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Hot desking contributing to stress at work

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The vast majority (92%) of office workers have experienced issues with hot desking, according to research by Brickendon

As employers try to cater to a sharp rise in freelancers, hot desking has become a popular option, with 52% of employers reporting that they're open to the idea, the research found. But it’s often not implemented properly, it stated, highlighting a need for businesses to do more to look after their employees’ wellbeing.

The survey, of 1,001 UK office workers aged 18 and over, looked at the impact of hot desking, and found that 80% of office workers reported that office seating can negatively affect their mental wellbeing. The most prominent causes for hot desking malaise were: wasting time setting up a computer (44%), wasting time looking for a desk when starting work (31%) and difficulty bonding with their team (22%).

Over half (58%) of respondents cited the prospect of not knowing where to sit every day as the biggest stressor when it comes to hot desking, while 61% felt the ability to pre-book their seat in advance would ease this worry.

Speaking to HR magazine, CEO of Brickendon Christopher Burke said that getting hot desking wrong can have disastrous consequences for organisations. “Office environments are definitely overlooked as part of wellbeing. We’ve heard some horror stories in terms of what can happen when employers don’t get it right. One firm had a group of working parents sat in a Starbucks. It can be a very isolating experience,” he said.

This can particularly be the case in larger firms, he added. “If you’ve got an office of 400 people and they’re constantly changing desks, it can make communication difficult, and organising it can create a stressful environment.”

There are benefits to hot desking, however, Burke said: “It can help staff to share knowledge and interact with people they normally might not get the chance to talk to. It can also make for much tidier, calm workspaces."

Burke recommended employers focus on proper planning to make a success out of hot desking: “Everyone should be able to at least book a desk in advance. This can take away some of the stress and anxiety that we all experience from time to time if you’re not sure of where you’re going to sit. There’s a lot of technology out there that can make the process easier.”