Hot Desking and the Army

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by shape.when.wet, Feb 17, 2010.

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  1. Apologies if this has been done...

    Was talking to a friend at the weekend who's next posting is to some nice new shiny office in Andover. Where, they are informed, a policy of hot desking has been implemented. It's an SO2 posting if it matters.

    There is an 85% provision of workstations/desks, and the usual no personal items to be left anywhere policy is enforced. If you arrive later than 85% of your colleagues, you are invited to use one of the 'communal laptops' and sit in the 'communal area'.

    A few things struck me. Mostly that this is the Army. The sort like my friend are never late for work, as they have been in the gym (or similar) since 5.50. In theory hot desking is supposed to motivate staff by giving an incentive to arrive promptly and to reduce the level of environmental familiarity to prevent laziness. Which wizard thought this would be a good model for the Army? And, anyone have any experience with it already - does it work, or is it as counter-intuitive as it sounds?
  2. Perhaps some bright young thing has spotted a way to make a 15% saving somewhere?
  3. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Its nothing to do with promoting timeliness but applying pressure on people to work outside of the office using remote access tools

    This depresses occupancy rates which means office sizes can be reduced and charges for office space/heating/telecoms driven down

    Pretty common in the private sector so for some forces jobs I expect the same issues will apply, flexible working etc etc
  4. BA have been doing it for years, as have the NHS.

    Whilst it's an "all-the-rage" thing there is some evidence I read that it doesn't do much for the loyalty of the employee to the employer: having a "desk" or "office" that can be called "your own" is much more conducive to long-term employee retention and thus cost reduction.

  5. Ha ha!

    Tell your friend to, a. Buy his own desk. Then he can put his name tag on it.

    b. Get a proper job in a proper Army Unit rather than a REMF posting.
  6. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    Limited experience of it

    You end up with people getting in earlier and earlier to get "their" desk
  7. mysteron

    mysteron LE Book Reviewer

    Actually 85% is a very high number. Private Sector companies work on a rule of thumb for one desk to 5 people. Regional Vice Presidents (perceive them as 1 or 2 Stars equivalent) of multi billion dollar (Fortune 50 type) companies share desks in open offices.

    4 cost levers in any business. Staff, Real Estate, Overheads and Operational Efficiences.

    Staff is the most expensive followed by Real Estate.

    As Meridian says - less footprint, less overheads, less capital costs = greater Return on Investment / better number on the Bottom Line.

    It is Government departments, particularly the MoD, that is horrendusly behind the curve and not achieving the efficiences it should.
  8. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    It is especially acute if the organisation in mind pays a fixed price per desk, for example, the organisation I work for (no sniggering at the back) have an FM company for their office space and get charged a fixed cost per year per desk and it is no small number.

    Chucking people out by implementing hot desking, flexible working and home working saves a FORTUNE

    Can't see what the problem is, less overheads = more money for bullets :D
  9. I have been working at home for about 5 years now - hence the name.

    I find that I start work at about 07:30 and finish about 18:00 - I also find that I get more done from home than in the office, less noisey, less interruption (socialising, eating, etc.). I feel more relaxed and do not feel cut off from my colleagues. It probably helps that, except for 2, all of the people I deal with for work are outside of UK - generally France/Switzerland and Cairo so it does not matter where I work.

    But there is also a need for self discipline, you need to be able to apply yourself and not get distracted by family - at the moment my daughter is on half term and keeps disturbing me so there is a balance between work and home that can be problematic.

    Being honest I prefer to work at home and if I need to have a face to face with people in the UK I do it in resteraunts half way between me and them.
  10. Own experience of this is in a CS rather than military environment, so there were some cultural differences

    - it was initially uncomfortable, since people instinctively want their 'own' space.

    - it needed a wee bit of coordination in and across teams to allocate desks for the week ahead, but that does away with the 'need to get in at 0500 to get a desk' dimension. There's always the **** retentive who is going to enjoy being OC desks and drawing up elabotate occupancy spreadsheets; better they do this than something important.

    - it only works with good IT and 'follow me' telephony.

    - it wasn't a great drama. Most people got a desk in their team most of the time.

    - it worked because the occupancy rates had been calculated correctly. It creaked some days, but it never broke.

    - it did break down barriers between teams a bit, no bad thing.

    - it increased homeworking slightly, but security considerations prevented this becoming very widespread in core areas - worked fine for HR, finance, etc.

  11. Simple solution: Acquire an injury/back condition. Get a work station assessment. Have a nice shiny expensive chair bought for you etc and then nothing can be adjusted in that work space - Ta Ra!
  12. Interesting point about reducing the level of environmental familiarity to prevent laziness - you may have a point there.

    Although like others said, I thought it was to encourage people to stay at home and work, thus a money saving venture. Although to be honest, I sometimes prefer working at home, and I think it's more conducive to work.

    Although a point of interest, within academia, I'd always heard the term hotdesk used in reference to a desk reserved for visiting researchers etc. Although I suppose there isn't much of that in other industries. Unless you're Ron Hubbard I guess*.

    *spotter point: he has a desk in all Scientology Buildings, apparently.
  13. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    Hot desking done well works. I know of a large organisation where you can book a bank of desks if required for a period of team working, but not block book them so as to make the HD policy redundant. You can call, email, or go on line to book your desk in the way you book an airline seat - you get your pick of the empty ones and can sit near, or avoid, people if you want to.

    On being allocated a desk, your details are automatically updated on the telephone directory and location indicators so other staff can find you if required, and reception can patch through any telephone calls.

    Every employee has a small locker to keep personal items in if they chose, so the small furry animal and photo of the dog can still grace your desk, but only for the day.

    Of course, they have spent the money on the IT and telephone infrastructure to make all this work, and the culture accepts that absence from sight does not equal no work being done. Will the MoD?
  14. Yep, although I usualy work from my room in whatever hotel the company has taken over as a base for operations. It works fine for me and I meet the other blokes at meal times and in the meeting room when required. The rest of the time I am out in the field and work from my 4 x 4, which has power points for charging my laptop, GPS, mobile phone etc.

    The days of the desk and office are dead - for me at any rate.
  15. My bold. Tell me, which Army unit is this; in Andover?

    Sure its not an MOD organisation? And mostly staffed by civilians?

    We have hot-desking at my POW. And flexible working; allowing many staff members to work from home when it suits them. Its great. You can login at any desk in seconds with a swipe card. In practice, there are enough desks to go round and people tend to ask before helping themselves. I have never arrived later than usual to find some spotty herbert at my desk.