The future of work is rapidly changing, and it often seems like there's a popular new work trend that comes out every week. From smart offices, wide-open offices, and four-day workweeks, some unique ideas are slowly becoming common practice.
In the spirit of workplace trends, we're going to dive into a workplace practice that's becoming more and more popular: hot desking.
Hot desking is the practice of multiple employees using the same workstation throughout the day. Employees don't have permanent desks and shift to different workstations based on their needs.
From companies like Deloitte, Square, and Lego all taking advantage of it, it's becoming increasingly popular with today's hot companies. Hot desking allows these companies to keep their workers refreshed by booking different types of workspaces based on what they need. They can book a desk for answering emails in the morning, move to a phone booth to hop on a call, and reserve a conference room for their big weekly update.
This can be a pretty big change for some companies that are used to the traditional personal desk setup. Personal desks are a pretty set feature of any office, so a change can be seen as odd by some. Employees might have never worked in a hot desking setup before and they might be apprehensive about starting.
To keep your employees happy, any of these changes should be instituted over time. Make sure all decision-makers in the office are on the same page and know how this will be implemented. Once they've analyzed how their operations will adjust, they can ensure employees' success.
Although hot desking has many benefits, it might not be for everyone. Check out these pros and cons to help you decide what works best for your organization.
With your company using only the bare minimum amount of resources it needs, you'll be ensuring a much leaner operation than before. You only have as many desks or workstations as needed, allowing you to eliminate resources that are chronically empty or underused. A study conducted in the U.K. estimated that hot desking could save £34 billion per year. Most of these costs are from reduced electricity, rent, and desk equipment costs.
When everyone is on the same level with seating, it breaks down harmful office hierarchy. The type of workstation and location an individual has is usually an indicator of rank. Managers and executives traditionally have their own offices, while individual contributors work in cubicles. Like an open office format with shared rows of tables, hot desking breaks up inequality. Everyone shares the same resources no matter their rank, emphasizing office equality.
Remote and hybrid workers are often left out in the traditional desk set-up. Integrating these employees occurs with the effective use of different types of workstations. Dedicating spaces for calls and conference rooms for larger meetings makes communicating with remote employees a priority. Remote employees won't have to hear the constant noise of the office kitchen in their calls. Distinct workstations for meetings stop remote employees from feeling like they're an afterthought.
Having set stations for different needs, such as phone booths for calls and desks for heads-down work keeps your office productive. Employees get to move to areas that are best suited for their needs and keeps them focused on their work at hand. With a traditional office set-up, workers usually only have a desk and a conference room to use. This makes it difficult to find a place that lets them work most effectively. Integrating hot desking alongside smart meeting rooms also ensures productive use of space.
The main problem that most have with hot desking is the loss of your desk. Some people enjoy having a bit of the office that is static and that they can claim as theirs. Not having a set space can alienate some employees and make them feel out of place. This, in turn, could make them less likely to come into the office. Although this isn't all bad (we'll explain later), anything that could make employees feel displaced should be considered.
Teams are usually seated together in a normal office, so moving people out of their groups can be a challenge. People enjoy sitting with their like group, so camaraderie can take a hit if teams are separated. It can also be a bit more difficult to integrate new folks into your team when you're not in the same spot every day.
Without team members sitting in the same area, it might be hard to find other employees when you need them. Questions can be more difficult to answer when you aren't sure where a specific employee is sitting for the day. You won't be able to drop by the head of accounting's desk to get an answer about last week's sales as easily. You'll have to find a way to locate your coworkers if you want to pick someone's brain about something.
To avoid these cons, there are best practices you can follow to get the best results for your company.
Before you make a change to your seating arrangements, you need to see what your employees think. Take polls of your office on how they work, what workspaces they would like to see, and how they would feel about hot desking. Hot desking might also not be perfect for everyone at your company. If an employee spends more than 80% of their time at their desk or requires equipment that isn't easy to move, then hot desking is probably not suited for them. If things are looking positive, begin to make plans to set up hot desking.
A shift in any office setup is a big deal that should be accomplished as smoothly as possible. Hot desking can be harmful to teams when done poorly, so a focus on the right materials and setup is important. Make sure that your setup is specific to your office to capture your unique company style and processes.
Take account of your office setups like meeting rooms, phone booths, desks, and kitchen. If you only have one conference room, you should add other resources before moving to hot desking. These systems work best when there are a variety of meeting rooms, conference spaces, and individual work areas for different styles of work.
With these in place, find a provider such as Robin to help build your hot desking system. Your systems should have a live map of the office with employee location displayed and easy online booking for clarity.
Now that spaces are a little more shared, cleanliness should be a priority. It's more important now than ever to practice good hygiene so that you keep these shared spaces clean.
Avoid eating and working at your desk to avoid crumbs and spills on shared equipment. Things can get dirty quickly, so employees must clean their areas with hygienic wipes or other cleaning materials to stop a cold from infecting the whole office. If you keep common spaces clean, employees will keep embracing the system and keep morale up.
We know hot desking isn't for everyone, so you should empower workers to work in the way that works for them. Supporting remote work and hybrid work options let employees work in a way that is easiest for them. If they're upset about losing their personal space, working remotely gives them back some personal space. You can't change a system and expect everyone to be a fan. Encouraging remote and hybrid work lets workers control the way to work that's best for them. If they do decide to work remotely, they can get inspired using these ideas for some great home offices.
Now that you have an idea what hot desking is, analyze what your company needs and if it's right for you. For more about remote work, here's our guide to everything you'll need to know.