‘In an isolated corner behind storage units’: 18 social workers’ worst experiences of hotdesking

Social workers have recently shared negative experiences of hotdesking in a Community Care survey

Photo: Lek/Fotolia

We asked social workers to share their worst experiences of hotdesking as part of our latest research into this popular policy among social work employers.

An overwhelming majority – 72% – reported having largely or entirely negative experiences of hotdesking, and 86% said they felt hotdesking policies were not compatible with social work.

Here are some of the worst experiences social workers recounted to us as having:

  1. “Coming back to the office after a challenging court hearing and not being able to find a desk to sort paperwork.”
  2. “Dirty workstations with no facility available to clean phones, desk, keyboards etc. It puts me in a negative mood before even starting work and wastes time searching for cleaning materials. I have a compromised immune system and I get worried about being sick.”
  3. “Sitting with people I don’t like.”
  4. “Having nowhere to sit or log on and having to hand write notes.”
  5. “Listening to the gossip of people who always sit together in the same area.”
  6. “You come in at 9am and you cannot find a desk. You sit at a new computer and you have no personal settings, no printer linked…nothing.”
  7. “Someone slamming a drinks bottle near me because I was sat at a desk she ‘claimed’.”
  8. “Spending about half an hour every day identifying a free desk, only to be ‘chased away’ when the permanent worker arrived unexpectedly.”
  9. “Finding myself in an isolated corner of the office behind storage units.”
  10. “Not being able to find a desk and having to turn around and go back home again.”
  11. “Working on a large-scale investigation and being unable to access a computer at all times, and having to carry large files to and from a work space which was time consuming and stressful.”
  12. “Currently I am in a small team that has been placed in the “hotdesking area” as the main team do not feel we should be accommodated in the same office. This is demoralising and undermines the role of my team. Ours is the only area signposted and advertised as ‘hotdesking’.”
  13. “Having a stressful telephone conversation and not having the ability to alert a fellow social worker to support or witness.”
  14. “Needing to quickly print an assessment before going out, and finding the hot desk wasn’t configured for the printer.”
  15. “Sitting with staff from other teams who have been hostile and unwilling to accept people hotdesking with them.”
  16. “Starting in a new team and not having enough desks, therefore having to sit in a different team.”
  17. “Having no desk every day for months whilst pregnant.”
  18. “Needing to locate an important address as left on a post it note which was hurriedly written down and then lost upon trying to return to the same desk after only 15 minutes.”

Read more from our hotdesking research:


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2 Responses to ‘In an isolated corner behind storage units’: 18 social workers’ worst experiences of hotdesking

  1. Diane Deehan February 26, 2019 at 8:04 pm #

    Thoroughly dislike hot desking, especially when colleagues from different teams in same office are allowed to stay in own desk and personalise it. Hot desking is demoralising and creates isolation for workers.

  2. Amanda Wilson February 26, 2019 at 10:35 pm #

    Not feeling a sense of belonging or being able to have a photo of loved ones when I’m having a bad day!