What is hot desking and why does your office need it now?

Oct 19, 2020
Hot desking is a flexible setting arrangement where employees can reserve a desk for the day. If this concept is new to you, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to break down what hot desking is—and why your office needs it now.
Madison Stein
Head of Brand and Content Alumni
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For many who are currently working from home and missing the office, your desk brings back feelings of nostalgia. Remember friendly co-workers greeting you when you arrived at work? Maybe you decorated your desk with plants or pictures of friends and family. Or you were the person who had stacks of papers, post-its, and old cups of coffee laying around. Either way, your desk was your space in the office. Now, in the post-COVID workplace, permanent desk assignments have become rare because fewer employees are coming into the office every day. Instead, modern workplaces are adopting a more flexible model with hot desking. If this concept is new to you, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to break down what hot desking is —and why your office needs it.

What is hot desking?

Hot desking is a flexible setting 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. This is often short-term, on-demand desk reservations that employees make the same day or a day in advance. Desk hoteling, on the other hand, is another flexible seating arrangement that allows employees to reserve a desk for a set period of time. These are often longer-term reservations, for days, or even weeks, or even months. Hot desking is often found in hybrid workplaces that allow employees to choose where they work. If an employee doesn’t come into the office every day, from 9-5, then it doesn’t make sense for them to have a permanently assigned desk. That would leave desks vacant for long periods of time, making poor use of expensive office real estate. While flexible work schedules and hot desking used to be dependent on company culture, COVID-19 has essentially made them a mandate.

COVID-19 and the rise of hot desking

Businesses are adapting as they begin the slow migration back into the office. They’re implementing health questionnaires to ensure employees aren’t feeling sick before coming into the office. They’re investing in capacity management tools to make sure employees can maintain social distancing. Only a fraction of employees can work in the office safely, which gives employees the choice to work where they are most productive: at home or in the office. Enter hot desking. With this flexible seating strategy, you can determine which desks are bookable. Many companies are adopting a checker-board desk approach where every other desk bookable so that employees can maintain six feet apart. Then, when employees plan to work in the office, they can reserve a desk just for the day that they plan to be on-site. The COVID use-case goes beyond social distancing for employees. Hot desking gives you accurate information on desk usage so you can sanitize the space before it’s booked by someone else the next day. But hot desking existed long before COVID shook the world and the benefits will outlast that of the pandemic as well.

The benefits of hot desking

Even before the pandemic, businesses were looking for ways to modernize their office space. Not only to foster teamwork and efficiency but also to attract new talent. Today’s workforce expects flexibility, collaboration, and innovation. Hot desking helps businesses meet these demands and more. Here are the main benefits of hot desking for both businesses and employees in the safe, flexible workplace:

  • Safety and sanitation. Hot desking gives you the ability to determine what desks are available to reserve based on your office’s capacity and social distancing guidelines. This way you can be sure that employees have a safe space to work in the office. Having a daily usage log efficiently directs your janitorial team to the desks that need to be sanitized between guests.
  • Flexibility. Hot desking gives employees the freedom and flexibility to work where they are most productive. If they plan to come into the office, they can book a desk where they can do their best work but they’re not tied to one space. If they need to work from home to care for a family member, then they can free up a desk in the office. This gives them autonomy over what their daily work environment looks and feels like.
  • Collaboration and Productivity. Changing up who you sit near every day can have a positive impact on productivity and collaboration. Hot desking encourages employees to meet and talk to team members who they wouldn’t normally interact with. Instead of teams sitting in silos, hot desking encourages more cross-functional interactions.
  • Cost savings. Traditional permanent seating assignments are expensive because they require more space. Employees working from home or from smaller, remote offices may leave desks unused. Hot desking cuts down on this wasted space by allowing businesses to cut real estate costs and make better use of their existing space.
  • Data-driven decision-making. Hot desking gives you insights into how your space is being used so you can spot trends and make better use of your space. Plus you get data to help you make smart, informed business decisions as you plan for future real estate needs.
  • Uncluttered workspace. Hot desking makes for tidier workplaces in general. With fewer personal items or stacks of paper cluttering desk space, you get a cleaner, more organized office.

The downsides of hot desking

Of course, hot desking may not be the best fit for every office. There are downsides that could affect employees:

  • Employees could miss having their own space to personalize.
  • Settling at a new desk each day could be disruptive to employees who like to have a routine.
  • Hot desking could make it harder to communicate in person if you don’t have an easy way to find where teammates are sitting.

One of the best ways to know if hot desking is right for your business is to consider your company culture and the evolving needs of your employees. If your office focuses on safety, efficiency, flexibility, and mobility then you’ll be more likely to reap the benefits of hot desking. As you’re considering hot desking for your workplace, you’ll want to look for a solution that works seamlessly with your existing tech stack and keeps your space flexible. Envoy recently announced a new hot desking solution that meets those requirements: Envoy Desks. With Desks, employees will be able to reserve a desk for the day as part of their Protect registration process. Workplace leaders will have the flexibility to ensure each workstation is being used effectively, no space is being wasted, and their teams have what they need to stay safe, healthy, and productive.

Learn more about how you can use Desks to simplify hot desking and create a safer, more flexible workplace.

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AUTHOR BIO
Head of Brand and Content Alumni

Madison is a writer, story-teller, and problem-solver at Envoy, where she inspires workplace teams to make the workplace work better. When she's not thinking of clever puns in the office, you can find her on the beach with her dog, planning her next vacation, or exploring new restaurants in San Francisco.

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