One of the major advantages of a permanent or term-track academic position is a designated private faculty office. It involves dignity and rank. But many people — doctoral students, faculty, lecturers, and others কম are less likely to benefit. Furthermore, private offices not only discriminate but also inefficient use of campus space.
The flexibility of working from home and other off-campus locations has fundamentally changed the purpose and use of private faculty offices. Anyone who has walked into college or university halls knows that private faculty offices are often empty. In a post-epidemic landscape where about 30 to 50 percent of teaching is online and many faculty members no longer work on campus all the time, how many private faculty offices do we still need?
Campus planners, facility managers, and mentors are redesigning faculty workplaces that have traditionally lacked access to office space to facilitate faculty-student interaction and support a growing adjacent population. Our research shows that hot desks and other flexible and unobtrusive private offices, as well as meeting rooms and huddle rooms with personal phone and video booths, can be a worthwhile alternative for trainers and others who visit campus for short periods of time — once or twice a week. Those who come for meetings or just teach a class. Hot desk is a temporary workstation that is available on a first come first served basis. Hot Desk and other unassigned workspace users are expected to remove all work and personal content at the end of each work session. This ensures that these workspaces can be used whenever they are empty and increases the average number of users per workstation.
Such changes have been considered and implemented by the Melbourne School of Engineering, Colonel Tech’s Bloomberg Center, Community College of Baltimore County’s Center for Adjacent Faculty Engagement and the MIT Sloan Executive Education Team. Initially, members who moved from the private office to unspecified workplaces were concerned about the lack of privacy for spacious, storing things and engaging in quiet conversations with colleagues or making personal phone calls. These concerns were addressed by offering personal storage space and implementing zones that support a variety of activities, such as personal / quiet work, social / collaborative work, and more.
After the initial transition period, users reported two positive effects: 1) it was easier to meet and reach colleagues in flexible workspaces and 2) random desk assignments allow them to connect with people outside of their immediate work team. Thus, in addition to saving money by having more faculty members in less space, hot desk can support more equitable space use and increase visibility and social connectivity among the people in the organization.
To be sure, hot desk brings its own challenges. Hot desk changes the way faculties manage their work and the structure of their day. This can create extra labor, as faculty members need to devote time and effort to finding, setting up and cleaning the hot desk after each work session. For example, one of us — Monju, a doctoral student প্রায় often had to spend an extra 30 minutes on her workday to find an empty hot desk on her campus. And once he collected one, he usually ate at his desk and had limited mobility for fear of losing his valuable desk space. She could not move away from her belongings, even for a few minutes.
In fact, when hot desk is used as a quick solution and is not integrated as part of a broader conversation about how private offices are used and allocated, it can do more harm than good. It can sustain a two-tier system whether it has offices or not.
As such, we recommend the following eight steps to make hot desk work for your organization, department, or other unit.
- Conduct a site audit to evaluate the type and requirements of workspace use. Research evidence suggests that hot desks will work well for teachers who visit campus less than two days a week.
- Understand the culture of your unit and use space audit to engage in meaningful conversations with permanent faculty and address their concerns with respect. We recommend that these conversations be conducted by and between faculty peers. Offering practical options such as using a private office for a specific day each week can be an incentive. Working with the university library to provide storage solutions for books and papers could be another.
- Pilot hot desk in small area between department and building to collect feedback.
- Invest in desk-booking software that helps identify and book hot desks to reduce the labor, uncertainty and anxiety associated with hot desk. Provide multiple ways to access desk-booking software, such as through kiosks in the lobby, display displays at entry points, and smartphone apps. The cost is minimal when desk-booking software is integrated with existing institutional software subscriptions.
- Provide adequate, easily accessible, and secure storage space for work and personal belongings, including books, papers, student exams, confidential research materials, technology devices, personal care items, and the like. Faculty members need secure bookcases and filing cabinets; Conventional gym lockers are not enough.
- Convert some private offices to shared space that may be reserved for small group activities. Provide space near the hot desk for recharge and recovery, such as eating, exercising, resting and meditating.
- Channel some cost savings to allow members to access peer locations in their community – in other words, don’t assume there is a binary system where faculty members work at home or in the office. Nearby co-worker spaces are attractive to faculty members who travel long distances on campus but whose care and other family responsibilities make working at home impossible. They are also required by those living in uncertain housing conditions.
- Finally, offer formal and informal communication channels for reporting and problem solving, such as people not respecting someone else’s appointment to use the hot desk or meeting space. Actively seek user feedback on new features. Resolve and develop with a community of users.
In short, depending on user experience, faculty members, and doctoral students who use shared hot desks, campus administrators often reduce the uncertainty and less access to private space associated with hot desks. If you follow some of our recommendations, we think the method might be worth a try in your organization.