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Hot desks are heating up as people head back to the workplace

Hybrid work has won the hearts of employees who want the ability to spend some of the workweek on-site and some of it remote. Under this model of work, how can companies make the most of their space when the number of people on-site fluctuates day by day? The answer, in part, is hot desking

We analyzed Envoy’s Desks platform data of over 225,000 desk bookings to provide workplace teams insight into how employees are using the workplace. Here’s what we learned:

  • The demand for hot desks is increasing: Desk bookings grew 95% from April to May 2021. In May alone, there were more than 113,000 reservations.
  • Employees want to plan ahead: 45% of desks are reserved at least a day in advance. 12% of desks are booked further than two weeks out. 
  • The hottest day to book a desk is the middle of the week: Most desks are booked for Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Employees reserve two desks per week on average: The most popular two-day combination? Tuesday/Wednesday. 
  • Most desks are bookable: 90% of available desks are bookable. Only 10% of desks are permanently assigned. 

We’ll explore each of these points in detail below, starting with trends in desk usage. Let’s dive into the data.

Bookable desks are a hot commodity

The data shows a surge of employees using Envoy Desks to book hot desks. At the time of publication, employees have booked more than 225,000 desks since November 2021, with significant month-over-month increases. In fact, in May 2021 alone, 110,000 desks were reserved—up 95% from April 2021. We expect this growth to continue as more companies return to the workplace and people feel the need to secure their workspace on-site.

Most companies are bringing employees back in phases rather than all at once. Some are also enforcing workplace capacity limits to keep their people safe. With only a certain number of people allowed in the workplace at once, booking desks in advance is key. This ensures employees can plan their schedules in advance without worrying about showing up to the workplace and being turned away. Advance booking also helps employees coordinate their schedules with teammates and work friends. 

We also found that some desks are hotter than others. In fact, 43% of companies¹ have at least one desk that accounts for more than 10% of total bookings! On the flip side of that, three-quarters of companies (78%) have desks that have been used less than 1% of the time. These insights show that not only are some desks more desirable—most aren’t desired at all.

Unbooked desks take up valuable space in the workplace. So what can you do about it? Analyze your hot desk booking data to pinpoint which desks are being underutilized. Then dig into why. It could be that your employees prefer to book desks away from high-traffic areas. Or, perhaps people want to sit at the desk by a window with great natural light. Survey your employees to learn why they like certain desks more than others so you can optimize your space. That may mean removing less-used desks to make room for something else or moving them to more desirable locations.

¹ Limited to companies that have at least 20 desks available for booking

Desks are key to returning to the workplace

Weekly employee entries to the workplace continue to increase across the United States. To accommodate your people, it’s important to consider trends in their desk booking behavior. The data we analyzed revealed important information around when employees reserve desks.

Before the pandemic, most people worked on-site five days a week. Now, it’s clear that employees are on-site fewer days a week. The majority of desk bookings are booked for mid-week. Desks reserved on Tuesday and Wednesday account for 50% of total bookings. Let’s take a look at key insights the data shows:

  • 46% of people reserve desks one day per week. Tuesday is the most popular day.
  • 26% of people reserve desks two days per week.  Tuesday/Wednesday is the most popular two-day combo, followed closely by Monday/Tuesday.
  • 14% of people reserve desks three days per week. Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday is the most popular three-day combo.
  • 9% of people reserve desks four days per week. The vast majority avoid Fridays. 
  • Only 5% of people reserve desks five days per week.

As more employees return to the workplace, people want to book in advance to secure a desk. Currently, over 45% of desks are reserved at least a day in advance. We predict that the majority of bookings will be done in advance by mid-summer, as even more people will work on-site. 

Final thoughts

Hot desks are in demand as more people return to the workplace. In May 2021 alone, bookings grew to 110,000—a 95% increase from the previous month. People have started to book in advance more often to claim their favorite desks, and it’s clear some desks are much more desirable than others. This study shows trends in thousands of desk bookings. But the best way to ensure you make the right decisions for your people is by reviewing your own hot desk booking data. With this information, you can anticipate your employees’ needs and adapt.

Want to learn more about how to arrange your space under a hybrid work model? Read our blog post, How to set up hot desks for a flexible workplace.