I once drove my company car to my company’s office and then drove around the company car park for 20 minutes looking in vain for a parking space. Whereupon I double-parked across a couple of cars, flipped on my hazard lights, and dialled in to my Very Important Meeting.
Half-an-hour later, I drove home to think about my life choices. I then started looking for a new job.
From the moment I entered the workforce back in the early 2000s, I’ve been in open-plan offices with a mandatory hot-desk policy. That means every morning you have to wander around with your laptop, looking for a desk near your team-mates. I get it – I really do – office space is finite and not everyone is in every day. So only having desks for 80% of employee is perfectly rational.
But humans are not rational. In every office that I’ve been in, people choose the same desk again and again. They stick up photos of loved ones, adjust the chair to their liking, set monitor brightness to be comfortable, and know where to find their team-mates. Humans like a bit of predictability in their work day. And no-one wants to start the day stressing about finding a seat.
I opted-out of hotdesking fairly quickly. Due to RSI, I require a special keyboard and mouse. I placed them on my desk and left a note saying “if I’m not in, feel free to use this desk, but please don’t mess with my accessibility equipment.”
That mostly worked. Mostly.
And now we’re in an era when office workers don’t need to go into an office. It’s coming up to a year of enforced WFH for me. And… it’s mostly fine. Mostly.
My employer has generously paid for a desk, monitor, and chair. It’d be nice if they also paid for my broadband – but I’m not churlish enough to get grumpy over it. I don’t start every day panicking over whether I’m going to get a seat, or find a parking space. I appreciate that I’m privileged enough to have enough space at home to work, and a decent employer.
I’d be happy to physically meet up with my team a few times a year. Maybe even as often as monthly.
The big trick is going to be convincing various levels of managers that this is a good thing. Hence my proposal. It’s no longer “Work From Home”; we’re rebranding it to “EXTREME HOTDESKING!!”
Yes, the two exclamation marks are mandatory.
N.B. The earliest reference I can find is this from Linsey Chrisman:
@sarahcchilds @saintevelin I have always worked in what I would term 'extreme hotdesking' situations. Hones your negotiation skills
— Linsey Chrisman (@spoontragedy) September 12, 2012
With these notable follow-ups:
Extreme hotdesking at Dennis: we swap chairs every hour when the alarm goes off. Increases productivity
— Lawrence Allan (@LobAllan) August 1, 2017
I once worked for a company that had gone for an extreme hotdesking solution, which meant that on more than one occasion I’d turn up only to be told to go home again and work there instead as there was literally nowhere for me to sit. It was an extremely obnoxious situation.
— Suw (@Suw) February 18, 2020