Hot Desking Health and Safety During COVID-19
By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
Coronavirus has even the most rational employees thinking long and hard about their health and wellness while at work. The pandemic is still active and ongoing, and time spent in a busy workplace is a consistent reminder for many people—especially when it comes to use of shared facilities. It’s reasonable to understand the concerns many employees have about hot desking health and safety.
Are hot desks safe? What can employers do to make them safe? What should employees do to keep shared spaces hygienic? It’s easy to rattle off tangential concerns. Thankfully, it’s just as easy to put those concerns to rest with a proactive, transparent, thorough hot desking policy during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s everything employers and their staff need to be aware of.
Are hot desks safe during COVID-19?
Hot desking during coronavirus may seem counterintuitive, but it has the possibility to be an extremely hygienic option when approached correctly.
The obvious concern is the constant stream of people utilizing the same space throughout the day. A hot desk might welcome anywhere from a single occupant to eight or more throughout the day. And while they’re never there together, each new presence brings the potential for new germs. Disinfection between occupants is a must. A simple solution for many companies is to build in 15-30-minute increments between users, to sanitize and sterilize.
The other major safety concern to address arises when there’s a confirmed case of coronavirus in the workplace. Contact tracing needs to be a priority, starting with shared spaces. Develop a system of record to know who occupied a desk, when, and for how long.
Despite obvious concerns about shared space, there are some less obvious benefits worth noting. For example, contact tracing can actually be easier if there’s a system or record that spans the entire office. Likewise, hot desks can be a better way to utilize space safely as employees phase back into the workplace—rotating through space instead of commingling within it. There’s also a simplicity in sanitizing and sterilizing hot desks per an SOP or standardized work order.
Hot desking—like any aspect of the workplace in the current climate—is subject to success with the right oversight. If you can keep your employees safe and make them feel safe, hot desking presents opportunities for a safe return to work and a transition back to productive normalcy.
Tips for hot desking safety
Every workplace faces different obstacles as employees return to work. Hot desking safety hinges largely on how facilities managers adapt their hot desking options and oversee employee interaction with them. Transforming traditional spaces into hot desks or limiting occupancy alone aren’t enough to make the concept work.
Below are a few tips to consider as you ponder hot desks as a space-efficient solution during COVID-19. Strive to implement as many as possible to cover the various aspects of hot desking safety and standardization.
- Space hot desk workstations six feet apart or more
- Stagger shifts and schedules to dilute workplace density
- Buffer time for cleaning between hot desk occupants
- Create robust cleaning protocol for each hot desk
- Delegate and create a system for hot desk disinfection
- Set capacity limits for rooms with multiple workstations
- Revise floor plans to create new hot desking areas
Combine these hot desking safety tips with other coronavirus policies for maximum benefit—such as employee self-screenings or guidelines for face coverings. Emphasize hot desking in the context of COVID-19 workplace best practices, to create spaces that are socially distant, frequently disinfected, and monitored in the event of an outbreak.
For hot desking to be effective, it can’t be too cumbersome for employees. Build safe protocols and standards that are also simple. A cleaning buffer. Sign-in and sign-out processes. Constant review and adjustment of floor plans. Little efforts add up to big benefits.
Use hot desks to facilitate a safe return to work
A hot desking return to work may actually be one of the safest if undertaken correctly. Keep employees distant and separated. Clean workspaces thoroughly. Create a system for track and trace. Each incremental piece of a hot desking solution adds up to quelled coronavirus concerns.
Remember to keep health and safety at the forefront of every hot desking decision. Once employees know and feel that hot desks are a safe solution, they’ll have an easier time getting back to work. This is especially true for employees wary of a return to the workplace, who may feel more comfortable knowing how hot desking benefits their health and wellness.
Keep reading: How to use physical distancing software