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Desk sharing - the perfect model for hybrid working
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Desk sharing - the ideal concept for hybrid working

With the shift from an office-first approach to more employees working remotely, many companies no longer need to provide a separate workplace for each employee. At the same time, a hybrid working model is changing the demands placed on the office. As a place of collaboration, areas for creative and productive collaboration are needed instead of workstations. Desk sharing offers a flexible way to provide employees in hybrid working models with a place for focused work.

What does desk sharing mean?

The term desk sharing (alternatively also flex-desk approach) basically refers to a form of organization in companies in which

  • a separate workstation is not provided for each employee.
  • the existing workstations are used by several employees.

In principle, there are two ways in which flexible workstations can be used. 

Hot desk principle

The hot desk approach is based on the "first come, first served" principle. If a workstation is required, it can be freely selected from those currently available.

Desk Hotelling principle

With desk hosting, a workstation is booked in advance. Reserved workstations are then blocked for other people. Various software providers now offer booking platforms for this, which can be used to digitize your own office and allow employees to book free workstations quickly and easily.

Desk-Sharing - Desk-Hotelling

What are the advantages of desk sharing? And what are the disadvantages?

The desk-sharing principle brings advantages at various levels.

  • Desk sharing offers financial benefits for the company. Some companies claim cost savings of up to 30 percent, as they now have to equip fewer workstations. At the same time, fewer workstations also mean that costs for renting additional office space are saved.
  • The space that is freed up can then be used for other areas, such as meeting areas or creative zones, thereby promoting successful hybrid working.
Desk sharing - space for creative zones
  • As a rule, desk sharing involves all employees, from working students to management. The result is a reduction in hierarchical structures and the strengthening of work at eye level.
  • A flex-desk policy also promotes communication between colleagues. The free choice of seating encourages company-wide communication, as employees from different departments also come into contact with each other more frequently.
  • Last but not least, new forms of organization such as desk sharing are a sign of a modern corporate culture and therefore have a positive impact on employer branding. This can be the decisive advantage over other companies in the competition for new employees.

At the same time, desk sharing also has potential disadvantages that you need to be aware of in advance.

  • If employees do not have their own workplace that they can design individually, there is a risk that they will feel less at home and that their attachment and loyalty to their own company will suffer.
  • If workstations are no longer permanently assigned, the effort involved in finding a workstation increases, especially with the hot-desking principle. The same applies to setting up the workstation. If the desk height and office chair have to be readjusted every time someone leaves the workstation, this means more stress and less time for productive work.
  • Last but not least, without a fixed seating arrangement, there is a risk that team cohesion will suffer if team members no longer sit next to each other but spread out across the entire office.

Rules to make desk sharing a success

There is no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether desk sharing is a suitable model for your own company. For anyone who decides to introduce a flex-desk model, we have some tips on how to implement it successfully.

Involve employees

The shared desk approach can only succeed if the employees support the concept. Before the decision for or against desk sharing is made, you should involve your employees in the decision-making process. Explain the advantages of the concept, but also be open to critical opinions.

Above all, talk about how the practical implementation should take place (see Hot Desking & Desk Hotelling). This is the only way to find a suitable solution for your company that everyone involved can live with in the future.

Clean Desk Policy

Desk sharing can only work smoothly if the workplace is left tidy. By storing documents and personal belongings neatly when leaving, colleagues can easily take over the workplace later.

However, it is also advisable to adopt a clean desk policy for other reasons, such as improved data protection.

Workplace equipment

Uniformly equipped workstations are important so that every employee can quickly set up and be productive at any workstation without any problems. One aspect of uniformity is the range of work equipment and devices. In addition to a desk and an ergonomic swivel chair, a monitor, a docking station for connecting additional devices as well as a keyboard and mouse belong at every workstation.

It should also be possible to set up the workplace according to individual needs. With a height-adjustable desk and a high-quality swivel chair, you give your colleagues the opportunity to adjust their working height and sitting position so that they can work comfortably and ergonomically.

Provide space for private things

Desk sharing - space for private things

Storing personal belongings at your own workplace is no longer part of the shared desk model. But at the same time, your employees don't want to be constantly transporting their personal belongings back and forth between home and work. With lockers or lockable office cabinets, you create a way to store personal belongings securely.