With staff retention always crucial; office space in cities increasingly expensive; and the lifestyle preferences of working millennials to consider, flexible working practices including hot-desking and remote working have become commonplace. However, flexible working isn’t something that can be introduced overnight easily. It can be a drastic change for many, so it needs careful planning and communication with the positives reinforced and plenty of options for staff to consider. Some employers embrace it; others feel like they have less control. Some employees love it; others need the structure that office life gives them. So, what are the pros and cons?
Hot-desking can’t just be about having fewer workstations to cut costs. It needs to be seen as just one element of a flexible, agile ethos. It also involves evaluating your office hardware in terms of seamless communications infrastructure and compliant, adjustable furniture.
- It unshackles employees from their desks and gives them autonomy over their daily environment
- Employees can become more creative and informed by working alongside colleagues from other departments or teams
- Health and therefore productivity can be boosted by having more mobile employees
- It frees up room for breakout areas and important time away from a screen
- It encourages interdepartmental collaboration and understanding
- People can be creatures of habit, needing the security of their own space
- Teams can be more effective seated together
- It requires plenty of meeting spaces for teams to engage
- Employees need to know how to adapt the desk set-up to suit them physically or risk injury over the long term
- Morale and therefore productivity can drop if it’s not embraced office-wide
Working from home
- Less stress from commuting or business dress or office politics can result in better productivity
- Flexible hours to accommodate commitments such as childcare
- A better work/life balance due to less travel time and distractions
- Promotes trust and loyalty between employee and company and passes responsibility for time management onto the employee
- The employee can set up their optimum workspace, which could even be outside or in a coffee shop if that suits them best
- Communication is more difficult – in an office you can see if someone is at their desk and ask a question
- Interaction and team bonding is slower when you’re not sitting nearby
- Employees poor at self management can be easily distracted, so time tracking software may be required
- It requires good tech knowledge and setup at home as the cloud, video conferencing and productivity software may all be needed
- Corporate culture can be diminished
Overall, having an optional, flexible working policy in place and implemented correctly is an attractive, future-proof stance, giving you access to a wider pool of talent when recruiting. However, it requires investment in planning, communication and hands-on management to get it right.