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The ultimate guide to hot desking

Explore how hot desking can be an effective solution for hybrid work and how to set it up at your workplace.

Amy Kirkham
By Amy Kirkham Content Marketing Manager

In today’s world of flexible and smart workplaces, hot desking is becoming the norm. The office is somewhere permanent desks seem increasingly old-school, empty, and expensive. By comparison, hot desking compliments flexible work. It helps people be more agile when they work onsite. 

In this post, we’ll break down what exactly hot desking is and how to make it work for you. We’ll explore:

  • What is hot desking?
  • The benefits of hot desking
  • How to make hot desking work for your business
  • How to set up hot desking

What is hot desking?

Hot desking is a flexible seating arrangement where employees can reserve a desk for the day. This offers employees maximum flexibility to collaborate on a project, work in a satellite office, or just get a new perspective. Hot desking is often short-term and on-demand. Folks can reserve a hot desk on the same day or in advance, normally through a mobile app

The way hot desking works is pretty simple. Employees can book an available desk that offers the amenities they need–either via an app or in-person when they arrive. They can then work from their reserved desk for the day, and choose to rebook or switch it up for any other days they plan to be onsite.

Hot desking vs hoteling

Although very similar concepts, hot desking and hoteling are not the same. Hot desking is a desk sharing arrangement where employees can reserve a desk for the day, either in advance or onsite. Office hoteling is another flexible seating arrangement where employees reserve a desk for a set period of time. These are often longer-term reservations, for days, weeks, or months. 

The benefits of hot desking

Hot desking is a flexible, cost effective solution for organizations looking to manage their space more efficiently. In today’s world of hybrid work, fewer folks are onsite each day. As a result, organizations have had to reevaluate their office space and optimize it to keep up with employee needs. This includes monitoring desks and how people use them as they return to work. Here are some benefits hot desking can bring to your employees and your business:

  1. Flexibility. Hot desking gives people the freedom to work where they are most comfortable and productive onsite. Depending on whether you are 100% onsite or hybrid, implementing a hot desking policy gives people autonomy over what their daily work environment looks and feels like.
  2. Collaboration and productivity. A hot desking policy can have a positive impact on productivity and collaboration. It encourages employees to change up where they sit–whether that’s with different coworkers, different departments, or even different floors. This helps folks have more cross-functional interactions and contributes to a better company culture overall.
  3. Cost savings. Permanent desk assignments are more expensive because they require more space. Employees working from home even just one day a week would mean that there are empty desks in the office. Hot desking cuts down on this wasted space by making better use of existing space and allowing you to cut down on real estate costs if you choose to downsize your office.
  4. Data-driven decision-making. Hot desking gives you insights into how your space is being used. You can then spot trends and make better use of your space. Plus, you get data to help make smart, informed decisions as your plan for future real estate needs.
  5. Tidier workspace. Hot desks make for a tidier workspace. With fewer personal items or stacks of paper cluttering desk space, you get a cleaner, more organized office.


For hot desking to benefit your business, ensure you support it with the right tools. Otherwise it can be a hassle to find a hot desk for the day. This can lead to employee dissatisfaction and lower productivity–especially when people lose trust in being able to find the right desk to work from in the office. Look for a desk booking software as a first step. Then, consider what features you need for hot desking to work for your people, whether that’s a workplace map, neighborhoods, or different desk amenities.

Is hot desking right for you?

Hot desking is a great feature in hybrid workplaces. But it also works well in all kinds of other workplace types too. For example, even if you are fully in-office, hot desking can offer flexibility and encourage a sense of community within the workspace. Equally, if you are a part of a smaller company who’s just getting started, hot desking allows you to share a coworking space with others. This helps you to grow without the real estate costs of a permanent office. 

One of the best ways to know if hot desking is right for your business is to consider your company culture. If your office focuses on efficiency, flexibility, mobility, and safety then you’ll likely reap the benefits of hot desking. So how do you make hot desking work with different flexible work models?

If your organization has a remote working policy, hot desking can provide employees with the option to visit an office or coworking location and book a desk for the day. This might be in a shared or private workspace, but either way, hot desks can be a major benefit to folks who want to change up their routine without committing to an office location full or part of the time.

If your organization has a hybrid working policy, hot desking can support people who come and go from the office on different schedules. For example, if you are operating a hybrid work policy that requires people to come in 3 days a week, hot desking can help you ensure you have enough workstations on any given day for people to use.

If your organization has a 100% onsite policy, hot desking can help support cross-functional interactions within your organization. Permanent desk assignments allocate coworkers together,  reducing the chance to have conversations with folks outside of their immediate vicinity. Hot desking, on the other hand, can help people move about the office, talk to other coworkers, and improve people’s sense of belonging. 

How to set up hot desking

Creating an office seating arrangement that your employees will love takes time and planning. You’ll want to look for desk booking software that works seamlessly with your tech stack, as well as keeps your workspace flexible and employees happy. Let’s take a look at some of the best practices for setting up a successful hot desking policy:

Invest in a desk booking solution 

Before you implement a hot desking policy, ensure you have a desk booking solution set up and running. You don’t want your people to feel stressed by the new change and wondering why they can’t sit at their own, designated desk anymore. By having an easy-to-use desk reservation system, your employees will be able to book their desk ahead of time, get visibility into where their coworkers are sitting, and know exactly where to go when they arrive in the office each day.

Consider the right desk features for your office

When you invest in a desk booking solution, you should also think about the features that would benefit your organization and people the most. For example, if you are a company that has implemented a hybrid split-week policy that requires teams to come in on specific days, then neighborhoods might be a great feature for you to explore. This will help coworkers, teams, and functions sit together on their onsite days. Here are a few great features to consider when looking at a hot desking policy for your business:

  • Team neighborhoods. Highlight specific areas where coworkers can sit together to work and collaborate.
  • Workspace maps. Display an interactive map of your space so folks can easily locate and book their desk for the day.
  • Desk amenities. Empower your people to filter and book the perfect desk, equipped with everything they need for the day.
  • Desk analytics. Get insight into space use so you can optimize your office layout and lower your costs.

Set up your floor plan

As well as providing different desk features, it’s also a good idea to show the different workspace options available to employees. This includes quiet areas, collaboration spaces, and desk booths that folks can choose from.

You can then use a space planning tool to figure out your floor plan. For example, you might want some desks to be reservable for everyone while others assigned to a particular department. Using your desk booking software, you can add markers for each available desk and specify which ones are permanently assigned. This way employees can book an available desk and find each other with ease.

Get employees excited about it

As more organizations opt for a hybrid work approach, people’s routines are shifting once again. If you’re not careful, this change can encourage apprehension rather than excitement to get back into the office. To help manage this, communicate clearly and regularly with your people before you implement your new hot desking policy. You can generate excitement through your messaging and ensure folks understand why you have made the decision to change something. When people understand the benefits it can bring and have a chance to ask any questions, they’ll be far likelier to get excited about hot desking in the workplace.

Create a best practice guide for employees

Ensure everyone understands how to use the new hot desking system by creating a best practice guide or tip sheet. You can create this however you like, but be sure to make it accessible and circulate it amongst everyone in your organization. When your employees have set rules and expectations on how to share desks, it becomes fairer for everyone. The more people respect one another in the office, the better the environment and overall experience will be for everyone.

Clean spaces regularly

While we can never fully get rid of germs, we can do our best to prevent them from spreading. Embed a cleaning schedule into your hot desk policy. For example, if you are 100% onsite and using hot desking, then you should have a daily cleaning schedule. If you are mainly remote, with a few folks booking hot desks once or twice a week, then you may choose a cleaning schedule that aligns only with those days.

Collect data and feedback

Finally, when your hot desking solution is in full flight, don’t consider the job done. Collect regular feedback to ensure long-term success and improve employee happiness and productivity. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as monthly surveys or a suggestion box. Combine this with data you’re seeing from desk analytics to understand how desks are being used, including how often and who’s booking them. Gaining better insight on your hot desk policy will help you understand areas to improve, as well as celebrate the things your people love about hot desking.

Hot desking is not a new concept, but it has gone through a major transformation. With better technology and smarter workplaces, hot desking is now a far cry from the stressful and unorganized experience it once was. 

Still curious about hot desking? Take a look at Envoy Desks to learn more about different features and benefits it can bring to your business.

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Amy Kirkham
Author Bio Amy Kirkham

Amy is a content guru at Envoy, where she helps workplace leaders build a workplace their people love. Outside of work, you can usually find Amy drinking coffee, exploring new places, or planning her next trip.