Hot Desking: Key to a Flexible Future of Work?
For most of the last three years, millions of people clocked in at work from the comfort of home. Now, eager to return to a state of normalcy, many organizations are asking employees to come back to the office — for at least part of every workweek.
The problem? A smooth return to the office is easier said than done. In fact, research shows that 82% of decision makers are concerned about successfully getting employees back to the office this year. Employees want freedom — not just in terms of where they work, but in how they work, as well.
Enter hot desking. This innovative workspace solution is bringing much-needed flexibility to the modern workplace. But what exactly is hot desking? How does it work? And most importantly, how can your organization benefit from implementing it? Let’s take a closer look…
What is Hot Desking?
Hot desking is a temporary workspace strategy for people with hybrid onsite/offsite work schedules. It’s essentially a flexible seating arrangement where employees can book and use any workstation anywhere in the office on an ad-hoc basis, as long as someone else hasn’t already booked the space.
As an alternative to the traditional fixed-desk setup, this approach lets people freely work onsite wherever they feel comfortable on any given day.
The goal is simple. Employers want to optimize available office space and maximize workforce efficiency, while minimizing as many redundancies as possible. Ideally, this translates into an office environment that is more productive and harmonious.
Why is Hot Desking Becoming so Popular?
Hot desking is far from a new phenomenon. In fact, CitiBank helped pioneer the concept in 2014. After realizing that its office space was underutilized, the company introduced flexible workstations that made better use of existing real estate.
Now, this approach is gaining traction, as more organizations embrace hybrid work models. In the aftermath of the pandemic, employers have been eager to bring people back to the office. However, some employees are strongly resisting mandates to return to the workplace on a full-time basis. This push back has led some employers to shift to hybrid work policies, instead.
Benefits of Hot Desking
Despite criticism from some quarters, the hot desk concept offers undeniable benefits. More than just a seating arrangement, hot desking is a strategic way to drive workforce productivity while supporting broader business goals. Here are some key advantages:
- Reduced cost: As noted in Forbes, hot desking translates into decreased office expenses. This is because employees who share on-demand space, equipment, and utilities require fewer overall resources.
- Improved collaboration: Employees who regularly change their workspace location tend to spend more time with colleagues from different departments. This helps remove communication barriers, encourage cross-functional productivity, and strengthen company culture.
- More organized workspaces: When employees regularly use different workstations, they’re less likely to accumulate clutter and are more likely to surround themselves with work essentials. This isn’t just about maintaining a tidier environment. It also helps improve productivity by reducing unnecessary distractions and keeping people focused on work-related deliverables.
- Increased retention: With the freedom to work wherever they prefer, hot desking employees enjoy an in-office experience that is comfortable and fits their unique workstyle. This sense of autonomy can help improve engagement, diminish burnout, and reduce turnover.
- Measurable insights: An effective way to manage a hot desking team is through a centralized dashboard. This makes it easy for everyone to book workstations and for managers to follow key metrics. It’s also a great way to identify issues that need improvement. By connecting your hot desking setup with a dashboard, you can track all kinds of usage insights. This helps you spot trends and make informed decisions about space allocation.
Hot Desking Tips and Best Practices
When introducing a new hot desking setup, take some time to carefully consider everything you need for a seamless transition. Otherwise, employees may not embrace the change. To ease the process, consider these implementation tips:
1. Make Sure it Makes Sense for You
Before you get started, consider whether hot desking is a good fit for your organization. Circumstances vary, depending on your existing work model, your culture, and other business realities. Start by thinking about how hot desking would work in each of these scenarios:
- Hybrid work model: Hot desks are great for people who come in to the office on specific days but work from home the rest of the week. This ensures everyone always has a workstation whenever they’re in the office.
- Office-first model: Even if your workforce is fully in office, hot desking supports cross-functional teamwork and encourages people to move about the workplace. Also, visitors such as vendors, clients, and business partners can use hot desk space for their business needs while on-site.
- Fully remote model: Do you have a distributed workforce? If so, hot desking can still work in your favor. Whether at a coworking location or in the office, hot desk sites offer employees a remote work alternative when needed.
2. Use Wayfinding to Your Advantage
Wayfinding is the process of literally finding your way around the workplace. It includes any physical or digital system people use to navigate through an office, from physical maps and digital floor plans to more advanced devices that connect with video conference schedules, room controls, and booking capabilities.
How does wayfinding relate to hot desking? Fundamentally, it helps people find available workstations. But as organizations adopt more advanced technology, wayfinding solutions can also encompass room booking and scheduling, environmental monitoring, room controls, and more.
When people regularly switch desks, looking for an available space can be confusing, time-consuming and frustrating. Wayfinding can cut this search time dramatically and help people go where they need to be faster and with fewer hassles.
3. Equip Desks with the Right Technologies
What good is a workstation if it doesn’t actually make work easier? According to Kantar, 64% of hybrid and on-site workers take calls and virtual meetings at their desks.
This means it’s essential to outfit hot desks with all the essentials: USB ports, softphones, video conferencing devices, cameras — basically, anything people need to collaborate efficiently in the modern workplace.
4. Complement Workstations with Bookable Meeting Rooms
Sometimes people need privacy — or at least some peace and quiet. Aside from hot desks, bookable meeting rooms offer a secluded place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the office, so employees can engage in deep work.
It’s smart to install collaboration devices in these rooms, so people can easily initiate and join virtual meetings, collaborate, and stay productive throughout the day. For example, Cisco Room Kits can transform ordinary office rooms into fully functioning video conferencing suites.
Prepare for Your Flexible Future
As your organization jumps back into the swing of things at the office, now is the perfect time to step back and consider the power of hot desking. More than a trend, hot desks are an effective way to support your hybrid workplace and provide employees with more convenience and freedom of choice.
With advanced digital tools that help employees easily share workstations and meeting rooms, hot desking can help your organization pave the way to a successful future of work.