Thinking of making the hot-desk switch?

by HCA15 Oct 2013

Businesses have been warned by a leading workplace consultancy not to focus on cost savings at the expense of employee needs.

The popularity of hot-desking is being driven by environmental and cost benefits, but also because it is said to bring a certain flexible, exciting culture to a company. An ever increasing number of Australian workplaces have embraced hot-desking,, and the notion is to give employees the means to work wherever they feel most comfortable – essentially a marked shift towards judging an employee’s output, not simply their presence.

The Commonwealth Bank is one of the latest organisations to switch to non-permanent desks, and even senior management at the Darling Quarter in Sydney do not have offices. More than 6,000 staff work in the HQ building, and none will have permanent desks in the brightly coloured new workplace. ‘Home zones’ house 70-100 employees where their team is based, and each employee has a personal locker and Macbook Air computer. Workstations have laptop docks, a keyboard and screen, but employees can also opt to work in other areas throughout the building, including a library-style space (where mobile phones are banned), cafes, meeting rooms or booths.

However, not everyone is sold on the new-age thinking. “We are still seeing many job seekers who tend to shy away from the idea of shared workspaces. They believe they will feel less engaged with their work and although hot-desking is cost effective – a business is not just about the space and infrastructure – a large part of it is people,” Ray Fleming from Kelly Executive said.

It is important to consider that changing an employees’ work style may affect productivity and motivation, and in understanding that shifting to a hot-desking structure may drive some employees to start look elsewhere for employment, Kelly Executive warned of the following implications:


  • De-personalisation of immediate workspace means employees may feel less connected to their work. 
  • The new cultural shift will be stressful and daunting to staff, they will have to change their work habits to fit in with the new work environment. 
  • Some employees may not agree with the new structure as they feel like they have ‘earned the right’ to their own space. It is important that businesses recognise the ‘human’ side to this issue and that consultation with staff is provided to air out any grievances.


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