Productivity in the UK has increasingly become a focal point for researchers and news broadcasters over the last decade. The most recent report from the Office of National Statistics (Oct 2019) worryingly revealed that productivity had fallen at its fastest annual pace in five years. Factors contributing to this decline are complex and varied, however, commercial ‘cultures’ and ‘environments’ play a pivotal role in output and productivity. 

As businesses across all sectors look to study, streamline and evolve their ‘customer experience’ to ensure growth in their markets, more and more evidence suggests that the ‘employee experience’ is just as important. Within sectors that see sluggish productivity levels, could a different working environment boost employee performance? 

Though the practice of hot-desking is relatively common amongst market-leaders and SME’s, it’s still taboo for many companies. Some firms hesitate to make changes to their commercial ‘DNA,’ envisaging a complicated culture-shift too drastic or logistically complex for their workforce. 

However, it is worth considering the role that hot-desking plays on the formative and educational years of each employee before they join the company. A graduate who becomes an employee would have typically experienced hot desking for a decade, but when joining the working world immediately becomes restricted to an assigned space and team.

Universities and schools have had to embrace the digital revolution and the flexible nature of modern learning styles to stay up to date with the culture of their young people, particularly around technology. As a result, working in an ‘agile’ way isn’t a new concept to the graduate or school leaver. One could argue that the notions of ‘collaborative working’ and ‘dynamic approaches’ are more prevalent in universities and sixth forms than they are in many established companies. Up until employment, students are incredibly familiar with changing their space of work to meet a specific task or project. Teams around them would have been changing constantly as their subject matter varies. It could, therefore, be counter-cultural for employers to limit the space, tools and teams of new starters in the company. 

Sarah Morton at Extentia Group said: “Findings within our recent report “Overcoming the UK’s Productivity Challenge”, suggest that hot desking can drive agile and flexible working, helping to boost productivity and engagement level. However, it is imperative that businesses seek expert advice and take their time to find a solution that is fit for purpose. It is not simply enough to send a group email on a Friday afternoon announcing the introduction of hot desking on the following Monday morning. It is vital that managers carefully evaluate the mechanics of their current workspaces, the size and behaviours of their workforces, and the equipment they must incorporate.”

To download the Extentia report ‘Morning Larks vs Night Owls: Overcoming the UK’s Productivity Challenge’, please click here


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