people workin in an open space

What You Need to Know About Hot Desking

Companies that are rapidly growing may quickly run out of space. However, some desks might be empty most of the time and in different shifts. It can be very costly to pay for more space to accommodate employees, so why not opt for hot desking?

What is hot desking?

Unlike in a traditional workplace setting, a desk is not assigned to one employee in an office that implements hot desking. Instead, they can “check in” to any available desk. The term “hot desking” is widely believed to have been derived from “hot racking”, which is practised by sailors and navy soldiers where people with different shifts would share the same bunk.

Sometimes, this practice can be called “hoteling”. You may encounter hoteling and hot desking being used interchangeably to refer to the type of workplace seating available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, others might argue that they are different concepts. In most cases, hoteling would require people to reserve the space before they can use it, unlike in hot desking where no reservation is required.

What are the benefits of hot desking?

The biggest advantage a company can derive from hot desking could be cost savings. By cutting down on unused space, companies wouldn’t have to spend on additional real estate and equipment while still having a productive workforce.

Since employees are only in their spaces temporarily, hot desking would also encourage them to clean up and minimise the clutter at their workstations. Having less clutter in their area may then help people stay organised and focused on work.

Hot desking provides mobility, which can allow people to get to know their co-workers across the entire company. This would make it less difficult for employees to work with each other, and make collaborations more natural and productive.

What are the disadvantages of hot desking?

people working in an open desk

Some employees might feel unsupported because they are separated from their teammates and managers, and do not have a familiar workspace. This setting can also reduce the communication, morale and creativity of close-knit teams. For companies where employees have flexible shifts, hunting for free desks could also get difficult on certain times of day.

To alleviate the possible reduction in collaboration, the company may need to provide employees with excellent IT resources that could promote overall collaboration. IT resources will also be needed so that employees can log in and access their work at any available desk. For companies who do not have a big budget for their IT needs, such changes can be quite costly.

Privacy can also be an issue both in a physical and IT perspective. Some people may find themselves working in stations that are easily intruded or have too many distractions. And if each desk comes with its own PC, employees might be able to access the profiles and works of others who have occupied the same area, whether or not they meant to do so.

Hot desking is not a one-size-fits-all kind of workplace setting. Depending on the work they do and the space they have, this practice may or may not be suitable for a company. If you are considering allowing hot desking in your company, it is important that you research this carefully and maybe consult with employees if this would benefit them as well.