Time to get familiar with new legislation on asset acquisitions and disposals.
By Ashleigh Swayn - CEO
I think it was back in the ‘90s that the idea of hot desking first appeared on the business management agenda.
While the concept has taken a little time to catch on, and is now known as activity-based workflow, the rise of the mobile workforce, fueled by the internet and the mass take up of smartphones and tablets, has been the real game changer. With true business mobility, your people can be productive and work wherever they like, yet still access all your business applications. You see, these days it’s not about going to work, but doing the work.
Unoccupied desk space costs money
Just look around your workplace – how many of your desk spaces are actually occupied at the same time? You probably have any number of your employees off site, whether working from home, on the road or at other business locations. Having all that unoccupied desk space is costing your business money.
With real estate rental costs growing ever skyward, where’s the logic in paying for under-utilised office space? And employees generally relish the ability to work from home to avoid or at least diminish the daily commute.
These days, there’s certainly a business case for encouraging flexible work practices and encouraging staff that don’t physically need to be in the office or workplace to do their jobs remotely, while providing a shared space for them at the workplace when they need to be on site.
Virtualise your business
Of course, before you decide to streamline your operations in this way, you need to understand how your company’s assets are being used. It’s amazing how many companies do not have an accurate understanding of how well their office space is being used. To find out how much your company could save in real estate leasing costs, just multiply the square metres of empty office space by the price per square metre. For most businesses, this will be considerable.
While hot desking (getting different staff to use the same work station at different times) can help your business save money by reducing the number of desk spaces – and therefore your office space leasing requirements as well as IT infrastructure, energy and cleaning – it’s not something you can implement without getting your employees to buy in.
For many of your workers, the whole notion of taking away their ‘home away from home’ complete with family photos and personal paraphernalia and replacing it with a space that can change from day to day is very disquieting. For these employees, the shift to hot desking may result in them feeling disconnected from their work and co-workers and this can lead to less productivity, low morale and increased staff turnover. However, for just as many others, it will be regarded as a positive move where they can take advantage of ‘mixing it up’ to get to know more co-workers. Plus if they don’t need to be on site every day, they’ll relish the flexibility to achieve more of a work/life balance simply because they’re avoiding the daily commute and sitting in traffic for two hours a day.
Move to hot desks by degrees
Of course it’s not a question of ‘to hot desk or not to hot desk’, as you can shift to hot desks by degrees. For instance, a good first move might be to isolate all your people who currently work for a large proportion of their time off site, and set up a hot desk pod for them to use when they are on site, and set up scheduling to book into the hot desk workspace.
You can also set up teams of hot desks where employees within a team hot desk but are all anchored within the team space.
Or you can just go ahead and follow the lead of the Commonwealth Bank and hot desk your whole business. The bank’s state of the art office premises at Darling Harbour in Sydney are described as the largest activity-based working project in the world.
At the bank, teams are assigned a primary working space, called a ‘home zone’, of 70 to 100 people where the team and personal lockers are based. But employees can choose to work anywhere throughout the building. At each work station is a laptop dock, a keyboard and screen, while wireless headsets allow workers to make calls through their computers. At the end of each day, any personal affects need to be stored away in the locker and the space cleared of any mess. So, come the next day, employees aren’t greeted with someone else’s work clutter and festering coffee cups.
While this extreme won’t fit the mould for most businesses, a little bit of hot desking will probably be a worthwhile move – both for workplace flexibility as well as your bottom line. This may be particularly pertinent if you’re about to renew your lease or are considering moving to larger premises to accommodate more staff. Think about it: if any of your workers can perform their duties off site – and you can put robust productivity measures in place – then why go to the cost of accommodating them?
For traditional business owners, this virtual way of running your business may take a while to catch on. But more and more, the need to provide a place of work to house all your staff under one roof is going to go the way of the long lunch.
If you'd like to know more about streamlining your business for cost effectiveness please get in touch with the team here at Countplus mbt.
This article was first published on Nett on 10th April 2012