Safe Practices for Hot Desking in the Cov-19 Era

People cleaning work desks

While it seemed at one point that the entire world stopped, it also made world leaders (and, to be honest, everyone else) realize that this is simply not an option.

The economy has shown as much, hasn’t it?

Left and right, business had to restart after grinding to a halt for safety reasons. Otherwise, they would have gone under and their employees would have been left without a job.

And that is not something that anyone needs during a global pandemic.

But this unfortunate turn of events did spark a much necessary conversation about health safety at work.

Now, while some jobs can be done remotely and many people did choose to work from home, some just do not have the luxury or simply do not want that.

What is there to do at a time when health is of the utmost importance?

Well, it’s simple (as simple as anything can be now) – adopt safe practices to ensure that each and every employee is risk-free. If you are interested to see whether hot desking is possible for your business even during a pandemic, look no further!

We will present some safe practices to adopt for hot desking during Covid-19 that will help you and your employees feel much safer.

Why is Hot Desking Good for Business?

Man working at desk

The world was headed in one direction before the pandemic, and it seems that, even though it has slightly derailed its progress, it has not completely stopped it.

Which bodes well for previously favorite forms of working in non-traditional offices.

Nowadays, there are many ways for you to work without the rigidity of traditional offices and a lot of people had already chosen that before the coronavirus pandemic. Co shared office spaces were incredibly popular, and it would seem that that trend has not been reduced, even with Covid looming over our necks.

One of those popular solutions also includes hot desking. And, with hot desking, many are wondering whether it will manage to “survive” the pandemic, so to speak.  

But, seeing as hot desking proved to be incredibly useful for business in the past it is unlikely that everyone will forget that any time soon, regardless of the pandemic.

Here are some of the ways hot desking can improve your business:

  • It increases cooperation. Hot desking basically encourages people to move around the office. As a result, they get to talk to members of their team with whom they would not normally interact. Also, this way, people from different parts of the office can cooperate on various projects.
  • It increases workers’ autonomy. Hot desking helps employees change their environment on a day-to-day basis and thus remain mobile. In that way, they get much more flexibility and autonomy than they would get in a traditional office. Simply put, employees don’t have to stay put, and that encourages them to push harder and achieve more, which is always good for business.
  • It ensures cleaner workspaces. Now, since employees should not leave their personal items on hot desks at the end of the day, this means they have to become minimalists, so to speak. That means – no stacks of paper overflowing everywhere, no knick-knacks on the desk, no photos. As a result, this leads to a much more organized co shared office space.
  • It lowers the costs. In a traditional office, there is a specific spot for each employee. However, if the worker is not there due to illness or even travelling, the space simply remains unused. But, it is still paid, unfortunately. In case of hot desking, there is no more wasted space. Whoever organizes work can downsize at any point and optimize the use of existing space. This leads to much more managed office spaces.

With all these benefits, we’re sure that hot desking will overcome the adversities Covid has placed upon this form of work.

But, the main question now is – how?

Concerns Regarding Hot Desking in a Pandemic

Now, as many of you already know, hot desking during a whole pandemic may seem counterintuitive. However, despite what many think, it really does have the possibility to be an extremely hygienic option.

Of course, when approached in the correct way. 

There are a few concerns that need to be addressed if you’re thinking about implementing hot desking in your office space.

The first, and, frankly, the most noticeable concern is the endless stream of people that use the same space throughout the entire day, not just the traditional work day. (Because, let’s face it, sometimes the notion of a work day extends looong after traditional hours are over.)

During one single day, a hot desk might get anywhere from a single occupant to eight or even more. And, although they will definitely never be together there, each new person at the desk brings the potential for new germs up by quite a lot.

Therefore, it is essential to carry out the disinfection of the space between each (and we do mean each) new occupant.

Another quite major safety concern to address arises if there is a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the workplace. It is important to introduce contact tracing as a definite priority, starting with the shared work spaces in the office. Try to develop an efficient system of records to know who occupied a desk, when, and for how long. 

In spite of these obvious concerns about shared space, there are some benefits that are worth noting. For instance, contact tracing can really be easier if there is a system or record that spans the entire office. Also, hot desks can be a better way of using the space safely as employees return to the workplace. Rotating through space instead of having all employees mingling within it is definitely the safer option.

Like any other facet of the workplace in the current climate, hot desking can really succeed with the right care. If you manage to keep your employees safe and, more importantly, if you make them feel safe, hot desking presents opportunities for quite a safe return to work and a transition back to productive normalcy.

Implementing Safe Practices

Coworking space

It seems that everyone is now a bit more conscious about their health and practices that might reduce the chances of getting any airborne illness, let alone Covid.

And, to be honest, this was somewhat of a wake-up call for people, wasn’t it?

Don’t worry, with a few simple modifications to your hot desking business, you can definitely find a solution that will protect your employees, thus ensuring the productivity and further growth of your business.

Encourage clean work stations

While work tables might have been cleaned regularly even before the pandemic, now it’s necessary to double down on cleaning.

After all, this is essential for the health of your employees, and the health of your employees is essential for your business.

And it’s true that we are now used to many cleaning practices in almost every part of our lives.

Yes, it’s boring, but it’s definitely necessary. Especially with many countries experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases again. Seeing as most of us spend a large portion of our days at work, offering a safe space is definitely pivotal at this point in time.

It’s good to make a policy of cleaning desk spaces before and after every (yes, every) use. Of course, it is necessary to use high-quality cleaning products and disinfectants. The best way to make sure everyone will clean their work tables is to provide cleaning supplies in common areas.

A simple solution for many companies can be to introduce at least 15-20 minutes of pause between users, in order to sanitize and sterilize the area.

Also, if your shared office space is too small, it might be necessary to mark every other station unavailable. This way, you will ensure social distancing measures are being followed.

In addition, it might be best to set up a system where employees can book desk space a day ahead. This way, proper cleaning can be carried out overnight.

Ensure proper ventilation of the space

Proper ventilation is an important factor in preventing the coronavirus from spreading indoors. And we all know how easy it is to spread – it can be transmitted up to six feet when someone sneezes or coughs. And if a space has poor ventilation, droplets can stay in a certain space long enough to spread it more easily.

In that case, not even social distancing can help.

Now, it is not really necessary to install a completely new ventilation system.

It is good to start with upgrading your filter to a high-efficiency model. Also, if you have the option, switch your system so it can circulate outside air. Recirculating it internally will definitely increase the chances of spreading virus.

If you can, also open as many windows as you can. Of course, with the colder months coming, this is not as possible as it used to be in the summer. Still, try to open them every once in a while.

Help your employees be and feel safe

Woman on Zoom call on laptop

If your employees feel comfortable when returning to work, they will be more productive and, in turn, your business will continue to be efficient even through these trying times.

  • Encourage virtual meetings. This is not that difficult, at least not in this day and age. With many, many options for online meeting places, there is no need to meet in person, at least not during the pandemic. If an in-person meeting needs to be held, it would be preferable to set capacity limits. Social distancing rules need to be applied in such cases, as well.
  • Provide the necessary protective equipment. Yes, we know it’s not terribly pleasant, but hey, at least we’re used to masks by now. Make sure that your employees have masks and gloves, as well as hand sanitizer and tissues at hand. Set them up close in common areas, and make them easily visible.
  • Set up screening stations at the entrance. This may be the easiest step so far. With a simple no-contact infrared thermometer, you can provide the first barrier for a safe office. Screening lasts only a few seconds, but it means the world for both the employers and the employees.
  • Show flexibility. These times are definitely uncertain. And, of course, some employees do not feel completely safe returning to the office, no matter what measures are implemented. It is, therefore, necessary to establish flexible work procedures for them. If they are more comfortable working from home and working at the office only some of the time, they should be allowed to do that during a pandemic. If you refuse to show flexibility, this may very well lead to them experiencing employee burnout because of the constant stress.
  • Organize entry and exit times. Now, this may be a difficult task, because, as someone has said, uncertainty is the new certainty. And it’s true, you do not know when your employees will come to work. However, if you stagger entry and exit times and make sure everyone sticks to the rules, you will definitely reduce the chance of many employees occupying a small space at a time. Another option may be to place arrows on the floor to direct people going in and out so they don’t meet. And, finally, if possible, separate the entrance from the exit.

So, is it possible to return to hot desking safely?

A hot desking return to work may actually be one of the safest options. Again, as we’ve noted, if it is done correctly.

So, try to keep employees distant and separated. Clean workspaces as well as you can. Then, why not, clean them again. Create an efficient system for tracking and tracing contacts. 

Remember – keep health and safety at the forefront of every hot desking decision.

As long as your employees know and feel that hot desks are a safe solution, they will return to work more easily. This is especially true for employees who are a bit wary of returning to the office, and those who may feel more comfortable knowing how hot desking benefits their health during these times.

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