What is Hot Desking and Should Your Business Try It?
In many ways, hot desking is that update, although implementing hot desking isn’t something you should try without a solid plan.
To that end, this article will start by explaining what hot desking is. Then, we’ll review the pros and cons of hot desking so you can determine how to implement this office format .
What is Hot Desking?
The term ‘hot desking’ refers to a system of organizing your workspace. It enables multiple office workers to use a single workstation at different times. Generally, the system is set up so employees occupy desks—or other work surfaces—on a first-come, first-serve basis.
However, the rules and procedures for hot desking vary from company to company. For example, many companies reserve floors for certain teams so employees know they can find a desk near their team.
Additionally, many companies enable their remote employees to use hot desks in public coworking spaces. This serves as an affordable alternative to setting up a permanent office in a new location.
Finally, it’s important to distinguish hot desking from hoteling, which is a system in which employees reserve their workstations.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Hot Desking?
Like any work arrangement, there are benefits of hot desking, in addition to downsides. Therefore, deciding whether you adopt the practice depends on your organization.
The next section highlights the pros and and cons so you can determine if this is right for your company.
The Pros of Hot Desking:
1. More Efficient Use of Space
The traditional office provides one workspace for each employee. Yet, even before the COVID19 pandemic, an increasing proportion of employees were at least partially remote.
Due to the increase in partially remote workers, having one workspace for each employee isn’t an efficient use of space. With hot desking, your organization can use space more efficiently, reducing the need for additional desks and space.
2. Can Reduce Expenses
For startups and small businesses, office spaces generally cost $100 to $1000 per employee per month. By using this approach, though, you can reduce your square footage needs and, by extension, your office rent.
For example, consider that the average cubicle is 90 square feet. Now imagine hot desking allows you to eliminate five cubicles. That means you need 450 fewer square feet to accommodate your employees.
In Austin, the average annual cost per square foot of real estate is $37.34. Therefore, in this scenario, hot desking could save you as much as $16,803 per year.
3. Encourages Cross-Functional Collaboration
It’s natural for employees to become siloed from their colleagues in other departments. Left unaddressed, this separation can lead to issues in sales, marketing, service delivery, and more. Unfortunately, traditional, fixed workspaces often exacerbate this separation.
However, because you can end up sitting just about anywhere, hot desking encourages more cross-functional collaboration. This allows different departments to share their best practices while working towards common goals.
The Cons of Hot Desking:
1. Challenging to Keep Clean
With the renewed emphasis on cleanliness due to COVID19, hot desking makes maintaining sufficient sanitation more difficult. In fact, one study by Initial Washroom Hygiene claimed that “microbiological activity is 18 percent higher in hot desking environments.”
Although you can require regular sanitation and offer disposable desk covers, cleanliness will still be a challenge with this office environment.
2. Employees May Want Their Own Space
With a shared desk, personal items will likely get shifted around and seats will be adjusted. Each time your employees sit down at their desk, they’ll have to tweak it based on their preferences.
On top of that, for people who come in later, it may be hard to find a space near their team. Given a choice, chances are that many of your employees would prefer their own space.
3. Can be Complicated to Schedule
The key with hot desking is to maximize your office space without negatively impacting productivity. However, depending on scheduling, scenarios may arise where desks become scarce. Team members may struggle to find a common space to work together.
Salespeople who may need to be on the phone all day may end up next to accountants, which will be disruptive. To avoid these things requires smart desk booking, which can get complicated.
Where to Start with Hot Desking for Business
If you think hot desking may be a good fit for your business, the first step is to outline a policy. If you have a dedicated human resources department, you can work with them to create this document.
Your hot desking policy should include, at a minimum, your rationale for hot desking and your company and employee responsibilities.
You may also need to reconfigure your office layout to accommodate hot desking. One popular approach is to establish “neighborhoods” where desks are available first-come, first-serve but only for a specific team.
Ultimately, you’re unlikely to get it perfect on your first try, so be open to experimenting. Observe how hot desking affects productivity, listen to your employees, then adjust from there.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.