Hotdesking not compatible with social work, 86% of social workers say

A Community Care survey has found more than half of social workers 'strongly disagreed' that hotdesking was compatible with their practice


More than eight in 10 (86%) of social workers don’t believe hotdesking is compatible with their jobs, a survey by Community Care has revealed.

The survey of over 2,400 social workers found 57% ‘strongly disagreed’ with the opinion that hotdesking was compatible with their jobs, while a further 29% said they ‘disagreed’. With 8% saying they felt neutral on the subject, only 6% of the profession agreed that social work as a job was compatible with hotdesking.

The findings come as 96% of those surveyed said their employers used hotdesking in at least one of its bases, and 82% told us they currently hotdesk.

When asked for their reasons why they felt it wasn’t compatible, one social worker said it “adds to anxiety” and “is particularly difficult after a challenging visit”.

Another added how it makes teams feel “disjointed”.

“It can waste your time. It also means that you are not sat with your team on occasion and they, especially as an [assessed and supported year in employment social worker] are a huge source of support both with the job itself and emotional well-being,” another social worker added.

Overall more than 60% of social workers who took Community Care’s survey said their experience of hotdesking had been ‘entirely’ or ‘largely’ negative.

45% reported that hotdesking negatively impacted on their day-to-day enjoyment of, and effectiveness in, their jobs every day.

Common problems highlighted by respondents were the wasted time of trying to find a desk, the loss of peer support on both a practical and emotional level, and general untidiness.

Read more from our hotdesking research:

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14 Responses to Hotdesking not compatible with social work, 86% of social workers say

  1. Alan Hignett February 21, 2019 at 1:27 pm #

    Read this excellent article turnaround to share with my colleagues and found I was the only one currently in the office! So as we appear to be stuck with hot desking has anyone out there got any good ideas to pull team members together to share/support and improve morale outside of team meetings?

    • Suzanne forest February 21, 2019 at 8:59 pm #

      Yes loads of ways. We started with a, swot anaysis and went from there. Now we have daily manager updates including whos in, what desks are around, interesting artivles and thoughts, to making sure teams have everyones numbers have all the tech and know how to use it and are given lea way to chat when tjey do come in. Its hard not idea but possible

      • Alan February 26, 2019 at 1:03 pm #

        Thanks Suzanne that will supplement some ideas we have around having regular learning training events together with hypothetical case discussions were team specialists can discuss and explore; also some practical, some support with stress and working more remotely. Just ideas.


    • Karen Cameron February 27, 2019 at 8:04 pm #

      A shared team breakfast on a regular basis ? Might attract staff into the office

  2. Ian Kemp February 21, 2019 at 4:10 pm #

    HOT DESKING IS THE MOST UNPROFESSIONAL NONSENSE I have ever come across > Classic LA I fear . Get social work out of LA create a centrally funded service to include all homes all support workers with proper professional training for all. It is the only way that social work can begin to professionalise gain respect of other professions. Create a proper humane caring service. LA has failed in all areas . It is a massive bureaucracy creating a marginal service at great cost.
    I am retired so the best of luck to those who remain ,Ian

  3. J.h February 21, 2019 at 7:56 pm #

    What’s the outcome of the data going to be for real time practice? What will community care being doing with this to improve issues discussed and promote change?

  4. Bionic Woman February 22, 2019 at 10:48 am #

    When there is so many people fed up with hot desking, who is it that continues to insist upon these arrangements? I found it almost impossible, as I have a specialist ergonomic chair, which I would have to constantly ask other workers to get out of my chair, which not only added to anxiety but caused some degree of upset for the worker being asked to vacate my chair!

    • Anonymous February 24, 2019 at 7:23 am #

      You should request and be given a ‘fixed desk’. If not I’d have a chat with Health and safety and request a work place risk assessment.

  5. dk February 23, 2019 at 11:43 am #

    Depends a lot, I think, on what the hot desking set up looks like. My LA has team areas within which there are no set seats. You might not have the comfort and convenience of your own desk and naturally being a LA there aren’t enough desks for every staff member, but you do still sit with social workers in your own or a related team. I found this really useful as a student and ASYE; I wasn’t able to park myself next to the people I knew best and instead sat next to colleagues of different backgrounds, qualifying routes, levels of experience and philosophies and my practice became much richer for it.

    But just sitting anywhere in an LA office… No thanks.

  6. Anonymous February 24, 2019 at 7:27 am #

    This research should be presented to directors asking one simple question. “When and how can we stop this nonsense”. I know that I will be asking our PSW and union to be doing that. If your team sits together in some office space, count up how many desks you would actually be short. For us it’s only a few, so all of the upset seems pretty pointless and counterproductive.

  7. Blair Mcpherson February 25, 2019 at 1:03 pm #

    I suppose it all depends on why you introduced hot desking and how. We wanted to make more efficient use of office space. We started by getting the director and senior management team to give up their individual offices and share one office with work stations. We then asked all the managers in HQ to give up their individual offices and share two large rooms equipped with enough workstations for one each. Of course there was some resistance and we do need to ensure we had adequate meeting rooms. May be this is not the purest form oh hot desking but it achieved the objective and showed it was not just social workers who had to do things differently.

  8. TeeJay February 25, 2019 at 8:33 pm #

    How many of the managers who green ticked the hot desking idea are actually hot desking themselves I wonder……🤔?

  9. Billy March 9, 2019 at 1:17 pm #

    Stop this hot desking silliness it’s nonsense, next thing we know we will all be in caravans/or even out buildings with bring your own decorating table as a pop up desk and office. Oh dear oh dear indeed

  10. Pinky March 20, 2019 at 2:41 pm #

    I love the flexibility of hot desking. I think less emphasis on where you work and more on what you do is refreshing. Bums on seats is outdated and inefficient.