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Interview – Kate Coles

Last month, we spoke to Kate Coles, Business Manager at the RCOG’s National Guidelines Alliance (NGA). The NGA has been taking part in a hot-desking pilot to put the practice to the test before the new way of working is rolled out across the RCOG following our relocation. 

How was the hot-desking pilot rolled out?

The NGA already had a hot-desking environment in place, whereby people would work at a different desk each day. So this pilot was about setting up the IT infrastructure that will be in place at Union Street. The theory was that the desktop we had when we logged on would ‘move with us’ from computer to computer, to better support us moving from desk to desk. We got staff to test certain aspects of the hot-desking environment, to almost push it to its limits, in order to make sure that it was a sustainable model moving forwards, and then provide feedback on certain criteria.


What was the initial feedback you received?

Halfway through the pilot, we carried out a review and feedback from staff which revealed some teething problems. Since we did this midpoint review, it meant that IT could offer solutions, make changes and resolve problems. We have managed to iron out the IT problems we encountered, so that when the practice is rolled out across the College other staff shouldn’t experience the same teething issues.


Did you have problems with ensuring staff had a computer each day?

No, we didn’t. But it is really important to be open, transparent and communicate efficiently, so colleagues know what everyone is doing. We have a good working culture already, where we keep our diaries up to date and we balance when people are in the office and when they’re working from home, and managers oversee that. We also ensure that if we’re working from home, our mobile number is listed so we are easily contactable. In addition, we felt that being able to sit near people you are working with that day also helps staff to work more dynamically.


What would you say to staff who are concerned about hot-desking?

Just go in with an open mind, take the lessons we’ve learnt and understand that communication and transparency are important to make this a success. I think hot-desking improves collaboration between teams. Staff are exposed to different conversations and they end up learning things they might not have if they weren’t there. You get to mix with everybody at the organisation. A lot of organisations are adopting this way of working and I think hot-desking is the way forward.