We’ve seen the mania for hot desking, which means smaller spaces can accommodate more staff who don’t need to be at a work-station all day.
Now a new study of entrepreneurs has unearthed the phenomenon of ‘not desking’.
Research interviews with 5,000 small business owners shows that there are many people running successful operations out there who don’t have a physical base, other than their home.
They do the majority of their business on the move and require only their mobile phone, a good signal and somewhere reasonably quiet to make deals, hire staff, do their ordering and chase payments.
The study found more than 65 per cent didn’t need to rent anywhere to sit behind a desk because they either thought it was a waste of money or the nature of their business kept them out and about most of the time anyway.
Shops, car parks, pubs and cafes are all noted as spots where owners can take calls, send emails and prepare proposals.
Asked where the most unusual spot for business activity, 17 per cent said public toilets.
One owner confessed she had taken part in a teleconference while out with her children at London Zoo. I’ve taken part in similar conferences with sales people in the past and the background noise of trumpeting elephants and wailing wildebeest wouldn’t have gone completely unnoticed.
Because sole traders don’t necessarily work nine to five, an office makes no sense anyway. Why go to the bother of travelling somewhere to toil away behind a desk when all the information and technology you need is in the palm of your hand? It saves journey time, the annoyance of other office users and you get to keep all your biscuits to yourself.
Just as there are no rules about the length of the working day, there are none when it comes to holidays either and the survey found owners don’t stop even if they are abroad.
Cruise ships, trains and several tourist spots made the list of places people work from.
The Eiffel Tower, Edinburgh Castle, The Vatican, Jokang Temple in Tibet, a Norwegian fjord, volcanoes and even a Polish monastery were all places respondents admitted to taking calls and answering emails at.
This is a tribute to the commitment and drive small business owners have to make their firms succeed. I know someone who’s taken work calls in the shower, while packing the trolley in Tesco and at a football match – in which he was playing.
Owners with their own animal care businesses were found to be most likely ‘not desking’, with a quarter running their firms remotely.
Those in arts and entertainment, media and marketing and hospitality were found to be the most mobile day-to-day jobs. But there are many others where freeing staff up from a desk would make sense.
Some 65 per cent of the UK’s work population still does the nine to five shift behind a desk.
A survey last year found 76 per cent of staff say they would be more effective working at home.
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