Hot Desking: How It Can Make You Sick and What You Can Do About It

in this page

Are you the sort of business owner that adopts every productivity hack that comes down the line? Hot desking is one that promises to improve collaboration and foster community among your staff, all while saving you money.

But what if it makes your employees sick?

What is hot desking?

Hot desking is the practice of having everyone work in an open office format, with no assigned office or cubicles for anyone. Workspaces are available on a rotational basis, with all of the equipment shared.

The benefits here are apparent. Rental and equipment costs are significantly reduced. There’s a better utilisation of the office space. 

There are even residual positives for employees who may feel more empowered by the flexibility of the arrangement. It breaks down the hierarchy. Everyone can choose where they sit.

What they aren’t choosing is to become ill.

The evidence

According to a survey done by Initial Washroom, the average office desk has somewhere in the vicinity of ten million microbes on it at the end of the work day. This is when just one person uses it.

Multiply this by two or more people. The study found at the end of several months that hot desking increased exposure to illness-causing germs by 18 percent.

This is compounded by the relatively poor hygiene practices of most people. The same survey found that 61 percent of people in the UK do not wash their hands before eating. 

With hot desking, the workspaces are twice as dirty and people are neglecting to keep their hands clean after touching them.

What can you do?

A healthy office is a clean one

Keeping the office environment clean is the first line of defence against the illness hot desking practices can cause.

Hot desk workspaces should be cleaned with greater frequency than regular ones. Because hot desking raises the stakes, this is an activity you should allow ample time for.

Hot desk areas should be cleaned after every shift or cycle of use. You should use a professional cleaning company that has established protocols for this on a regular basis as well as cleaning some of the items yourself inbetween their visits.

Special attention should be paid to the computer keyboard, the mouse and phones since these are the most likely to be touched and habour viruses and bacteria.

Proximity gets employees sick

Hot desking brings everyone closer together. The problem is that this is too close to prevent the spread of illness-causing viruses. Transmission that might have been reduced by distance and partitions can now occur freely.

Social distancing is a practice that should remain in hot desking situations, even though the immediate danger posed by COVID-19 has passed. Space desks out in a way that continues to facilitate work collaboration, without increasing the spread of disease.

If possible, cut down on the number of employees that work on any one shift as well.

Involve employees

Your workers are concerned about the health risks they’re exposed to. Remember, they have families to go home to, many of whom may be vulnerable to infection.

Make them partners in your efforts to reduce the spread of disease. You should provide them with sanitizers, wipes, sprays, and whatever else they might need to keep their work area clean.

Your office hygiene policy should be clearly defined and easily available for them to review and, more importantly, follow to keep everyone safe.

Consider reviewing your policies on attending work while sick. This will prevent illnesses from spreading to the rest of your staff. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a busy period with three-quarters of the office home with the flu.

Working and running a business is hard enough without worrying about how you’re going to prevent everyone from becoming sick. Let us take that weight off your shoulders. Talk to us to find out what you can do to promote a hygienic office environment. Call us at 0141-374-2869 for advice on regular professional cleans and our office cleaning packs that provide your staff with the products they need to keep their workspace clean and healthy every day.

Wondering how to get your equipment properly clean?