What does hot desking mean in 2023
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/ What Does Hot Desking Mean in 2024?

What Does Hot Desking Mean in 2024?

Hot Desks and Hot Desking

Hot desking is the sharing of workstations among multiple employees. It’s borrowed from the naval term ‘hot racking’, which refers to the practice of sharing the same bunk bed at different times. While not new as a workplace principle it has become critical to the workforce in 2024 and remains one of the pillars of hybrid working and the efforts to combat unused office space.

Unused office space is a serious problem for companies. In fact, a recent study of 2000 office spaces by Density (a leading workplace usage measurement company), found that office spaces were left unused for around one-third of the working day (181,000 hours of the 502,000 cumulative working hours in their observation data). Pairing research on optimal workplace design – suggesting ideal office densities ranges of 75-150 sq ft per person – with the average cost of office space in London (around £65-80 per sq ft.), it’s not surprising that employers are concerned about better utilising their space. Having a hot desking programme in place to maximise the available space in an office can help in saving costs.

This article takes a refreshed look at what hot desking means in 2023. It covers issues from remote work and desk booking, to the benefits of hot desking and utilisation of existing office space.

A welcoming client touchdown area - the perfect space for hot desking

What is Hot Desking?

Hot desking is a flexible workspace system where employees share assigned desks on an ad-hoc “first come first served” basis, instead of having the same desk each time they visit the office. A hot desk approach is designed to increase efficiency and flexibility in the office while reducing operating costs by minimising redundant office space. Hot desking can be implemented in both private offices and coworking spaces, and it is seen as a way to foster innovation and cross-disciplinary collaboration among employees.

What are the Benefits of Hot Desking?

Hot desks are a workspace-sharing model which, if used correctly, can be very effective in maximising efficiency and decreasing overhead costs.

1. Improved Productivity and Creativity

One of the main advantages of hot desking for the hybrid workforce is increased productivity. When employees are not tied to a specific desk, they can choose to work in a location that best suits their needs for a particular task. For example, an employee might choose to work at a standing desk to stretch their legs and get the blood flowing. Or they might want to switch to a quiet area if they need to concentrate. Additionally, hot desks allow employees to move around the office and interact with their colleagues, which can lead to more collaboration and idea-sharing.

2. Cost Savings

Another advantage of hot desking is cost savings. With the high costs of office space, the issue of wasted space and empty desks is one of the prime reasons for introducing hot desks. Companies looking for a cost-effective solution can save on office space and resources by not having to provide a dedicated desk for each employee. This can be especially beneficial for companies with a high percentage of remote workers, as it allows them to reduce the office footprint and the number of permanent desks. Additionally, hot desks allow for more efficient use of resources, as employees can share them.

3. Flexible Workspaces

Hot desking can also lead to a more flexible and dynamic work environment with increased mobility for employees. With hot desking, employees can choose to work from different locations within the office, which can lead to a more stimulating and motivating work experience. This can be especially beneficial for employees who are used to working remotely and prefer a more flexible schedule.

4. Improved Use of Space

Hot desking eliminates the need for each employee to have a dedicated workspace, which can free up a significant amount of space. This can be especially beneficial for businesses that are looking to expand but don’t want to invest in large amounts of unused office space. Additionally, Hot desking can also be useful for businesses that experience fluctuating staff levels and want to adjust the number of workspaces accordingly.

5. Hybrid Working

Hot desking dovetails perfectly with the hybrid working model. Flexible seating means different teams can work together on days they’re in the office. It also allows employees to mingle more which can foster collaboration between teams.

6. Employee Satisfaction

With hot desks, there’s a choice of where you work; and that’s empowering. Giving employees options and autonomy of where they sit can help to improve employee satisfaction and well-being.

7. Cleanliness in the Workplace

When employees are working from hot desks they tend to clean up after themselves creating a tidier workspace. At the end of the day and desks are left uncluttered and tidy for the next person.

8. Improved Collaboration and Communication

Hot desking encourages employees to interact, mingle and communicate with one another more frequently. This can lead to increased creativity, problem-solving, and the sharing of knowledge and skills. Additionally, hot desking can also break down silos and foster a sense of community and teamwork among employees, which can be beneficial for building a positive and productive work culture.

What are the Challenges of Hot Desking?

Despite its benefits, hot desking presents its own set of challenges, including communication difficulties, security concerns, and employee satisfaction issues. Some employees, for instance, might like their own personal desk and want the same desk every time they visit the office. Placement of personal belongings, the pain of finding assigned desks, looking for empty desk space, and not always having an available desk when you need one, all impact the feasibility of hot desks and their use in an office space.

1. Communication

One of the main challenges of hot desks is communication. When employees are not tied to a specific desk, it can be difficult for colleagues to find them or know where they are working. This can lead to delays in getting in touch with colleagues or getting work done.

2. Security

Another challenge of hot desking is security. When employees are not tied to a specific desk, it can be more difficult to keep track of sensitive information and equipment. Having strict security protocols in place, such as password-protected computers and secure storage are potential solutions here. Additionally, companies could look at providing employees with clear guidelines for safeguarding sensitive information and equipment.

3. Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is another challenge that comes with hot desking. In a survey on hot desking habits, data showed 37% of employees arriving early at work to secure a desk. They also tended to cluster with friends (65%) in close proximity to windows (64%). When employees are not tied to a specific desk, they may feel less connected to the company and their colleagues. Not having personal items on your own desk, having to give up your space and constantly having to find an assigned desk can cause  “hot desking anxiety” for some employees. To overcome this, companies should engage employees in the process of hot desking and ensure they understand the benefits of the system and how to overcome concerns.

Best Practices for Hot Desking in Your Office

To ensure that hot desking is successful in a hybrid workforce environment, companies should follow some best practices. One of the most important best practices is to provide employees with clear and easy-to-use communication and collaboration tools. These tools should allow employees to find desks and communicate with each other regardless of their location. Examples include:

  1. Desk reservation systems and mobile apps to book hot desks
  2. Real-time office maps and way finders
  3. Room booking software
  4. Check-in prompts outside meeting rooms to eliminate “ghost meetings”
  5. Space management and analytics

Another best practice is to have strict security protocols in place. This includes password-protected computers, secure storage solutions, and clear guidelines for safeguarding sensitive information and equipment. By having a robust security system in place, companies can ensure that their sensitive information and equipment are secure, even when employees are not tied to a specific desk.

Finally, it’s essential to have a clear hot desking policy in place. The policy should include details on how the hot desking system works, how employees can reserve a workstation, and what the expectations are for employees when using the system. By having a clear policy in place, companies can ensure that employees are aware of the hot desking policies and are comfortable with them.

Concluding Thoughts

Hot desking can offer many advantages for the hybrid workforce in terms of productivity, collaboration, and cost savings. However, it also presents its own set of challenges, such as communication difficulties, security concerns, and employee satisfaction issues. By following the best practices for implementing hot desking in your office such as providing communication and collaboration tools, engaging employees in the process, and having strict security protocols in place, companies can overcome these challenges and make hot desking a success in their office. Additionally, by having a clear hot desking policy in place, companies can ensure that employees are aware of the hot desking policies and are comfortable with them.


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