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Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 07:39 GMT 08:39 UK
Daily routine key to happy office
graphic of office desk
By BBC News Online's Tanya Hines

Daily rituals make for a happy workplace - a new survey has found.

The report, by recruitment firm Office Angels, has said that slavishly keeping to office rituals and familiar routines can make people more productive.

Popular rituals
Drinking from a favourite cup
Wearing lucky clothes
Labelling office belongings
Using the same toilet

By sitting at the same desk everyday and even by following small routines, such as labelling office belongings and wearing lucky clothes, employees feel more able to cope with day-to-day stresses and strains, it said.

The findings would seem to have dealt a blow to so-called 'hot-desking', where employees do not have their own personal desk, but share the available workspace depending on their hours.

Wandering workers

With more and more flexible working, and phrases like 'work-life balance' becoming increasingly popular in some companies, the concept of a permanent deskspace has been under threat.

One firm exponent of so-called hot-desking is the financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The company has been practising a form of hot-desking it calls 'hotelling' for more than eight years, where employees have to book their office space.

"Although people may well have a preferred space, they have to declare it when they are out of the office so it then becomes available for their colleagues to use," Brenda Birch, a spokeswoman for the company told BBC News Online.

"It also involves a clear desk policy. For the system to work, employees must clear their desks before going."

Hotdesking can turn into people breaking their backs lugging round information with them constantly

Tara Ricks, Joslin Rowe

Other well-known companies practising hot-desking include IBM, where 60% of its UK staff hot-desk, Easyjet, and British Airways.

In the new BA headquarters near Heathrow, hotdesking is encouraged to give people the opportunity to work in the environment that suits them most.

"There is an infrared link in the building so you can take your laptop and plug it into various points - even the cafe if you choose to," says Imogen Daniels, an advisor to the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.

"But people do find hot-desking difficult and some organisations that have tried to implement it have been surprised by the reticence from their staff," she adds.

Battling for workspace

Those arguing for hot-desking argue that it is more flexible, saves space, and cuts costs.

Those against say it is depersonalising, with workers having to battle for deskspace.

"Hot-desking can turn into people breaking their backs lugging round information with them constantly," Tara Ricks, director of the recruitment agency Joslin Rowe told BBC News Online.

"Companies that do adopt hot-desking will be trying to attract candidates who thrive in that environment."

'No more stressful'

A survey for the Health and Safety Executive found hot-desking to be no more stressful for workers than traditional work space arrangements.

Hot-desking employees were also found to be more alert than others.

Last year, the Institute of Management questioned more than 800 company managers on hot-desking: only about a half said they still had their own desk.

So it seems to be a trend that is here to stay.

"On the plus side it can be a much more vibrant and lively atmosphere to work in," says Imogen Daniels.

But she warns that companies need to think out the implications and the effects on staff carefully.

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07 Dec 00 | Business
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20 Oct 98 | Office Life
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