Hotdesking: Practice What You Preach

We champion hotdesking, both for its social, collaborative nature and for the flexibility it allows for our residents and for us as a coworking operator. Our Active Membership base is a cornerstone of our community. We encourage our Permanent residents (those with fixed desks) to use soft furnishings, standing desks, breakout spaces, and focus pods as this helps with focus and physical wellbeing.

But as a BizDojo staff member, I recently realised that I rarely do this. The longer I’ve been at the Dojo, as my workload has increased and particularly as it has begun to centre around larger project-based tasks, I have become more static in where I work. I may occasionally move to the balcony if I need to do some writing, but I rarely work from a breakout space or the large bar leaners in the kitchen anymore. I don’t even use meeting rooms for quiet space.

This is something I knew I wanted to change for two reasons: one, moving around benefits my own productivity. Two, due to the nature of our building layout, I literally do not see who or what is happening in other parts of our space.

Two weeks ago, on a whim, totally not pre-meditated, I decided to grab a desk in a different part of the office alongside GloryLeague. The decision was triggered by a meeting I’d had with their CEO; it had devolved into just chatting about his team and bouncing ideas off each other for what kind of cool installations they could get involved in around the city. And I remembered how much I liked talking to him.

So instead of leaving the meeting room and going back to the other side of the space, I stayed with the GloryLeague team. I spent a solid few hours working there, with their team chatter washing over me and occasionally opening up to solicit opinion or reaction from myself and the others working in the area.

It was productive. It was stimulating. It gave me an appreciation for how cold it could be on their side of the office. I saw their team dynamics in action. And I had a handle on what their current challenges and successes were, not because I was specifically asking, but because I was simply immersed on their conversations as a backdrop to my work.

It got me thinking about why its so important for us, as staff generally but community staff in particular, to work from different parts of our coworking space.

  • It gives you first hand experience with any challenges that residents face in particular parts of the space. Heating, lighting, airflow, noise, foot traffic - put yourself in your residents shoes. Maybe they don’t just have bad circulation; maybe it’s genuinely cold where they are. (#thestruggleisreal)
  • It (re)connects you with residents you may not otherwise come into regular social contact with. For example: I regularly see the GloryLeague team in the kitchen, at the printer, in the shared collision spaces that are essential to team function. But that gives me very little insight into how they work, what they’re working on, and where the team dynamic is at. Being near them in their ‘natural environment’, so to speak, provides a familiarity and baseline understanding of their needs that I otherwise would not have.
  • It ensures that your interactions with certain residents are not only negative ones. This one is VERY important. If all your interactions with a resident have to do with chasing late payment, mediating their demands for more space, asking them to clean up after themselves, etc, your relationship with them inevitably becomes tainted. You don’t want to only be talking to residents when you need something, and vice versa. Your relationship with them should be more than transactional in order to be healthy.
  • As per the article I linked to above, moving to different spaces to work on particular tasks works wonders for a lot of people as far as focus goes. Nuff said.  
  • It exposes you to different ways of working. Whether that’s watching someone next to you use a Pomodoro timer, a Kanban board, a standup meeting tactic, or communication patterns, it shows you tools that you may find useful for your own team and it encourages a general understanding of the diverse ways that people work. And that, after all, is what coworking is all about.

Sarin is the Community Manager for BizDojo Auckland. Follow her on Twitter.