At some point in our adult life, we were expected to accept the 9-5 office position with a desk in front of a stationary computer. However, just months before this assumed transition, we were getting our school work done laying on a bed, papers sprawled about with music blasting in the background. Alternatively, we were in a library setting, often choosing which seat had the best lighting, or could fit as many friends as possible at one table, or had enough outlets to power all the devices that needed a charge. Whatever the situation, we had the freedom to work how and where we wanted, without conforming to the workplace expectation. What if the office finally caught on, and our employers listened to our past college selves, and let their employees choose their own work setting again?
This concept is called hoteling, hot desking, free address, or activity-based working. No assigned seats, no boring cubicles, but rather spaces where employees are actually comfortable, and the resources they need are readily available. It began with employees wanting more flexible hours. “Longer hours do not necessarily make workers more productive,” and then employers realized that productivity stemmed from employees feeling comfortable in their locations. That’s when designers started helping companies to begin “….revamping its notion of the workplace” (Market Watch The new office floorplans: flexible or demoralizing?” 2019).
Hoteling is a practice in workspaces that allows for employees to reserve a space and resources they need in the office on a non-permanent basis. Hot desking is where employees are able to come and go freely, with no assigned space. Co-workers can reclaim their old habits and work how they feel accustomed to, and how they used to get their best work done. Activity-based working is an office space that has a variety of settings, from couches, to desks, to formal conference rooms, back to comfy chairs and hammock swings. These methods have been proven to save the office real estate finances and save money on resources because less space and materials are needed when the employees are only using the space and things they need, not what they are assigned. As an added bonus, less space and resources call for more environmentally greener workplaces as well.
With this new wave of non-conforming work environments, productivity and employee satisfaction has peeked. Who would have thought your college self had it right this entire time?
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