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Industrial Breakthroughs: Hot Desking

What is it?

A novel concept in office management that sees employees scurrying ever earlier to work in the hope of having somewhere to sit.

Where does it come from?

This is disputed. Some business analysts argue that it's derived from submarine fleets, where space is at such a premium that ratings on a three- watch system take turns to sleep in the same warm bunk. Others trace it to the early experience of future heads of industry who learned the brutal truths and rewards of business life playing musical chairs at children's parties.

What's the point of it?

As management explains, it is a sensible strategy in any industry whose employees frequently leave the office to meet clients and customers. It allows the company to save on phones, computers, desks and floor space.

Anything else?

As management tends not to explain, it helps to remind employees that they are guaranteed no permanent place within the company, ensures that they get to work early, and instils in them a last-seat-in-the-lifeboat sense of drive.

Is it popular?

Management likes it.

Does it work?

Not for those latecomers who find themselves heaving bags and briefcases around the office in the hope of finding a space, like motorists circling a block of busy parking meters.

Bring with you

Sharp elbows, a jacket to leave over a chair, grim determination.

Leave at home

Pictures of your children, whacky postcards from your friends, air fresheners.