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The hotdesking health hazards you need to know about

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Love it or hate it, hotdesking now plays a key role for many places of work, with around a third of all office workers desk-hopping on a daily basis. It was introduced during the late 80s for firms that operated 24 hours a day to save on overheads, as shift workers could simply share the same set of desks and equipment.

Put a spotlight on hotdesking today and it’s easy to see the benefits. For some it’s a flexible, sociable way to share space and provides the opportunity to get to know different colleagues and get rid of outdated workplace mentalities. Research has shown that this form of flexible working can help you feel happier at work, so it makes good sense to put hotdesking into action.

But that doesn’t mean hotdesking comes without its pitfalls. Some find it’s a nightmare scenario in which they have no personal territory, good hygiene is compromised and things are never quite set up to their liking. For example, for team members with back problems, hotdesking can be counterproductive. Having spent time adjusting a chair to their own specific ailment, they may return to work the following day only to find that the chair has been taken and they must adjust another. Likewise, screen height, the type of mouse that goes with a computer and whether or not there’s a foot rest can all have a major impact on comfort and levels of productivity.

To help make hotdesking a little easier for you and others in the office, there’s a few rules to stick to. Use this handy checklist to discover the healthiest ways to use the system.

1. Leave it as you found it: The number one rule when hotdesking is to make sure you return a desk to the way you found it. If you’ve adjusted any ergonomic furniture, switch it back to the original position - that includes the monitor, keyboard, mouse and chair. Doing so will save time and keep things simple and easier for the next person.

2. Desk hygiene: When lots of people are using the same work station it’s imperative that everyone exercises good hygiene habits. Keep antibacterial spray and screen cleaner handy to avoid the spread of bacteria. Wipe down any desk, telephone handset and keyboard which you use – you’d be surprised by how dirty a desk setup can get in a short space of time. One study revealed that a computer keyboard can harbour 3,295 microbes per square inch – that’s more than then average toilet seat which is home to 49 microbes per square inch.

3. Tidy it up: Clear any desks that you have used at the end of your working day - removing documents, business cards, personal items and stationary. There should be no trace of your work left in sight.

4. Protect your data: Changing where you sit every day demands greater attention to detail when it comes to data security. Log out of your work profile every day, maintain a secure password and shred confidential documents – doing so will keep data security in tip-top condition, even when you’re on the move around the office.

5. Ask for support: If you have any specialist needs when it comes to working, flag it with your line manager who can organise equipping hot desks with any necessities. That way, you’ll be able to use a wrist support or foot rest wherever you are sat in the office.

Taking a few minutes out of your day to follow these simple rules will make all the difference to your hotdesking experience – making the practice a helpful part of your daily work routine.

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