Coworking 101: Five Hot Desking Myths Busted (or Hot Desking for Hoarders)

I am what is commonly described as a Things Person. I collect everything from vintage glassware sets to wooden cow statues, carry an oversized handbag stuffed with all manner of items and ascribe to the saying “more is more”. My home studio is an homage to Yves Saint Laurent, a desk piled with books and every kind of thin nibbed black biro imaginable in little glass jars for easy reaching. 

Every time I feel bad about wanting a desk covered in stuff I just think about how Yves Saint Laurent had a desk like this. 

Every time I feel bad about wanting a desk covered in stuff I just think about how Yves Saint Laurent had a desk like this. 

It would probably surprise you that I freaking love the clear-desk, non-anchored mentality of hot desking.

Coworking in general has been an eye opener. The past me was used to having a quiet nook to call my own; I thought my productivity was rooted in solitude and a door that I could close behind me. It surprised even me, when in my first week in the flexible working environment at GridAKL that not only was I just as productive there… but my work was better. It was more rounded out by  my daily experiences, and being able to turn my monitor to the person next to me and ask “What do you think?”

This week the BizDojo team at GridAKL gave up our permanent desks, and nothing terrible happened. In fact it changed a lot of my views on stuff. It turns out hot desks (the sort of desks in a  coworking environment where you bring your stuff in at the beginning of the day and pack it all away at the end of it) are pretty neat. Even for someone with as many hang-ups as me. 


HOT DESKING MYTHS - SMASHED

1. MYTH - My work means I have too much stuff! I can't possibly pack it all up at the end of the day and bring it home…
I’m a designer so I have the prerequisite 'giant monitor, weird mouse, 45 pens' set-up that most designers have. The process of hot desking has helped me evaluate what parts of my kit were essential and which parts were just random stuff that I was dragging around for no reason. My monitor goes into the monitor storage at the end of the night, and my extra stuff i don't want to take home goes in my locker. Easy.  

2. MYTH - Without a permanent desk I can't make a space my own.
Grabbing a desk and calling it yours does mean it's easier to plaster it with photos of the kids, but just because you are on a desk that gets cleared at the end of the night doesn't mean it can’t scream your name. I have a little tin that holds a bunch of trinkets, a mini bottle of my fav perfume, a solar powered dancing bear, a tiny ugly plastic dog and a totoro figurine. At the beginning of the day I unpack them onto my desk, fill the tin with my pens and phone, and my space feels entirely mine. Basically it is what you make of it.
 

                                   This is my actual desk. Actually.

                                   This is my actual desk. Actually.

3. MYTH - I won't be able to concentrate. 
Just like working at a traditional pod, you have your quiet moments and your crazy ones. I can zone out by putting my earbuds in or just work as part of the free flow of the space. My work is still getting done, although my conversations are better - spurred on by a changing sea of new faces across the table. BizDojo have hot desks scattered across both social areas and quieter ones so it's a bit of a case of horses for courses.

     No one is going to do this next to you whilst hot desking, don't worry. 

     No one is going to do this next to you whilst hot desking, don't worry. 

4. MYTH - There is no point when I can work at my kitchen table for free.
My last freelancer gig meant that I could grab a desk in the workroom of the label I was working whenever I wanted. Prior to this I had always kind of enjoyed working at home, in bed, with a cup of tea and an everlasting pile of toast. What I noticed when I went to a place other than my house to work is that I was far more productive - and it turns out this is something backed up by research:

“According to research by global workspace provider Regus of 2,200 business owners and senior managers, 81% respondents found flexible working as a way of improving productivity.” More here

My work also became a place for work, and my home which was previously a place for knowing-I-should-be-working-but-lamenting-my-lack-of-work-whilst-watching-Bobs-Burgers became my space again. I started writing for pleasure and drawing again not because I had a commission but because I had the space to do truly personal projects. And I said goodbye to the guilty feeling I had for not filling every moment at home with work.

                                            Real talk, working at home is not like this. 

                                            Real talk, working at home is not like this. 

5. MYTH - Hot desking doesn't work for teams.
I have heard this a bit in the past, and I do wonder if the people that say this do not have a person with a ridiculous laugh (me) or sales/marketing person on their team. No matter what kind of business you have, some of those folks are going to be louder, more energetic, more prone to disruption or frankly in search of a slightly different vibe than the rest of your team. So why not have an option for hot desking so they can self-select their working style? Our entire team is on hot-desks now, so we can work together like a little unit or take ourselves off to a quiet corner for concentrated working... and when I laugh like a cackling witch my co-workers have a socially acceptable reason to move away from me. 


Anya works in brand & communications for BizDojo, spending most of her time working on GridAKL. Her favourite episode of Bobs Burgers is the one with the Capybara, and you can find her on twitter here