Are your hot-desks working hard enough? The public sector view.

Thanks to an ambitious government estate strategy, public sector organisations are under serious pressure to deliver smart working initiatives to drive down overheads. Between 2010 and 2014 the government reduced overall running costs by £625 million a year and programmes like One Public Estate and The Way We Work continue to drive cost reductions through better use of office space.

A key part of this strategy has been the introduction of flexible working and desk sharing standards in the government sector. We’re now widely familiar with the supposed benefits of open plan and flexible workspace strategies, such as increased opportunities for collaboration and decreased overheads, but are they worth the costs?

A recent report from Steelcase shows that hot-desking could be contributing to lower employee engagement and productivity. Worryingly according to the report more than one third of workers in 17 of the world’s most important economies are disengaged and more than 10% of global workers are highly dissatisfied with their workplace.

So how do organisations in the public sector take advantage of the efficiencies provided by hot-desks while maintaining employee engagement?

We won’t pretend to have all the answers but here are some tips we’ve picked up along the way…

1. Give employees a choice

Attitudes to workspace and workstyles are constantly evolving. It’s up to employers to keep up. In the public sector managing the cultural shift attached to new ways of working is particularly crucial in order to keep staff satisfied and retain top talent.

The Steelcase report shows that the most highly engaged employees tend to be those that have the highest degree of control over how and where they work. That doesn’t mean we all have to rip our offices apart and rebuild them according to our interpretation of a Silicon Valley office (as fun as that could be…).

However, we should try to make the most of our workspace, in a way that’s valuable to everyone. Moving to hot-desking is a great way to make the most of office space but can be perceived by employees as the organisation taking away ownership of their desks. Give something back to employees by providing them with a choice of flexible working areas designed to meet different needs: private individual areas, meeting rooms designed for collaboration and breakout areas alongside hot-desks. This is an approach to workspace best known as activity-based working (ABW). Similar to hot-desking, ABW is based on desk sharing in order to maintain lower costs and make better use of office capacity but with more emphasis on meeting the needs of every employee throughout their working day.

Have a meeting with a focus on creative brainstorming?

No problem.

Need to take a private call without leaving the office?

Easy.

Need to relax for a moment and take a break away from a screen?

We encourage it!

Remember:

Take away desk ownership.

Give your employees new and interesting places to work instead.

2. The only way to do it right is with the right technology

Beyond a choice of environment organisations need to provide the right technology to enable employees to be productive such as a sufficient internet connection and speed over Wi-Fi, extra screens to work from when necessary and charging points for employee devices.

Despite the mobile revolution the Steelcase report found that the vast majority of workers worldwide still use fixed technology at work with 86% of workers being provided with a landline telephone, and 80% with a desktop computer. Compare that to the 39% of employees who are equipped with a mobile phone or laptop and 14% with a tablet.

That’s not to say that new approaches to working require every employee has access to brand new cutting-edge devices. But a flexible approach to desk infrastructure can seriously inhibit productivity if employees don’t have access to the right tools to allow them to plug in and work at any desk.

Consider whether your device strategy will need to change as a result of a flexible approach to workspace. Does your company already have a BYOD or CYOD strategy in place?

How do you plan to support that at shared desks?

Targus Universal Docking Stations are a one size fits all solution, allowing employees to sit down at any desk and plug in one USB cable to their device for connection to the network, extra screens and desk accessories. So they can get straight to work. No time wasted, no strain on IT. Targus Docks are the only Universal Docking solution to offer integrated power, helping your employees to stay charged up when they are in the office and avoid downtime when they’re not. Unique software also ensures that anyone plugged into a Targus Docking Station will automatically be switched to the Ethernet network, decreasing the burden on Wi-Fi bandwidth in that area.

“What about USB-C though?” we hear you cry… The introduction of new USB-C devices has the potential to add vast complexity to management of shared desks and workspace. That’s why IT departments everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief when they hear about the Targus Multiplexer and Hydra Cable. Designed to help organisations support a mixed estate of USB-A and USB-C devices these two accessories can be attached to any Targus Powered Docking Station.

Perfect for companies whose employees bring different laptop brands to work, the Hydra Power Cable allows you to power up to three different brands or models of laptop at one desk. To ensure desks are always ready for the next user you simply attach any three tips from a Targus Powered Docking Station. Meanwhile the Multiplexer adds support for the latest USB-C devices. Allowing you to maintain flexibility and modernise devices without committing to a costly upgrade to your Docking estate.

3. Strike a balance

Ultimately a productive office will look different for every organisation, public or private sector. It depends on the space you have access to as well as the people you employ. Design experts say office design should focus on flexibility, functionality and beauty. We think there’s one thing missing from that: Comfort. No employee will be at the top of their game while feeling discomfort, from the chair they sit in, to the amount of visual privacy they have and these issues will be magnified at shared desks.

Try to strike a balance between what everyone needs and will be comfortable with. Provide Privacy Screens for desktop monitor, laptop and tablet screens. Educate employees about the benefits of a good sitting posture and encourage them to take regular breaks from looking at a screen.

At the end of the day hot-desking might look good for your bottom line but you better think twice if you think you’re doing your employees a favour at the same time. Make sure the office is still an appealing place to come and work or you might find your employees working from home or not at all!

Let’s Talk Targus

Targus have been protecting and connecting technology for more than 30 years and work with 90% of the Fortune 1000 companies. We serve the growing business need for a connected agile workforce and provide universal solutions compatible with all major OEM brands to ensure any device can be connected into productive workspaces.

We pride ourselves on staying ahead of the technology curve and offer brand agnostic advice when our public and private-sector partners need it most: hardware refreshes, moving to activity-based working or office restructuring. Leveraging several successes within the government sector we can help you to protect your investment, from the people who work for you to the technology you provide them with.

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