Need to Cut Cost? Try Desk-sharing

John Krautzel
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More businesses than ever are turning to desk-sharing as a way of keeping overheads down. However, some organizations claim that desk-sharing is about more than just cutting costs; it also promotes an egalitarian, flexible culture in the workplace.

In an increasing number of modern workplaces, employees have no assigned desks. Instead, workers sit at whatever desks are free when they arrive in the morning. Other organizations allow employees to reserve their desks through an online booking system. In some organizations, employees can reserve a desk up to a week in advance, but other businesses only allow employees to make reservations on a daily basis.

With so many employees working from home or traveling as part of their job, desks can lie empty in organizations that use a traditional allocated-desk system. Desk-sharing allows companies to make the most efficient use of the available space, cutting costs and therefore improving the business's bottom line. The technique can allow organizations to grow their workforces without having to lease additional office space, which can be prohibitively expensive.

Desk-sharing can have benefits besides cutting costs. Some employees find the ability to move around the office liberating. They enjoy the regular changes of scenery, as well as the experience of sitting next to a different person every day. Some employers claim that desk-sharing encourages better mixing between different groups of employees, which can improve communication within the organization. It also promotes a flexible culture, which can offer great benefits in today's rapidly changing business world.

So, are there any downsides to desk-sharing? Some employees say they find the practice frustrating and inconvenient. Although some people find it liberating to move desks every day or every week, others find it unsettling to not have a permanent base. Some employees claim that they feel less connected to their organizations when they are not provided with desks of their own.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, desk-sharing and other space-saving strategies could have the effect of cutting costs by up to $55 million a year. These savings are important in the current economic climate, which is tough for many businesses. Companies are also implementing other measures for cutting costs, including getting the accounting department to work more closely with other departments, which can help the most expensive departments to manage their spending. Some organizations are even asking their employees for their suggestions for cutting costs, on the basis that those who work in the organization every day best understand how to make it operate more efficiently.

Although it is not popular with all employees, desk-sharing can be an important strategy for cutting costs in the workplace. Organizations should consult with employees when implementing such a program in order to find out how it is affecting morale and productivity.


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