We are against it: what scares office workers in the new flexible offices

January 17th, 2021 • 6 min read
Blog We are against it: what scares office workers in the new flexible offices
Blog We are against it: what scares office workers in the new flexible offices

Offices change, and any changes are always stressful, especially for office workers, who often strive for a comfort zone. It is understandable because the office is a second home. The old coffee machine was better! Give me back my Windows 95 computer! I won't be working in Trello, I have a notebook! * submits a report on a floppy disk*. Yes, that is exaggerated, but the point is this. Office employees are not Tsoy; they do not like change. But business, in order to survive, needs to change in time and optimize what can be optimized. That is why business owners are delighted with flexible office systems and space booking solutions: the savings are obvious, plus there are other benefits of technology and digitalization. And their employees, as a rule, want to leave everything as it is.

I'm stressed out

In the comments to articles about flexible offices and hot desking, there are always two groups of people:

  • Business owners and top management. They ask specific questions about the way how organizing flexible office space may help.
  • Employees of companies. They fear changes, stress, and the deterioration of working conditions and their performance.

What exactly are employees afraid of?

  • Extra actions and time spent: you need to book a desk before you come to work.

It seems that the complexity of the task is overestimated: the entire process (depending on the booking system) will take no more than 3 minutes. According to the calculations of British scientists (!), which are referred to by the Financial Times, an employee collectively takes 2 weeks a year to find a job. That's about an hour and a half a day. Are you ready to believe in such statistics?

  • New neighbors every time

And again, it is a small exit from the comfort zone. If the company is large, there is a great chance to meet people with whom you are not regularly familiar. But let's find the benefits: new acquaintances, and possibly real-life Tinder. There is an analyst (I did not check the reliability) who claims that in companies where hot desking is implemented, the number of “corporate marriages " is 20% higher than in companies with classic seating arrangements

  • Self-expression is prohibited

Photo frames, plants, elephant figurines and so on now should be stored in lockers. But no one forbids you to arrange all your belongings in the morning and put them in the locker in the evening. 

  • Reduced productivity

This fear is irrational. It is a common fear of the unknown. Changing jobs has a positive effect on productivity. Just try it. Unfortunately, minimalism in the workplace is also the procrastinator’s enemy. The fewer things on the desk, the less likely people are to be distracted by something. Well, do not forget that all the above concerns aremere trifles compared to the stress of performing direct duties. And for gamblers — it is an interesting quest.

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Adaptation period

It cannot be avoided. Sometimes, companies jump into the pool with their heads and apply the most radical practices of hot-desking: cleaning up the room, fining for violations.

We at UnSpot, producing and implementing software for flexible offices, have come to the conclusion that we need to act gently and iteratively:

  • Do not make all desks “hot" at once.
  • Leave the fixed desks to those employees who objectively need them. For example, assistant managers and accountants.
  • Organize convenient places for storing personal items.
  • Deal with violations calmly — they are inevitable at first. At the same time, remind your employees of the importance of observing the hot desking culture.

Innovations always cause some protest

  • Elevators without lifters
  • Phones without switches
  • Carts without horses
  • Stores without cashiers
  • Car sharing and subscription cars instead of personal transport
  • Voice messages instead of calls :)

You could continue this list for a long time. The bottom line is that at first innovation meets resistance, and then it becomes the norm of everyday life. It's the same with flexible offices.

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