Desk sharing - the perfect model for hybrid work
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Desk sharing - The ideal concept for hybrid work

With the shift from an office-first approach to more employees working remotely, many companies no longer need to provide a separate workstation for each employee. At the same time, a hybrid working model is changing the demands on the office. As a place of collaboration, there needs to be areas for creative and productive collaboration instead of workplaces. Desk sharing offers a flexible way to provide employees in hybrid work 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 organisation in companies in which

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

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

Hot Desk Principle

With the hot desk approach, the "first come, first served" principle applies. If a workstation is needed, it can be freely chosen from those currently available.

Desk Hotelling Principle

With desk-hotelling, a workstation is booked in advance. Reserved workstations are then blocked for other people. Various software providers now offer booking platforms for this purpose, which can be used to digitise one's 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 on different levels.

  • For the company, desk sharing offers financial advantages. A cost saving of up to 30 per cent is reported by some companies, 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 freed-up space can then be used for other areas, such as meeting areas or creative zones, thus promoting successful hybrid working.
Desk sharing - space for creative zones
  • As a rule, desk sharing involves all employees, from student workers to management. The result is a reduction of hierarchical structures and the strengthening of work at eye level.
  • In addition, a flex-desk policy promotes exchange between colleagues. The free choice of seats promotes company-wide exchange, as employees from different departments come into contact with each other more often.
  • Last but not least, new organisational forms 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, which they can design individually, there is a danger that they will feel less at home and that their attachment and loyalty to their own company will suffer.
  • If places are no longer permanently allocated, the effort required to find a workstation increases, especially with the hot desking principle. The same applies to setting up the workplace. If the height of the desk and the office chair have to be readjusted every time the employee leaves the workplace, this means more stress and less time for productive work.
  • Last but not least, there is the danger that without a fixed seating arrangement, team cohesion suffers when team members no longer sit next to each other but are spread out across the entire office.

Rules so that desk sharing can succeed

Whether desk sharing is suitable as a model for one's own company cannot be answered across the board. For all those who decide to introduce a flex desk model, we have some tips on how it can be successfully implemented.

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 staff 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 solution that suits your company and that everyone involved can live with in the future.

Clean Desk Policy

Desk sharing can only function smoothly if the workplace is left tidy. By neatly storing documents and personal belongings 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 workplaces are important so that every employee can quickly set up and be productive at any place without any problems. Uniformity includes, on the one hand, the scope of work equipment and devices. In addition to a desk and an ergonomic swivel chair, a monitor, a docking station for connecting other devices as well as a keyboard and mouse belong at every workstation.

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

Provide space for private things

Desk sharing - space for private things

Storing private things at your own workplace is no longer part of the shared desk model. But at the same time, your employees do not want to permanently transport their personal belongings back and forth between home and work. With lockers or lockable office cabinets, you create a way to store personal belongings safely.