There have been a lot of articles recently about hot-desking, especially focusing on the ASU and ATO.  As a workspace change specialist with over 20 years’ experience, who has been successfully transitioning people to different occupancy models in the USA and Australia, I am curious as to what is happening at the ATO?

Hot-desking is an old term from the 1990s, and the ATO article is correct where it suggests research on hot-desking demonstrates that non-allocated seating in a traditional office environment doesn’t really work. We need to be clear that activity based working (ABW) is NOT the same thing as a hot-desking program.

So, what exactly is the ATO doing? 

A lot of articles written about workspace change, cite the importance of the change management process. JLL / Kimble Office.  It’s NEVER just a workspace change, it needs to be a change in how people work within a space.  This change in occupancy model requires three key elements to be successful:

  1. engagement of the end users to define how the physical space needs to support their activities;
  2. application of a virtual environment that provides end users with easy mobility; AND
  3. engagement with the staff and leaders about how they can best work in the new space.

Workspace change is not really a physical space project, but a people project. I am curious as to the ATO’s approach to their change program?

How were end users consulted in the design of the physical space? What is their mobility? Was this defined by what the end users need? What work was done with them on how to successfully work and manage their teams in the space?  

Finally, change practitioner specialists, Expressworks International, generally acknowledge that in any change program, 20% of people will automatically buy-in, 70% will need coaching (and this % will be the focus of the change activities), BUT 10% will never buy-in, no matter how much support they have. Our measure of successful change therefore cannot be 100% acceptance.

What % of ATO staff is the union representing?

Are we only hearing from the 10% of public servants who are never going to buy-in, or is there a wider issue affecting the ATO?