Dynamic Desking, What is it and how does it work?
The term ‘Dynamic Desking’ it would seem, means different things to different people. A quick straw poll amongst some FM’s delivered the following ideas as to what they thought it could be.
Flexible Working, the office has different desks for different types of usage, touchdown, short stay, quiet areas, permanent etc.
Mobile Desks, an Office desk that can be moved around easily.
Convertible desks, these desks have adjustable frames to which different tops can be fitted enabling quick changes to be made from say 1600mm corner to 1800mm straight.
IT enabled, companies such as Microsoft creating desks/tables that have touch screens on the surface.
In the same way that the term ‘Dynamic Desking’ can be interpreted in different ways, then Flexible Working also has different meanings to different people, ranging from flexible hours to home working and very basic desk sharing through to elaborate arrangements to provide a variety of desking types.
Although there is no definitive list, the following list attempts to describe the different types of flexible working desk as generally recognised in the FM industry.
Hot Desking; typically unallocated unbookable desks for use for any amount of time up to a full day
Touchdown; usually smaller and used for shorter periods of up to four hours
Nomad; specifically for use by workers whose role means they are mostly out and about, but can be often be booked in advance.
Hotelling; bookable workspaces which might include some different desk types.
Break out; not a desk type, but somewhere comfortable to have a casual meeting or a break typically with tub chairs, sofas and coffee tables. These areas are often installed as part of a Flexible Working scheme and have become increasingly popular in contemporary workplaces.
British Telecom is perhaps at the forefront of trialling fully mobile desks in the UK. The desk could be wheeled to any part of the office without any wires or cables to impede movement. The major problem with moveable desks on wheels is the need to disconnect and reconnect the desk to power (and data) each time a desk is moved. Experiments by BT using desks powered by batteries stored underneath the desk took place, however this is clearly not an ideal solution for various reasons including the need to recharge the desk batteries each evening.
However desks with lockable wheels do offer the opportunity for some (dynamic) flexibility. Several companies supply such desks including Actiu and Steelcase, these desks tend to be light and fairly small and with data and power disconnected can be quickly and easily moved
Very simply this type of desk enables organisations to quickly reconfigure space at fairly low cost, by changing the shape of desks, but reusing the desk frame. The adaptable desk frame is designed to take various shapes of desk top and be swopped over in a few minutes by one person, whilst data, comms and power remain unaffected. Claremont Centre supply desks which feature the adaptable frame with changeable desk tops.
Organisations which experience high levels of churn or regular create project teams could easily benefit from using this type of desk.
Microsoft have developed desks with built in screens with touch-screen capabilities which we could imagine are what we will have in future offices. However being able to drag and drop, enlarge, manipulate and generally play with images on such a desk is not seen by Microsoft as something that will happen soon in offices, although clearly there are obvious uses in media and marketing departments as well as in the reception areas of larger buildings.
The expected main uses for the interactive touch-screen digidesk (marketed as the ‘Microsoft Surface’)will be as follows,
Virtual Hotel Concierge; using the touch-screen you can pull up details of local amenities and drag relevant phone numbers etc. Direct to your mobile phone.
Healthcare; patients are able to ‘self check in’ and may also be able to research and review different treatment options.
Restaurant; virtual menus ready for you to order, whilst waiting you can play video games ad at the end of the meal use the screen to ask for the bill and calculate what you each owe.
Retail; at a mobile phone shop you choose a model and by placing it on the touch-screen you are able to find out about its features, review different price plans and investigate different ringtones. This does of course need a variety of manufacturers to agree on compatibility between their devices and the interactive touch-screen digidesk.
A brief summary of Dynamic Desking (and what it might be)
- Flexible Working
Various types of working and desk style including;
Hot desking, unallocated, unbookable workstations for any length of stay
Touchdown, typically workstations provided for shorter periods of work
Nomad, workstations specifically designed for peripatetic workers
Hotelling, bookable workspaces
- Mobile Desks
Smaller lighter desks with lockable wheels for more flexibility in the office
- Convertible Desks
Removable desktops on adjustable frames ideal for organisations with high churn rates
- Interactive Touchscreen Digidesk
Desk surface is a large touchscreen which which interacts with wireless devices