What Is Hot Desking and What Are Its Benefits?

8 Jul 2021

The modern office is changing. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, offices worldwide have had to reinvent how they manage space and their employees within that space. Health and safety are significant factors to how companies manage their office space, in addition to a newfound appreciation for accommodating personal preferences in a work environment. As employees return to the office, they still desire the autonomy and flexibility that they discovered while working from home. Fortunately, facilities managers can offer this through hot-desking.

What is Hot Desking?

Hot desking, sometimes also called desk sharing, is an office organization system that allows employees to select any available desk when they come to work. This provides an alternative to working from the same assigned desk every day and instead will enable employees to find a workspace on a first-come, first-served basis. As 52% of workers in the US express a growing desire for flexibility in the workplace, setting up hot desks is a simple solution to create the flexible work environment that employees crave. In addition to that, it simplifies office management and improves space utilization by increasing the ratio of people to desks.

Hot desks in a modern workplace

How Does Hot Desking Work?

The hot desking working principle is very simple. Employees are provided with a pool of desks and allowed to choose any workspace in the entire office - ideally, a different one every day. Depending on their preferences, some office workers may even change their workstation a few times per shift. Because of that, desk spaces must be kept clean and free from personal belongings at all times.

Hot desking is an ad-hoc office organization system and does not require any prior reservations. However, many hot desk offices have recently been adopting on-the-spot booking policies to maintain workplace safety and gain better visibility into space utilization.

Hot desking is commonly mistaken with desk hoteling, which, despite being based on a first-come, first-served basis, requires employees to reserve a space (for example, through a booking system) before they may use it. Therefore, the two terms should not be used interchangeably.

The Benefits of Hot Desking

Hot desking entails many wall-breaking ideas of the pioneers of the open office. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its benefits are undeniable. By applying the same seating rules to everyone, hot desking eliminates organizational hierarchy, allows flexibility and promotes social interaction between employees. Above all, it is cost and space-efficient. Having multiple employees sharing one workstation helps company owners cut down costs on expensive office leases.

Here’s what you can achieve by implementing hot desking in your organization:

Improve Collaboration

As a facilities manager, a significant portion of your job is to cultivate a positive work environment where employees feel empowered to succeed. An essential aspect of an individual's success within a company is their ability to collaborate. After all, no task or project is completed entirely by one person but rather by a team of skilled professionals. Fortunately, hot desking is a great enabler of collaboration.

With hot-desking, employees can choose where they sit on a given day. This means that when they are working on a project with a team, they can sit in close proximity to their team members, ensuring that all aspects of the project are communicated and cohesive. Desk management software also enables employees to book conference rooms, ensuring that teams have the space they need to work as a group without interruption.
Furthermore, hot-desking cultivates networking within the office. In a traditional office with assigned seats, employees interact with the same colleagues every day. With hot-desking, employees can interact with individuals they may not have spoken to otherwise. This creates a greater sense of community within the company while offering networking opportunities.

Teamwork in the office

Increase Flexibility and Autonomy

While working remotely over the past year, professionals have experienced a sense of flexibility and autonomy unheard of in the traditional office. Employees could work more flexible hours, take breaks as needed, and choose their work environment every day – whether that be at a desk or on the couch. As employees return to the office, they are hesitant to lose this flexibility. Fortunately, with hot-desking, they don't have to.

Hot desking enables employees the same sense of flexibility as to when they worked from home. Employees can book a desk according to their preference or activities on a given day. This allows employees to choose a workspace that they feel most productive and comfortable in, increasing employee satisfaction.

To take flexibility one step further, many organizations are implementing hybrid workweeks as well. The hybrid workweek allows employees to choose which days of the week they prefer to work remotely or in the office. This provides employees with a flexible schedule that caters to their desire for autonomy. An individual can choose to come into the office on days when meetings are scheduled and work at home when working on a project that involves a high level of focus.

Manage Office Capacity

While businesses are beginning to recover from the effects of the pandemic, we are living in a new normal. Now more than ever, safety is a priority in the office. While employees are returning to the office, they have new safety and social distancing expectations, and there are new protocols to follow. For employees to perform the work expected of them, they must feel safe within the office to do so.

With hot-desking, managing social distancing and office capacity is a breeze. Using desk booking software, management can track how many desks are occupied at a given time, making it simple to record and track capacity. Additionally, facilities managers will have the ability to block off specific desks or areas from employees, ensuring that all individuals in the office keep a safe distance from one another. Individuals who are more hesitant to return to the office have the option to choose a private desk secluded from others. In contrast, those comfortable in a group setting can choose to work in a communal area. Whatever workspace makes employees most comfortable, hot desking can accommodate.

Safe distance between hot desks

Promote Productivity

There is no question that individuals perform better and are more productive when in an environment of their preference. For some, they are more productive when in a quiet area that cultivates focus and serenity. For others, collaboration and social buzz incite productivity. With hot-desking, employees book a desk in an environment that nurtures their personalized sense of productivity.

Many studies have shown that employees have been more productive while working from home because they are in control of their environment. However, if your employees decide to return to the office, this sense of control is not lost. Hot desking enables this same boosted level of productivity by allowing employees to work where they feel most productive. This, in turn, increases employee performance, which is a win-win for both the company and its workforce.

Hot desking increases employee productivity

Reduce Office Space Expenses

Office spaces are expensive to manage and require frequent maintenance. Many companies have significantly invested in their offices over the past year while employees worked remotely, so they are eager to get their workforce back into the office. Even so, as remote work becomes more popular, there is no longer as pressing of a need for office space as before. As a result, hot desking is a great way to cut costs on the workspace, minimizing the need for as much space.

In allowing employees to work where they want, you reduce the amount of office space that your company needs. Some employees may choose to continue working remotely, but those eager to return to the office can benefit from hot desking. As desks can be shared between employees' revolving schedules, fewer desks are required. This means that while employees can work where they are most comfortable, your organization saves considerably on unnecessary office costs.

Hot desking is a new concept to many companies, but it is the future of the modern workplace. Enabling employees to choose their own workspace cultivates a sense of productivity and flexibility while cutting office management costs and complying with safety protocols. With hot-desking in your toolbox, managing the office is easier than ever, and you will see the benefits with your very own eyes.

How to Implement a Hot Desking System?

Whether hot desking is your only seating policy, or just a part of a larger system, it shouldn’t be done manually. The first step to a successful hot desk policy is an efficient desk booking solution, which provides visibility to employees while keeping HR and Facilities Management departments in control. 

If you want to make hot desking work, here are the key aspects you look for in a desk booking system:

  • Real-time availability, because hot desking is all about spontaneous decisions. The office workers should have a clear overview of the available desks and be able to reserve the one they want with a few clicks.

  • Mobile-friendliness, because it is important to make desk reservation accessible to everyone, at any time. Keeping the central booking engine in their pockets, employees can change hot desks whenever needed.

  • Space usage tracking - to spot trends in workspace utilization and setting up a constructive cleaning strategy, for all that extra wiping and dusting not done by employees.

  • Interactive office map and business rules - to provide employees with information about each desk, organize a safe activity-based working, and restrict the desks that are off-limits.

One of the solutions taking all of the above into account is YAROOMS desk booking module. We created it to be agile, so it can support different seating arrangements or even be adapted to non-corporate settings, such as parking lots or events.

Mobile app for hot desk booking

Hot Desking FAQ

How Much Does Hot Desking Cost?

The biggest investment you will make when implementing hot desking is a desk booking solution. Because of that, it is important to select a reliable vendor that can offer all the features you need with a transparent price tag. In very rare cases, companies may also need to allocate some budget for a minimal office redesign. In the long term, you can expect a large pay-off, as hot desking can reduce the office maintenance costs by as much as 30%.

How to Choose the Right Hot Desk Booking System?

An agile desk booking system is an essential asset if you want to implement hot desking successfully. To get the most out of it, look for:

  • Real-time availability
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Space utilization tracking
  • Interactive office map
  • Advanced space search functionality
  • Support for different business rules
  • Check-in functionality

These features will help your employees to quickly locate available spaces while eliminating conflicts over popular seats and reducing the number of unproductive no-shows.

How to Introduce Hot Desking?

Roll-out hot desking in your organization by following these simple steps:

  • Define a clear hot desking policy, procedures, and establish the roll-out timeline.
  • Communicate your plans to your workforce and ask for feedback.
  • Adjust your initial plan depending on employee feedback.
  • Start the hot desking trial period.
  • Gather feedback along the way.
  • Improve your hot desking processes.
  • If the trial period is a success, dive right in.

Topics: Desk booking, Facility management

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