Hot desking is a workplace strategy that has gained popularity in recent years. With its flexibility and ability to optimize workspace utilization, hot desking has become an attractive solution for businesses in the modern hybrid workplace era. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at hot desking – what it is, when to use it, and how it can help hybrid companies achieve business goals while offering the flexibility and freedom that employees are looking for in the age of high turnover.
What is hot desking?
Hot desking is a hybrid workplace strategy where employees have the option to use available desks at different times. Businesses typically choose hot desking to optimize space utilization, improve desk efficiency and reduce real estate costs.
How does hot desking work?
Hot desking works by removing the traditional attachment between employee and desk. Instead of having a permanently assigned desk, employees can choose an available desk when they arrive at work. This can be any desk that is not reserved or occupied by another employee. Hot desking can be either on a first-come, first-served basis or by booking the desk in advance.
The benefits of hot desking
Hot desking offers a number of benefits for both employees and employers. When implemented correctly, hot desking can provide the following benefits:
Optimized space utilization
Hot desking increases office space utilization by reducing the number of empty desks on the floor plan. Instead of having a dedicated desk for each employee, desks can be shared by multiple employees. This increases desk utilization and reduces the need for unnecessary space.
Hot desking can help businesses reduce the cost of rent. By maximizing the use of existing office space, companies can avoid expanding their real estate portfolio or reducing the existing portfolio. This is especially effective in hybrid workspaces where space requirements can vary significantly.
Improved employee relations
Hot desking allows employees to work with colleagues they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to interact with. This can strengthen existing relationships, create new connections, promote teamwork and improve cross-departmental relationships.
Hot desking can improve efficiency and collaboration in the workplace. If there are five departments working on a project, a flexible working environment with hot desking can allow for quick scaling up and down of the project as needs change without the need to add more space. Hot desking allows for face-to-face meetings and creates a space for improved communication and strong social bonds within teams.
Increased cross-disciplinary cohesion
Hot desking enables cross-departmental collaboration, which can help create a more cohesive business. When employees work with colleagues they don’t normally work with, they gain access to new creative ideas and objective perspectives.
Increased employee satisfaction
Employee empowerment in the workplace can have a huge impact on employee satisfaction. Hot desking allows employees to choose where they want to sit, giving them more choice and autonomy. Hot desking also helps create a flexible workplace that allows businesses to reduce their real estate needs and employees to maintain personal flexibility and work-life balance.
Hot desking makes it easier for employees to start working without having to reserve desks in advance. Employees can simply sit down, plug in their equipment and get to work.
Flexibility in hybrid working
Hot desking makes it easier to work in a hybrid or flexible working model. By offering unassigned flexible seating on a first-come, first-served basis, employees can show up and start working without the hassle of reserving desks in advance or adhering to set usage times. Hot desking allows employees to deal with any challenges they may experience in their chosen work environment (construction noise, visitors, busy cafes) in a safe and reliable way. Flexibility helps prevent work-related stress and maintain employee satisfaction.
Hot desking allows employees to focus on work without the interruptions of a cluttered desk. When employees don’t have a permanently assigned desk, they need to leave their desks clean as they may not return to the same desk the next time they are in the office. This raises expectations for cleanliness and creates more hygienic and safer workplaces.
Hot desking office events
Hot desk seating arrangements can be used in different ways and can be adapted to different needs. Implementing hot desking is an effective workplace strategy when used to support flexible work strategies, collaborative workspaces or hybrid work models.
First come, first served
First-come, first-served hot desking allows employees to come in and use any available desk or space. The first-come, first-served model gives employees the flexibility to show up when needed and prevents them from reserving desks they don’t use.
Reserved desks allow employees to reserve the desks they intend to use. This gives employees transparency about where they will sit, who they will be surrounded by and what dynamics they can expect in the office. Although employees can reserve a desk and not use it, using a desk booking system like OfficeSpace can provide data and analytics around desk allocation and utilization so that abuses of the reservation system can be identified and addressed.
Assigned seating can be a useful hot desking model for companies that don’t need a lot of cross-departmental collaboration. Assigned seating limits the desks an employee can reserve. However, there is a risk that an employee who needs a seat may not have any available. This can be avoided by using desk booking software like OfficeSpace, which provides transparency to the employee on whether the desk is in use or not.
Office areas consist of groups of desks dedicated to specific functions or departments. Hot desks can be used within each office area to accommodate individual employee seating needs, such as working with a team or needing specific office facilities. Office spaces are ideal for large businesses that can have 60 or more desks in one area.
An activity-based workspace (ABW) is a dedicated group of seats or zone created to support certain types of collaboration in the workplace. Typically focused on a specific activity or type of work – quiet work, private offices, group work, desks for team-specific tasks, a personal desk for individual work and more – most activity-based workspace designs can benefit from the flexibility that hot desks provide.
An agile work environment gives employees almost unlimited autonomy. For example, employees are given a task, but they are allowed to choose when, where and even how to complete it. Agile working often relies directly on hot desks to give employees extreme flexibility with seating.
Hot desking vs. hoteling: What’s the difference?
Hot desking is when employees sit at any available desk for the day without reserving it in advance, while hoteling is when employees reserve an unassigned seat in advance. Many people mistakenly use the terms hot desking and office hoteling interchangeably, but they are not the same.
Challenges of hot desking and how employers can address them
While hot desking has many benefits, it’s not without its challenges. Without the right tools, finding a free desk for the day can be a hassle. As a result, employees aren’t always thrilled about having to switch desks every time they come to work, find a place for their belongings and deal with potential disruptions. It’s also believed that teams don’t always get the opportunity to build connections like they would in a traditional office with fixed desks and private offices on the floor plan. Here’s how to solve the most common challenges with hot desking in the workplace:
Provide employees with hot desking tools that make desk sharing easier
Use workplace software like MyDesk that makes hot desking faster and more efficient for employees. A workplace mobile app and real-time office maps (floorplan) can go a long way in removing friction from the hot desking experience. Having these tools gives employees transparency about what’s happening in the office and which bookable meeting rooms and desks are available. This gives them the information they need to make informed decisions about how to navigate their workday.
Manage hot desks with desktop booking software
Use desk booking software like MyDesk, which provides additional insight into how, when and by whom desks and spaces are being used. This can help the management team track the success of the hot desking strategy in real-time and improve the desktop booking experience for everyone.
Ensure teams work together
After the pandemic, it’s common for teams to split their time between remote and in-office collaboration. To promote better team cohesion and prevent feelings of isolation in the remote work experience, hold regular video conference meetings so teams can interact with each other even if they’re not physically in the same location. Regular team outings or get-togethers can also be effective in bringing new employees, long-term office workers and remote team members together.
Manage disruption with a well-thought-out floorplan
By using flexible seating arrangements such as office areas or activity-based workspaces, there can be a basic floor plan that employees can navigate to avoid disruption. If an employee needs a more focused work environment, they can use the dedicated "quiet zones".
Make room for personal belongings
Employee preferences are important here, and it’s recommended to consult with employees on how they would like their personal belongings to be stored. Cabinets or storage boxes near the entrance or along the walls can provide a safe place for employees to store their belongings.
Enable office personalization
Employees who are used to working in a traditional office may find it difficult to adapt to a flexible office arrangement due to the lack of a personal desk or private office. Employers can mitigate these challenges by providing alternative ways for employees to personalize shared office spaces. For example, create bulletin boards dedicated to personalization or encourage employees to bring items from their home office (as long as they understand that shared desks are a shared workspace and employees should take personal items home the same day).
Using data analytics to measure the success of hot desking and manage facility planning
Implementing hot desking is not a one-off experience. Monitoring desktop usage and ensuring available hot desks reflect the needs of the team takes time. Employers should keep a close eye on the following metrics to track workplace trends, make informed decisions and keep facility planning up to date.
Workplace analytics helps companies analyze office desk utilization, facility planning, and other areas that impact an organization’s success. This provides an overall understanding that allows companies to make intelligent decisions about their workplaces. By monitoring hot desk usage, workplace teams can identify usage trends, understand employee seating needs and create a better seating setup on the floor plan.
Operational reports guide facility management and planning. Preventive and predictive maintenance reports provide insights into facility operations, allowing you to track when facility updates are needed before they become a costly task. Operational reports can inform the need for implementing building automation systems (BAS) like security, HVAC, lighting and more.
Visibility reports provide transparency on how the space is being used by employees. Using badges and sensors, you can get a real-time understanding of office layout and usage. This data can be used to create a more efficient floor plan and improve space utilization.
This metric shows how space is distributed and used by employees over time. By tracking space utilization, businesses can understand where people congregate, identify wasted space, improve office design and optimize the types of desks available on the floor plan.
Tracking and improving occupancy rates is one of the simplest ways businesses can create more efficient office space. And it’s also the best way to ensure they have the right ratio of hot desks to meet the needs of the employees who are in the office.
Presence data is the trending analytics of desktop booking. By combining visibility reports, space utilization and occupancy data, Presence Data gives facility managers an overview of office usage. Using employee badge data, desk and meeting room bookings, check-ins, cancellations, wifi logs and sometimes sensors, facility managers can create a more developed guide for space optimization.
Why is desktop booking data not enough?
While desktop booking data provides valuable insights into space utilization, it doesn’t assess the finer details of how space is being used. With the IoT technology offered by OfficeSpace, robust presence data can be combined with advanced analytics that facility management professionals need to make informed decisions about space utilization.
Why do you need hybrid workplace management software to make hot desking work?
Hot desking and hybrid working models go hand in hand. Hot desking has a number of benefits for businesses and employees, including improved space utilization, cost savings and increased employee engagement. But it works best when integrated with supporting tools and existing systems.
Workplace management software like MyDesk can optimize the entire experience. It can address everything from setup to daily use and management, giving employees and teams the tools they need for hybrid work and improving many other aspects of the workplace experience for teams and individuals.
An effective workplace management platform has the following features:
- Moving tools for planning and managing one-off and large-scale moves.
- Space management tools to improve space utilization and eliminate excess space.
- Real-time office maps that support in-office guidance and show employees which desks and meeting rooms are available for use.
- Desk and meeting room booking software that provides a seamless booking experience for employees and supports any type of conference room or desk booking strategy – hot desking, hoteling, free addressing, activity-based working and office spaces.
- Scenario planning and stack planning functionality to visually test hypothetical changes to the floor plan and make quick and efficient changes to the company’s portfolio.
How MyDesk can help you with hot desking
MyDesk gives you everything you need to create a successful hot desking office space. It’s even in the name! In addition to the basic features of an effective hybrid management software described in previous sections, MyDesk also offers:
- Comprehensive reporting. The vast amount of present data provided from visibility reports, space utilization and occupancy data is just one of the ways MyDesk can predict the best space optimization for your office. Operations reports also employ a cost-saving measure to anticipate the need for facility updates and maintain office functionality.
- Technology. BAS and IoT features promote better security protocols, collect cleaner data and create a more connected workplace through office integration.
- Connection. A workplace mobile app that users can access anywhere, anytime is essential for employees, especially when integrated with Microsoft Office 365, Outlook and Teams
Whether you’re considering hot desks for a single office or looking to introduce shared desks across a global portfolio, MyDesk makes hot desking and hybrid working easy for everyone. Book a demo today to get started.