How’s the Hot Desking Going Covid?

imageOne of the benefits of the Covid-19 epidemic is a total rethink about how we live and work (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-28/coronavirus-could-reshape-how-australians-work-forever/12097124 ).

One of those things which desperately needs to be eradicated is the non-innovation of ‘hot desking’. I have written about this before and the research is endless demonstrating this dehumanizing process masked in the name of efficiency and tidiness (https://safetyrisk.net/selective-safety-and-well-being/).

Hot desking is not a human strategy but an efficiency, economic and fake flexibility/agility strategy designed to save money on space at work. It works by sharing desks and workstations in the office under the assumption that humans don’t need to ‘anchor’ to anything for their own mental health.

Of course, open offices and ‘hot desking’ doesn’t work, with disastrous results for mental well being.

· https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonconstable/2019/06/20/how-hot-desking-will-kill-your-company/#c81853632e94

· https://www.ft.com/content/bff71b8c-ae34-11e9-8030-530adfa879c2

· https://theconversation.com/the-research-on-hot-desking-and-activity-based-work-isnt-so-positive-75612

· https://www.hcamag.com/au/news/general/is-hot-desking-bad-for-your-health/150319

· https://www.opensourcedworkplace.com/news/10-problems-with-hot-desking

· https://www.opensourcedworkplace.com/news/psychological-impact-of-hot-desking

· https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/workplace/the-hidden-hell-of-hot-desking-is-much-worse-than-you-think-20190729-p52bom

But hey, when it comes to harm that doesn’t matter because such harm and injury can’t be measured or seen is devalued by Safety so it’s deemed unimportant.

Enter Covid 19.

Even though we knew, now we have been made more aware just how much a virus and disease can be easily transmitted from surfaces. Indeed, even when we think we have fully cleaned something Coronavirus can easily be transmitted (https://www.who.int/news-room/). We also know that people are not diligent with cleaning of hands and surfaces and tend not to think about what they touch, then touch their face (https://www.fastcompany.com/90476831/why-its-so-hard-not-to-touch-your-face ). Some of the classic clips show health experts touching their faces as they warn not to touch your face (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mA1wqjaeKj0).

Hot desking should be blasted by the WHS industry as anti-safety. The practice virtually creates harm and injury and should be smashed by safety people in organisations as being anti-human, anti-creativity and anti-learning. But what does Safety do, it lists hot desking as a hazard and then tells you how to manage it (https://www.staplesadvantage.co.uk/get-inspired/ergonomics/the-hotdesking-health-hazards-you-need-to-know-about/). This is what compliance thinking evidenced does – so clearly evidenced in the deontological ethic exhibited in AIHS BoK on Ethics does. The deontological ethic is an ethic of duty and works wonderfully to suppress any rebellion or criticism. It accepts the judgment of authority and any criticism is deemed anti-safety. Hey little safety sausages, do as you’re told and don’t forget zero harm. A wonderful strategy to make sure that WHS doesn’t upset anyone in power in the workplace. And BTW, how are your mortgage repayments going?

Whilst it is good to see some criticism by OHS of the hot desking issue (http://workplaceohs.com.au/hazards/work-health/analysis/hot-desking-why-musical-chairs-hits-the-wrong-note) there is really very little out there that picks up the importance of dehumanization in the workplace as a safety issue and how power in politics is wielded under the rubric of compliance.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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