Thursday 3 October 2013

Knowle relocation project: hot-desking

Following on from looking at open-plan offices
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: open-plan offices
is the issue of hot-desking:

From hot beds to hot desks

A sailor in his bunk
Hot-desking - the idea that employees don't retain a fixed desk in an office - is a key part of organisations' move towards cheaper, more flexible workplaces. The more employees work from home, the more organisations can shrink their offices to accommodate only the number of people who are in every day.
According to Franklin Becker, a social psychologist at Cornell University, the idea came from the navy. On a ship there are far fewer bunks than there are sailors. When a seaman ended his shift he would get into a bed that has just been vacated, and would still be warm. Or perhaps, if the previous occupant had a fever, hot.
In North America, the term is not thought very appealing. Increasingly the word used is not "hot-desking" but "hotelling".
BBC News - The pleasures and perils of the open-plan office

The efficient use of office space by having employees share desks and other facilities seems to make sense. 
For example, Seaton Town Council has considered the usefulness of hot-desking:

On behalf of Seaton’s Voice, Mrs Manley thanked Members for their positive comments and support. Concerns from STC were acknowledged and it was hoped that they could embrace the notion of the Group’s ‘virtual office’ and ‘hot desk’ proposal with regard to the Town Manager, whom, it was envisaged, would spend a great deal of time out of the office.


This is an idea which has come from the private sector, offering a flexible, cheap alternative to renting office space:


And here's a very interesting overview:
How productive is hot desking? - Blog - Knowledge Hub

And indeed, the Dept for Communities is encouraging this trend:

17. Hot-desking, estate rationalisation and sub-letting: By moving to hotdesking across the main floors of its headquarters in Eland House, DCLG 
has freed up space which has been let to other organisations35, saving 
money. The Planning Inspectorate has vacated one floor of its Bristol 
office that is now being sublet. The Homes and Communities Agency has 
reduced its accommodation costs by 49% (£6.5 million) through 
rationalisation of its estates and facilities requirements. Councils should 
undertake a comprehensive review of accommodation costs and identify 
savings through rationalisation, sub-letting and early lease breaks. 
Southwark Borough Council introduced Hot-desking as part of an attempt 
to develop modern and cheaper office accommodation. The programme 
overall has freed up 27 properties and managed to save about £55m.36


The District Council's proposals for relocating from Knowle focus on calculations that fewer desks will be necessary in future:

7.0 New Build Office Running Costs
7.1 Calculation of anticipated running costs of a new build office assumes the following:- 
2. The number of staff employed in the new facility will remain at the current level. It is 
understood desk spaces will be reduced to allow for modern working practices.

4.0.0 Office accommodation requirements 
4.1.0 Engagement
4.1.6 The Corporate Organisational Development Manager is investigating the 
potential for staff to work in more mobile and flexible ways. Work Smart is 
the council’s name for its home, mobile and flexible working arrangements 
for staff which will be developed through the Council’s management team 
and subject to consultation with staff and fit with operational requirements. It 
will involve more staff working away from the office or dividing their time 
between the office and another location. In doing so EDDC hopes to have a 
more flexible workforce and service delivery available and accessible to 
customers around the district. More desks can be shared, storage space 
reduced, communal and shared space more effectively provided and less 
traditional office space overall will be required. Initial staff survey work, 
Member requirements and office layout planning has resulted in an office 
size projection that involves a mix of communal space, meeting space, 
reception area, 250 desks and Council specific space such as the Council 
Chamber itself. This leads to an overall total floor space of 3,352m2. 
Further detailed operational and design work will be conducted to refine the 
mix and usage of that space. 

However, the question has been raised as to why the resulting reduction in office space through such innovations cannot also be accommodated at the current site at Knowle:

The 1973 offices plus the upper floor of the Chamber building could comfortably house all EDDC’s office staff, with ‘hot desking’ and home-working allowing part-timers and transient office users to be housed economically.

Futures Forum: "A truly green alternative to EDDC's proposal"

South Somerset District Council have simply reduced the number of offices at their headquarters - rather than building new premises to move into:

1st March 2013

SOUTH SOMERSET: County making progress with money-saving office scheme

PROGRESS is being made by Somerset County Council in plans to save millions of pounds by reducing its number of offices, as part of its “Smart Office” programme.

View From Online - News from West Dorset, East Devon & South Somerset

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