Teem
July 29th, 2022

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How to Get Employees Warmed Up to Hot Desking

Hybrid work schedules may be more convenient but getting ready for work may have just gotten a lot more complicated. People are enjoying more flexibility and spending fewer days in the office, but there is a caveat. 

They’re having to take more stuff into the office with them. 

If your employees are anything like me, they may have to resort to writing down a list of return-to-office essentials to avoid leaving their most important items at home. 

As organizations continue to lean on distributed and hybrid work models, many workers are splitting their time between working from home and the office. To support this level of flexibility, they're giving up traditional seat assignments. 

Rather than designating a single desk or office for each employee, many companies have implemented desk hoteling and hot desking to make spaces shareable.

That's one reason many businesses have started investing more heavily in workplace technology that allows employees to book desks and workspace as needed. For desk sharing to work smoothly, employees need to be able to organize their schedules and plan out their workweek in advance.

But without an assigned desk, there are fewer places for workers to keep their items in the office. This can be especially tricky for hybrid employees who need to have equal access to resources and equipment no matter where they're working.

We've compiled a list of important office supplies and hybrid work schedule best practices to help make your organization's return to work a little easier.

Quick list of popular office essentials

  • Keys, parking passes, ID badges
  • Masks, PPE items (if required or preferred)
  • Personal items (glasses, wallet, umbrella, etc.)
  • Work bag, cases, travel organizers
  • Water bottles, tumblers, coffee cups
  • Snacks and packed meals
  • Cords, cables, chargers
  • Laptops, tablets, work phones
  • Personal mobile and wearable devices
  • Wireless mouse, headphones
  • Docking station, computer stand
  • Ergonomic desk accessories
  • Notebook, pens, pencils
  • Gym clothes, accessories
  • Back and seat support
  • Patience (optional, but recommended)

Grab these important items first

Here are the basic office items for employees to check for (and possibly bring with them). 

First, let's start with the most important return to work essentials — the ones people really do not want to leave home without.

1. Anything needed to gain entry or park

Nothing can slow down someone's momentum or ruin a good mood faster than being unable to get into the office at the beginning of the day — or worse, finding that they're locked out of the house when they get home.

Without house keys and an office key or ID badge, they can't get very far.  So employees should grab the items that they'll need to get to and from the office first. That includes all required traveling — bus passes, toll fare, etc. — and parking items, too.

2. Personal protective equipment (PPE)* and other return-to-work essentials

Employees should know and understand your company’s return-to-office protocols and read up on which items will be provided in addition to any items you may require them to bring in themselves.

A few office essentials they may want to consider adding to their return-to-work list include: Hand sanitizer, masks, and other PPE items.

3. Small objects and weather-related items

It’s the little things in life…that get lost most frequently.

It's best if employees keep small objects organized and designate a set place to store them in their work bag. That way, it’s easier to find them when they need to. Plus, storing them properly can protect sensitive and fragile items such as glasses from getting scratched or dropped. 

Remembering to bring important items — such as sunglasses, prescription or blue-light blocking glasses, purses and/or wallets — seems obvious. But forgetting those items hasn't been an issue for workers who have been remote for a while.

That's why it is a good idea to list anything that is small or easy to forget and make sure it gets packed up first.

Another tip for employees: Check the weather forecast before leaving. Depending on the season and any local weather concerns, they might need  to grab a jacket, coat, gloves, umbrella, or anything else they will need to stay comfortable throughout the day.

4. Work bag, briefcase, or backpack

Everyone should invest in a good work bag, briefcase, or backpack (and keep it organized).

Nothing takes the appeal out of agile working like having to lug around piles of equipment and tools back and forth between locations. A good work bag is large enough to hold your most important gear and should be organized well enough to keep things from getting lost inside.

  • Get a decent sized work bag or backpack. And, as we explain later, it's important to avoid back-strain and similar issues.
  • Travel organizers can also come in handy for keeping writing utensils organized and easily accessibly. And they also help keep pencil/pen smudges and stains away.
  • Unless untangling cables and chargers is an ideal part of their morning routine, cord organizers are probably a good idea, too.

Next, gather all work desk essentials

Don't forget to add these to your list.

5. Equipment for your desk

Employees should check what your organization is — and isn’t — providing in the office. Make sure they know what equipment will already be set up at their workstation. That way, they won’t run into any surprises or bring in extra items unnecessarily. 

Here are a few of the top desk equipment items to consider:

  • HDMI cable
  • Laptop and charger
  • Docking station
  • Battery pack(s)
  • Wireless mouse
  • Headphones (noise-cancelling)

We've written about the value of acoustic comfort before: It enables better focus and productivity in the workplace.

Noise-cancelling headphones help block out noisy office sounds — which is important, since research has shown office noise distractions cause a 66% drop in concentration and performance.

6. Common office basics

Again, it's really important for employees to know ahead of time what will be provided versus what they will need to bring in themselves.

Here are a few common office essentials they might want to have handy during the workday:

  • A notebook
  • Pens or pencils
  • Phone
  • Business cards

7. Food and drinks

Depending on their schedule, they may need to plan snacks and meals. If the company orders food or has snacks as part of the office amenities, make sure people know what's available.

And remind everyone to stay hydrated when they return to work in an office.

Here are some useful food and drink items for employees to bring to work:

  • Water bottle, tumbler
  • Coffee mug or travel cup
  • Snacks for the commute
  • Snacks for the office
  • Lunch, depending on your schedule

Office essentials that promote well-being

While some of the items listed below aren’t traditional necessities, the world has started recognizing the importance of well-being at work.

In recent years, there has been a major shift in how people prioritize their mental health and well-being during the workweek. And in a survey just last year, 40% employees said they'd quit if their employers didn't offer flexible options.

Make space for people to practice healthy habits and keep the following items in mind as you prepare for your return to office.

8. Ergonomic items

Protect people's posture and prevent workplace injuries.

From the right workstation set up and desk chairs, to avoiding backpack strain and finding the right walking shoes — put in the extra effort to support well-being and safety.

Major ergonomic office supplies — desks, chairs, lighting, and other furniture and equipment — should be provided by the organization. But this is a good time to remind employees that their home office set up should be ergonomically correct, too.

And for hybrid workers, there's a rising number of portable products — including ergonomic keyboards, trackballs, adjustable laptop stands, extra seat comfort, cushions, etc. — on the market today.

9. Wellness gear and gadgets

Encourage employees to bring any of the gear and gadgets that help them achieve their health and wellness goals. (There's also several workplace wellness apps you can try out.)

Whether employees plan to run to the gym on their break or are going to start practicing mindful meditation throughout the day, make sure they can bring in everything they need to achieve their goals.

If they are able to bring in personal devices such as wearables or motion and fitness trackers, they can get motivated from moving around the office — after all, it will count toward their overall step progress for the day.

10. Commuter essentials

Employees can download a few episodes of their favorite podcast or find a playlist to motivate and inspire them on the way into the office. If your company has any industry suggestions (or their own podcast) make a playlist with some recommendations from your leadership team.

Help people start the day off on a great note and keep stress levels to a minimum.

And if public transportation is part of their commute, employees can use wireless, noise-canceling headphones. They'll just have to remember to charge them overnight. 

By the way, if you or your employees need a good podcast to listen to, here are a few episodes of Workplace Innovator you may be interested in:

Another tip for employees: Consider getting extra seat support and anything else that helps them feel comfortable during their commute into the office and on the trip back home.

What NOT to bring: Home office essentials to keep at home

Consider asking employees to keep these office essentials at home:  

  • Personal items such as picture frames, plants, and pets (unless your office has the space and policies that allow employees to bring these items with them, it’s probably best to ask them to keep these items at home).
  • Their heavy work equipment. That 32” desktop computer can stay in their home office for now. If it’s not practical to travel with it, it’s probably best to instruct them on where the item is expected to stay. Just determine where it’ll be most beneficial to their work, and don't ask people to bring items back and forth between work locations.
  • Snack and lunch food with a distinct smell. (Please stop bringing tuna sandwiches into the office, people.)

3 hybrid work schedule tips and tricks 

Here are some additional recommendations and hybrid work schedule tips and tricks to help employees thrive throughout the work day. 

1. Get multiples of some desk accessories

Hybrid work schedules are tricky, so set your employees up for success by having multiples of their most important items. If it's something people need at home and in the office — particularly an item that is often misplaced or lost — have a few replacements available in the office.

For some items, it might be worthwhile to have duplicates — one designated for the office and another that they can keep at home.

For instance:

  • Chargers and cables 
  • Headphones, adapters, battery packs 
  • Bento boxes, coffee mugs

When they find yourself needing one of these things most, they'll thank you for being prepared.

2. Keep items and information secure

  • Some employees may want to use bluetooth trackers (AirTag, Tile, SmartTag) if they are prone to misplacing items or are planning to be in a new or unfamiliar work location where they may have to leave their bag unattended.
  • Locking briefcases, bags, and backpacks might also be worth considering if employees are carrying sensitive items or there's any concerns about security.
  • In this day and age, it should go without saying the importance of password protection and data encryption. When in doubt, remind employees to play it safe.

As always, communicate your organization's security policies for protecting company data when employees are using work systems and devices. If they use personal devices for work — or while in the workplace — you should also ask them to read up on your organization's BYOD (bring your own device) and personal device policies.

3. Check your return-to-office essentials list

Our final pro tip: Don’t forget to run through this list of office essentials before leaving your home and heading into the office. Or better yet, make your own return to work essentials list using this one as a guide.

You’ll be glad you did.  

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to step back into the workplace and enjoy your new hybrid work schedule to the fullest.

Worried about getting employees warmed up to your new shared seating arrangement? Download our guide to hassle-free hot desking.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Teem

Teem by iOFFICE provides enterprises with space scheduling and management, workplace analytics, building, and campus wayfinding, and visitor management to help cultivate workplaces that fuel productivity, efficiency, and creativity.

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