September 06, 2021 by Andrea Rajic

What Is Hot Desking and How to Make It Work for Your Team

What Is Hot Desking and How to Make It Work for Your Team

Exploring your options. We can say without any doubts that this has been the main motive in the world of work in the past few years. Companies all over the world are ditching their old ways and testing new strategies and work models that can bring them even better results by creating inspirational working environments where their employees will thrive.

How can you help your team reach their maximum potential? What kind of office setting will help them enhance their productivity and engagement? Maybe you’ve tried remote work. Maybe you’ve tried combining it with working from the office and embracing the hybrid work model.

But what about hot desking?

If you’re not sure what it looks like, this guide is for you. You’ll learn what hot desking is, how to fully enjoy the benefits it brings, and how to tackle the challenges so you can make the most out of it.

What Is Hot Desking?

Hot desking is one of the newer office practices where employees don’t have dedicated workspaces. Instead, everyone can use any desk that’s available.

Simply put, when you arrive at work, you find an open seat and you occupy it until you’re done with your tasks. When you leave, another person can sit there and work.

This relatively new trend is gaining a lot of attention and popularity since it has quite a few benefits, and some well-known companies have already implemented it: Deloitte, LEGO, Square, Microsoft, etc.

Hot desking is suitable both for offices and flexible workspaces, depending on your team’s needs. However, there are differences between these, and we’ll discuss them shortly.

Hot Desking vs. Flexible Workspaces

Hot desking doesn’t depend on the location where you choose to work. You can apply this model to your office and rent or buy a smaller space where you won’t assign specific seats to your employees, but use hot desking to work.

On the other hand, you can do the same in a flexible workspace. Many employers pay for an office or a few desks on a monthly basis, but their employees come in at different times so two or more people can use the same desk.

Good organization is the key here - everyone should have specific working hours, so there won’t be situations where there’s no room for someone who’s come to work.

Hot Desking vs. Hoteling

So you’ve heard of flexible workspaces and coworking, but what about hoteling?

Hoteling is pretty similar to hot desking, and some people even use the terms interchangeably, but there’s a slight difference.

While hot desking is typically used in the city where your team is located, and the desk/workspace rent works on an ongoing basis, hoteling is usually a short-term workspace occupation.

Say you’re going to be working from another country or city for a month. In that case, your company may book an office or a desk in a hotel for you to work from. This is typically done via booking software or a website.

Benefits of Hot Desks

Hot desking has plenty of benefits, and over 80% of employees enjoy the flexibility this work model offers. Let’s take a closer look at the upsides of hot desking.

1. Reduced Real Estate Costs

One of the main and most obvious benefits for employers who offer hot desks as an option is reduced real estate expenses. Hot desking enables them to rent smaller offices and have their employees switch turns in working.

The employers who rent flexible workspaces can experience the same benefits since they can pay for fewer desks and smaller meeting rooms. Not to mention lower utility bills, cleaning expenses, and reduced other overhead costs.

If you’re not sure whether renting a flexible workspace is more cost-effective than a small office, you can check out our complete comparison of workspace costs.

2. Access to Global Talent

Adding hot desks to your company policy is ideal if you’re planning to hire globally.

Collaborating with flexible workspaces that offer this type of flexible desk renting can help you find ideal workers for your team. They may live across the city or even the world, and using a hot desk at a flexible workspace can help you overcome the boundaries and find a way to work together. You will no longer be restricted by location!

3. Good for Contractors and Self-Employed

Your solopreneur or independent contractor associates may find it challenging to work from home all the time. It can feel a bit lonely, they may have too many distractions, or don’t have a suitable working space. Renting an office may be too high of a cost, but using hot desks in a coworking space may be the ideal solution.

4. Networking and Bonding

Using hot desking gives you a chance to create a dynamic atmosphere in your team where different people will work together at different times. As an employer, you can create different schedules for every week and give everyone a chance to get to know each other and bond.

At the same time, if you’re renting an office in a flexible workspace your employees will get to meet people from other companies, exchange ideas, and broaden their perspectives.

5. Efficiency at Its Finest

Since they’re sharing a desk with another colleague, employees will avoid bringing too much stuff to the office and over decorating the place. Think this is a downside? Think again. A survey conducted by Office Max showed that for 77% of respondents, workspace clutter meant lower productivity and inability to focus.

With no clutter, employees will have fewer distractions when working, and will also avoid the risk of forgetting something at the office when they need it at home. That means maximum productivity and focus wherever they are.

Challenges of Hot Desks

Despite the benefits of hot desking, we can’t deny the fact that some people aren’t huge fans of this way of working. Gensler’s research showed that 19% of employees didn’t want to hot desk ever again. Why is that so? Let’s take a look at the possible pitfalls of this work model.

Availability of Seats

Isn’t that ironic? Hot desking, although it’s considered flexible working, may end up not being flexible enough for your needs. If you’re using a single desk and rotating with your coworker, you may not get a chance to work when you feel most focused and inspired, since you have a schedule to follow.

Also, if your team is renting desks in a flexible workspace, you will depend on their working hours. This may not work if you’re an early bird and enjoy catching up with your tasks in the morning, and the space opens, let’s say, at 10 AM.

Lack of Privacy

Not everyone feels nostalgic about stationery they no longer bring to the office, but the lack of privacy may make them feel this way. Without an assigned desk, you can’t make calls or have online meetings in private unless you go to another room.

The same goes for sharing a computer with another employee - you don’t have your own virtual personal space to keep your files without feeling exposed to the prying eyes. Even if they belong to your colleagues.

Lack of Storage Space

Those who need additional equipment for their job may not have (enough) storage space for it. If they need to walk or commute to the office or flexible workspace with hot desks, it may feel inconvenient to carry everything they need for the day.

And even if employees have a storage space in the office, they'll probably need to share it with a colleague with who they also share a desk. There may not be room for both.

How to Make Hot Desking Work for Your Company

Are your employees complaining about hot desks?

If it feels like they’re about to leave your company because of this work system, it’s probably high time you made a couple of changes. It’s not so easy to implement hot desking the right way, but here are a few tips to follow to ensure your employees can fully enjoy the benefits of it.

1. Plan Ahead.

Planning ahead is crucial. Create schedules for every team and every employee to make sure everyone has a seat available when they arrive to work.

If a person comes to the office and they have nowhere to sit, that may cause anxiety and demotivation, as they’ve come prepared to focus on work tasks and now they’re wasting time waiting for a seat or a computer. Ensure seat availability doesn’t disrupt workflow.

2. Keep It Flexible.

Whether you have an office or use a flexible workspace, you need to ensure enough flexibility for your team. If you’ve offered flexible working hours before, there’s no reason to stop now.

But as your employees will be sharing desks, you need to create flexible schedules that they can access and switch shifts or make modifications when necessary. That will help everyone avoid delays in processes.

3. Allow People to Work from Home, Too.

Don’t forget that flexible workspaces or other working conditions can’t replace the benefits of working from home.

If you allow your teams this option, they’ll have their own dedicated workspace at home, so they’ll be more likely to embrace the hot desking culture at home where they’re sharing desks with coworkers.

4. Give People a Bit of Privacy.

Hot desking may work out just fine if you also provide a bit of privacy for your employees. If they’re video conferencing or need to make a phone call, they should be able to go to another room and do it without distractions.

Or they may need to stay a few minutes longer to complete a task. That doesn’t need to disrupt their colleague’s workflow when they arrive ready to take over the desk as they can use the meeting room, for example.

On the other hand, an open kitchen or a chillout area is pretty much a must, since you don’t want your employees to eat or take breaks at their computer desks.

5. Let Your Employees Choose.

The least you can do is involve your employees in the decision-making process. Share the office or flexible workspace options you’re considering and ask for their opinions. They may have their own ideas, too.

The same goes for assigning desks. If they’re going to be sharing it with a coworker, let them at least choose a spot they find most comfortable.

6. Allow a Little Personalization.

Although clutter is typically considered a distractor, a bit of workspace personalization won’t hurt. It may be a picture on the desk, a pillow on the chair, or a fancy keyboard. If both workers sharing the workstation agree, there’s no reason to discourage adding a personal touch.

Is Hot Desking Right for You?

Hot desking has plenty of benefits when it comes to reducing your office space, expenses, and increasing your efficiency. But it may not be the best choice for everyone.

However, testing different work models will help you discover what works for you and your team. Explore the options hot desking provides and see if you can optimize it to enable maximum productivity for you and your team.

Written By

Andrea Rajic

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