Agile or Fragile? Impact of Hot-desking on NHS Staff

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2018 Health Care Service Group Conference
7 December 2017
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that NHS Employers are moving more towards agile working. The argument for implementing agile working is to increase productivity and to save money in the face of massive Cost Improvement Programmes forced on to NHS organisations.

Conference understands that where agile working is implemented and driven as a measure to cut costs it can have a detrimental impact on employees and productivity. A major part of agile working is “hot-desking”, where employees either share a desk with others or are not assigned a permanent desk and must find one when needed. Recent research has shown those employees without an assigned desk often complain of desk shortages, difficulty finding colleagues and wasting time. Hot-desking has also been found to result in higher levels of distrust, fewer co-worker friendships, as well as creating tension within the workforce between those who use spaces regularly and those who don’t. Some employees have complained that they don’t get the managerial support expected, with many complaining that it is increasingly difficult to have private and confidential conversations and even to concentrate fully. Employees also complain that hot-desking has led to them having to carry equipment and supplies around more and can even create additional work, as they must find and set up the workspace, move between locations, and then remove everything at the end of the day. This can be particularly challenging for disabled staff.

Conference calls on the Health Service Group Executive to:

1)Assess the impact of hot-desking on staff within the NHS;

2)Work with the Health and Safety Committee and Self-Organised Groups to develop guidance for health Branches and Regions to assist with negotiating around hot-desking, promoting best practice and challenging poor practice.