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What is Hot Desking & Why Your Office Needs it Now

Once reserved for hip coworking spaces, hot-desking has now become the norm in many hybrid offices. As companies become more and more flexible both in their policies, and the layout of their spaces, organizations are redesigning their offices to include hot desks. Although most of you probably know what is hot desking, for those who don’t, let’s take a step back for a hot minute. Although a hot desk on a cold day sounds ideal, hot desking has little to do with temperature.

What is Hot Desking?

What is hot desking in business spaces? Rather than having one specific assigned desk to work in, employees can choose to work in whichever desk suits them best. This is the simple explanation to the question, what is hot desking.

Hot desking works best with hybrid companies (which let’s face it, most companies are these days), but doesn’t quite suit organizations that have employees on fixed schedules who also attend the office 5 days a week. In these cases, you probably wouldn’t want to let employees have a free-for-all on desk space, since every day would likely be a battle for one’s favorite spot. Also, just logistically speaking and resource-wise, employees who require physical tools, such as landlines, printers/scanners, etc., to perform their daily tasks, most likely would benefit from their own office space, or a fixed desk providing all these items in close proximity.

More on the logistics around what is hotdesking and how to do it, under the section ‘How do hot desks work?’.

Why is it called hot desk?

If you’re familiar with sailing then you may have heard the term ‘hot-racking’ or ‘hot-bunking’. Both terms refer to the naval practice of sailors sharing bunks with those on different shifts than them. Rather than having a permanent bunk assigned for every sailor, they would rotate with others, and share a bunk based on their rotating shift schedules. The same concept applies to hot desking.

Hot Desking 101

Your first question may be, what is a hot desking policy? Depending on the size of your organization, the percentage of employees coming into the office, and your space regulations, you may or may not require employees to pre-select and/or check-in to their hot desk. Details like this, will all be included in your hot desking policies. Here’s your quick hot desking 101 run down to demonstrate what is a hot desking system and how it works.

How Do Hot Desks Work?

We already covered what is hot desking, but now let’s go through 2 hot desking examples to demonstrate how hot desks work in both of the following situations:

1) Pre-selection/Hot Desk Check-in required

Employees are required to pre-select their desk, and/or check-in at their hot desk upon arrival. While some companies are still using Excel spreadsheets to handle desk booking, wiser companies use these instead.

Whether you use a spreadsheet or a hot desk booking software, the main steps to book a desk include:

  • Request a particular desk, either from your office admin (who later adds it to the Excel) or from a desk booking app where you request the space yourself. Your desk request may have an automatic approval (if you’re using software), while an old-school Excel will likely have you waiting for manual approval. 😩
  • Once your desk is approved, locate it on the office floor plan so you know where to go upon arrival.
  • In the office, simply find your desk, take a seat, and get to work!
  • If check-in is required upon arrival, you’ll either need to notify your office admin or, do it automatically, by checking into your hot desk app.
  • Avoid check-in hassle by using Where. When you make your booking, you’re automatically be checked in. If you decide to no longer come to the office, or you want to modify your selected space, you can update your desk selection in Slack, using Where.

2) No Hot Desk Pre-selection/Check-in required

What if you still want to allow employees the freedom to work where they want, but you have a space capacity limit? In this case, the following would be the protocol.

  • Employees select a working space, ie. the main floor.
  • Upon arrival, they drop in and sit at any desk they’d like.
  • Most desk booking apps only let you select desks, but don’t allow for the option of choosing spaces. With Where, you can have both!
  • If you plan to work in one space all day, but know you’ll be moving around quite a bit, ie. for meetings, out-of-the-office lunch, etc. then booking into a space is much more convenient than needing to book into multiple desks in the same day.

If you already know which method your company is taking when it comes to hot-desking, and you’re looking for the right tool to use, check out a detailed list of the top 5 alternatives to Envoy, a popular desk booking app.

Why Your Office Needs to Offer Hot Desking!

If you’re asking what is the purpose of hot desking, you probably aren’t fully convinced about incorporating it into your organizational space just yet, but here are a few reasons why you should.

1. Better Space Optimization

Hybrid companies don’t commonly have 100% of their workforce in the office. For this reason, finding a way to optimize the space you have should be your focus. The space also needs to adapt to the changes in your office. Say, for example, once a year, your employees are required to come into the office for a week-long team training, which is offered at different points in the year. Depending on how many employees are in that week, desks and spaces can be rearranged easily to accommodate the extra employees coming for the training.

In another example, if you notice that only 30% of your workforce is coming into the office instead of the anticipated 50%, why not rearrange your desk space, split a portion of the area into hot desks, and/or create an open collaborative space for employees to enjoy.

2. It’s Cost-Effective

Less space to serve more people...isn’t that a great concept! Taking the last example from the previous point, if only a small portion of your workforce is coming into the office, why not change those previously fixed desks into hot desks and rent them out for an improved ROI on the cost of the space.

3. It’s Flexible

If your team's working style is flexible, why shouldn’t your desk spaces be too?

Fact #1 - The more flexible and collaborative your work environment, the more likely your employees are to come in.

Fact #2 - Rigid and blah aren’t very inspiring, so why not switch things up once in a while, and play around with your office floorplan.

Is Hot Desking the Right Working Model for You?

If after reviewing why your office needs to offer hot desking, you’re still not sure about it, it’s worth looking more into the nitty-gritty of hot desking advantages and disadvantages. But, before doing so, here’s a little exercise to help you figure out whether hot desking is the best approach to space management for your company.

List out 5-10 of your company's priority/pain points when it comes to space management; then rate them on a scale of importance. By rating your pain points on a scale of importance, and evaluating that alongside the advantages and disadvantages of hot desking you’ll be able to get clear on whether hot desking is best for your team, based on what’s most important to your company.

So, there you have it. You should have a pretty clear idea about what is hot desking and why your office needs it now! And, if you’re looking for a hot desking solution, check us out!

Enough of this sheet!

Ditch the spreadsheet, ‘Where’ is a more social way to schedule your days in the office and see where everyone’s working from....all right in Slack.