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Michael Brisbane

Is hot-desking emptying offices in Singapore?

BY MICHAEL BRISBANE

More and more firms are looking to cut costs and improve productivity by creating open plan offices and hot-desking. But does it lead to empty offices and unhappy staff?

In Australia for the first time in a decade there were more tenants vacating office spaces than renting it, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. People are doing more with less. Will Singapore follow this trend?

While hot-desking can save up to 30% of floor space and open plan offices can save up to 25%, studies have questioned the level of worker satisfaction and productivity.

Research published in 2013 by the University of Sydney who did 43,000 surveys in 303 office buildings around the world found that open-plan workers tended to be less satisfied and that most workers believed that the lack of privacy and extra noise outweighed the benefits of increased interaction.

Some firms have heeded this advice and adapted an “agile” work space. This gives people a choice of work areas and workstations including quiet rooms, meeting rooms, different work stations, lounge areas, etc.

According to a survey from one firm who experimented with this new way of working, it led to 82% of staff believing that it increased collaboration, 91% believed that it was “freer,” and 80% said that they “loved” their space.

Singapore has adopted "agile working" to a varying degree. Microsoft's offices were redesigned to fit more people into less space and have a more dynamic working environment with more collaboration.

HBO+EMTB designed an agile working environment that has not only won awards but featured in local media as being an example of an office of the future. Interestingly employee satisfaction also increased in surveys after the change.

Cisco and Credit Suisse are two more examples of companies that have adopted "agile working" in Singapore to varying degrees of success. It's not for everyone but it is common sense to get more out of the space a company has when 40% of the time employees are not actually at a desk or may not work best in a closed office or open office environment.

Studies also showed that “agile working" saved 20-40% of office space because 40% of staff are not in the office at any given time.

Would “agile working” work for you and for your company in Singapore?

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Michael Brisbane

Michael Brisbane

Michael Brisbane is the Managing Director of Scandinavian Business Seating in Singapore. He is an experienced global movement expert and leader of Scandinavia's three leading seating brands, Hag (pronounced Horg), RH, and RBM in Asia Pacific headquartered in Singapore.

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