tables, doorknobs and light switches) is one of the best ways to keep your employees safe.
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