Here, we look at the pros and cons of hot desking and share ideas on how to make it work within your office design.
First, what is hot desking? Hot desking is where you have less desks than employees and each person does not have an assigned desk. It works on the assumption that your staff are never all in the office at the same time. Rather than having a permanent desk, cubicle or office, staff choose where they work depending on availability and who they are working with.
Along with open plan offices, hot desking became popular in the 90s largely driven by cost savings. While initially praised as a modern way to work and collaborate, many people found the negatives like distractions and lack of personal space outweighed the positives.
However, with flexible hybrid working arrangements now the new normal, employers and employees are warming to the flexibility of hot desking and understanding the pros and cons of hot desking.
Pros: What’s hot about hot desking?
Cuts clutter: Less clutter is kept on the desks which helps keep the place tidy and easier to clean. A clear desk equals a clear mind!
Better collaboration: By sitting close to whoever you are working with on a given day builds teamwork, establishes employee relationships, inspires creativity, promotes equality and encourages cross-departmental interaction.
Perfect for hybrid working: Hot desking allows flexibility for staff to come and go at different times, and makes it easier to integrate freelancers and part-time contractors into the work environment.
Saves space and money: Hot desking allows more efficient use of space, and is more cost effective. You can save on overheads, equipment, furniture and rent, as well as reducing your office footprint.
Cons: What’s lukewarm about hot desking?
Disruptive: Working in an open plan environment can be noisy and distracting, and make it hard for people to concentrate if they are doing detailed work.
Inefficient and chaotic: Without a guaranteed desk, you can waste time trying to find a spot and getting the ergonomics set up to suit your needs. Locating your colleagues can take time too if they are in a different spot or even on a different floor.
Impersonal: Hot desking can hinder the sense of belonging as you don’t have a place to display personal items and store equipment. You need to carry this with you or store it separately each day.
Poor privacy issues: Sitting in open plan hot desks with no clear departments makes it harder to have private or confidential conversations. Booking meeting rooms or booths can be time-consuming.
Making hot desking work in your office
While it’s making a resurgence, the pros and cons of hot desking is not the same as it was in the past. If you want to add or improve hot desking spaces in your office, here are some ideas to consider.
Office layout and design
Hot-desking doesn’t allow for personalised touches on your desks such as photos and plants, but you can still create a comfortable and relaxed environment with art, greenery, colour and other decor.
The layout will come down to the needs of your team: Do some people need a permanent desk? How many people will be in the office on peak days? Do you have projects that need fluid teams? Is there specialised equipment to consider?
Consider if you need a mix of options such as private offices, casual seating areas, cafes, conference rooms, lounge areas, private booths, video facilities, outdoor working spaces and more. By assessing your needs, you can allow workers to find a space that suits their task. Most organisations will benefit from a combination of open collaboration areas and closed quiet workspaces.
Furniture and equipment
From sit-stand desks and work benches to comfortable lounges and kitchen tables, there are many different hot-desking furniture options to consider. Modular desks with optional low walls or partitions can be a good choice if you need some privacy without wanting to feel confined by a cubicle.
Selecting some lightweight, movable furniture can enhance flexibility even more, letting you change the space as needed. Ergonomic chairs will also allow for adjustments so everyone can be comfortable.
You’ll also need to consider what standard equipment you’ll need to provide such as monitors, a mouse, cords, power outlets, keyboards and printers.
One of the biggest complaints about hotdesking is not having somewhere to put your things when you clear your desk at the end of the day, so it’s important to have storage options so workers feel at home.
From lockers, filing cabinets, tote trays, coat racks, closet spaces and more, there are stylish and innovative storage solutions available. An experienced office fitout company will be able to help you come up with the best storage solutions for your business.
The latest office fitout technology can uplevel the hot-desking experience. Wireless networks, lightweight laptops, digital processes and mobile booking apps have transformed the process.
For example online booking apps, seating plans and team collaboration tools can eliminate the downside of trying to find a desk or a colleague.
Reinventing your office
If you are thinking of introducing or enhancing the hot desking options in your office the first step is to understand your employee habits so you can plan a space that matches your business needs and balances the pros and cons of hot desking.
With a proven track record, Vestra’s strategists combine global design trends and innovative functionality to devise modern workspaces that enhance the performance of your people, nurture talent and give you scope to grow.