Recently my employer started planning how to bring people back to the office. The good news is the organization is not in a rush to make people come back. Part art of the plan is to institute hot seating. It made me wonder; is hot seating okay given the current reality?
Hot seating is a topic about which I am deeply conflicted. For many years I traveled for work. The company I worked for did not provide trainers with desks. The theory was trainers would be on the road 80% of the time so we would not need them. The reality was we traveled between 40-50% of the time.
I hated hot seating because if you did not get into the office early enough there was not going to be a desk available. If you were lucky you would be able to sit part of the day in a conference room. However, most people ended up being nomads for the day and squatting in a series of places as desks became available.
When I finally got a job that rated a desk I was very happy. Sure it is a tiny desk but it was mine. Now my employer is looking to take that away again. Hearing about more COVID19 cases each day on the news it makes me worry about sharing a desk.
What People Say About Hot Seating
Even before COVID, there were some serious concerns around hot seating, many of which I relate to. Employees often feel uncomfortable having to look for space every day. Some people experience anxiety wondering if there will be a desk when they get to work. Yep, that was me for sure. I am not a morning person, I felt I had to get to the office by 6 am just to ensure a desk.
If you have to pack your work gear in and out every day it takes longer to get set up each morning. Also, people start packing up earlier so they can be prepared to leave on time. No one wants to sit in extra traffic. I would see people start tearing down their stuff 30 or more minutes before the end of the day just to make sure the could walk out the door at the right time.
Here is the big one; hygiene is a huge factor. Some people do not clean up after themselves. There would be food, coffee stains, and just a general mess to clean up each day. Plus, people used to come to work sick all the time. They still do. If the person I have to share with is sick or asymptomatic I am going to get sick too.
Why Hot Seat
The reason given for implementing hot seats is that people are working from home. Well yea, we are now. However, prior to COVID, most people were not allowed to telework. Whether anyone will be granted telework post-COVID is yet to be announced.
The organization I work for has multiple offices. The one I used to work in got to work from home 1 day a week. The one I work in now was not allowed to telework at all. Will they go back to the old rules? I hope not if hot seating becomes a reality.
In my opinion, sharing desks is just not a good idea right now. If we have to do it, I hope plenty of cleaning supplies are provided. I also hope people will try to do better to clean up after themselves. But the bosses should not be surprised if the seating arrangement causes tension.
For everyone out there; what are your thoughts? When going back to work – is hot seating okay?