Feb 12, 2024

Learn The Essentials of Desk Sharing Etiquette

When working 9-5, it is easy to get used to a certain routine, but it can also leave employees feeling unmotivated and uninspired. The good news is there is a solution for workplaces that want to foster creativity and collaboration: a flexible office. Desk sharing has become one of the cornerstones of the flexible office. When employees are able to book a preferred desk for the day, it will be easier to implement the hybrid work model. How do you ensure that everything runs smoothly and establish a rock-solid desk-sharing etiquette? Keep reading to find out more.

Desk sharing at a glance 

Desk sharing, or hot desking, means that employees can reserve different desks instead of having a permanent desk in a traditional office space. It is possible to select a new seat every day.

When they no longer need the desk, it becomes available to someone else, the next day or the next week, depending on how long the person has booked the desk in question. This type of desk booking system is useful for hybrid employees who might work at home on Monday and Tuesday and go to the office on Wednesday.

Usually, desk booking is made possible in an app or desk reservation tool where bookings can be made anywhere, as long as there is internet access.

The benefits of desk sharing

Desk sharing is a great solution for companies that wish to attract talented individuals with a flexible and responsible attitude. Since collaboration is key, flexible desk sharing is more important than ever. It means that employees can be seated in different workspaces and decide whether they want to sit next to regular teammates or team up with a new colleague for the day.

Besides flexibility, employees can expect a desk equipped with all the necessary devices. When space managers are able to monitor desk usage daily and over a longer time period, they can ensure that the space is well-maintained and welcoming. By being mindful of the spaces people share every day, motivation and productivity will increase.

Long-term benefits include a right-sized office where all office spaces are used more efficiently. This has become increasingly important after the pandemic, when people started working both at home and in the office. The need for a permanent desk has decreased, and desk sharing is on the rise.

The possible struggles with desk sharing

One of the problems with desk sharing is of course keeping the place neat, tidy and clean. 

Since many employees use the same desk, it is necessary to stop the spread of germs. Just consider how many surfaces you touch every day at work. Handles, tables and technical devices. And coffee cups.

After COVID-19, people have become aware of following hygiene protocols and using hand sanitizer and hand soap more frequently. No one wants to be reminded of the person who used the desk before them, especially if they were sneezing from a heavy cold or touching the keyboard with sticky fingers.

Another aspect is finding a suitable desk. At Flowscape, we are devoted to making desk sharing easier with the help of a desk booking app. Do not hesitate to discover user-friendly features that give you a nice overview of the office floors and allow you to make razor-sharp decisions.

Office space for everyone

Desk sharing is a great option, but shouldn’t be the only option. Depending on their task for the week, people might prefer other arrangements. Here are some other alternatives:

  • Meeting rooms for project briefings and collaborative team work
  • Conference rooms for training, team building exercises and keynote speakers
  • Work pods for solo-deep work
  • A collaboration space in an open lounge area

However, desk spaces with shared desks can definitely be the foundation of a hybrid office. Just make sure to offer other spaces as well.

What is the etiquette of a shared workspace?

Besides considering the next budget, you should also strive to create the best office environment possible. With a flexible office solution, it is equally important to take responsibility for keeping the workspaces nice and tidy. Here are some examples of desk etiquette.

Keep it simple

Since employees share desks with many different individuals, it is advisable to leave the desk as clean as possible for the next person who comes along. Stress the need for picking up private belongings such as pens, notebooks, and bags. Remove crumbs or paper piles to reduce visible clutter.

For space managers or team leaders, it is a good idea to create a checklist with etiquette rules to ensure that people at least make the minimum effort to restore the workspace afterward. Some examples include emptying the trash can, turning off the computer, and removing coffee stains from the surface.

All heavy coffee drinkers know these things can get carried away, and any traces of the crime should be removed. Jokingly aside: don’t make a mess!

Be on good terms

Work is serious business, but that doesn’t mean that people can’t put on a friendly smile for a coworker sitting next to them. Thanks to desk sharing, people are able to meet new coworkers on a daily basis and take the opportunity to network and help each other out.

In return, a friendly and welcoming attitude goes a long way. Try not to form cliques and welcome new people to the workspace. You're in the same boat - make the trip a good one!

Respect other team members and colleagues

While we are on the topic of respect: being mindful of personal hygiene in an open space is also a must. When seated next to colleagues, it can be troubling if there is a strong odor or perfume. Some people are allergic to strong scents and dog/cat hair. Let people know that they should respect a colleague who has any kind of allergy.

If there are complaints about a person's hygiene, the sensitive issue should be dealt with discreetly and addressed in general terms. Other issues on the same topic include eating food by the computer or chewing loudly.

Stay in your lane

Desk sharing is liked by many, but there are employees who are used to the old-school way of doing things, including having their own personal desk. Therefore, they run the risk of becoming territorial even when using a shared desk and spreading their belongings around. Some might even take up more desk space than actually needed, putting papers and phones on the desk next to them.

We do understand it’s easy to get comfortable, and old habits die hard. To reduce misunderstandings and discontent, we advise you to set up a boundary between the public and private space associated with a certain desk in the office.

Keep it silent

Many people enjoy great pop music but should refrain from singing along loudly to Madonna’s Like a Prayer in the office, unless it’s part of a team-building activity. This is especially important when it comes to desk sharing. In an open workspace, people run the risk of disturbing other employees if the volume is turned up too high.

Our advice is to use headphones, preferably with noise cancellation, since you might want to work in solitude as well. Don’t get the wrong idea; the workplace doesn’t have to be completely silent, we would say it is almost impossible. That being said, everyone would want to keep noise levels down.

Givers gain

A shared desk usually has a basic setup, such as a keyboard, screen, and mouse. Let the employees know what they can expect to find at each station.

However, if they are in need of other equipment, such as a recording device, iPad, or sketch pad, it is a great idea for them to bring those items themselves. Make sure to inform them where to go to find extra cords, adapters, and USB ports.

Wave goodbye to germs

We all recognize that sinking feeling when a colleague next to you sneezes loudly and looks like they would be better off at home in bed, watching Netflix. Encourage people to be respectful of their colleagues and avoid working in an open space if they are feeling a little bit under the weather.

Sometimes working remotely is better to prevent the spread of germs. Space managers need to be aware of the upcoming cold and flu season and increase the maintenance and cleaning of the facilities. Another option is to provide more hand sanitizers and tissues on each desk.

Collaborate easily

Sharing desks is a great way to collaborate and have a chat with peers. However, it is easy to get carried away and discuss private matters openly. No one wants to hear about Betty’s old uncle Hank who just got divorced if they don’t know him personally.

One idea is to place an open workspace with shared desks next to a lunchroom or social lounge where people can easily go to have breaks and share a few stories. Why not design a lounge with different seating, a coffee machine, and some nice, lo-fi music?

Implementing desk sharing - is it worth a try?

Desk sharing can certainly open doors for your employees and drive company growth. As long as everyone sticks to the etiquette stated in a desk sharing policy and respects their colleagues, there are a number of advantages. Most people become more creative if they have a change of scenery, and it can also be stress-reducing.

Luckily, there are also practical tools available to simplify desk booking, such as apps and workplace analytics. They will most likely benefit both space managers and employees and put a smile on the face of the CEO (or so we would like to believe).

Seeking guidance on how to set up your hybrid office for success?

Don't hesitate to schedule a meeting with one of our product experts. They can provide valuable insights into our solutions and how technology can help streamline your office processes without disrupting employees' daily work.

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