Running Your Business

The Benefits of Hot Desking (and Some Drawbacks) for Employees and Clients

  • In a mobile world, physical presence in the workplace is becoming increasingly less important

  • Some employers are taking advantage of this shift, introducing hot desking to save money on furniture and offer more flexibility

  • Hot desking can be very beneficial for certain offices but disruptive to productivity in others

Posted by March 6, 2020

Though the term may be new, the concept really isn’t. Hot desking refers to work environments that don’t have dedicated desks for employees. Instead, shared workspaces are made available, allowing people to be more mobile in the office or collaborate more easily on projects.

The benefits of hot desking can be significant in environments where employees are always on the go, and when employers want the flexibility of providing space when needed without having to make a large investment—be it a larger office space or underused furniture.

The Benefits of Hot Desking—and Some Drawbacks

As workforces become increasingly mobile and remote, hot desking makes a lot of sense. For employers, it can reduce costs while accommodating continually fluctuating workspace needs. These workspaces also tend to look less cluttered, since employees pack up their personal and work items when they leave the space. Employees appreciate having space available when they need to come into the office to work or attend meetings.

These spaces can be mobile as well. One company put wheels on workstations to make it easy for employees to move them wherever they needed to be. The portability of workstations also facilitates collaboration with different employees or teams, in a variety of settings. Through these interactions, hot desking can encourage resource sharing and innovation.

But there are some drawbacks to consider, such as:

  • It may take employees longer to actually start working if they’re unable to find a place to sit.
  • Without a dedicated desk, employees lose the opportunity to personalize their space and share information about their hobbies, family, achievements, etc.

  • Employees may be uncomfortable working in an open environment, and they may find the ever-changing atmosphere distracting and disruptive to their productivity.

Is Hot Desking Right for Your Organization?

For many organizations, the benefits of hot desking may well outweigh the drawbacks. When considering this option, think about:

  • The mobility of your workforce. If employees frequently move from place to place to interact with clients or coworkers in multiple offices, hot desking may suit your business well.

  • The extent to which you rely on contractors. If you work frequently with temporary workers, vendors, consultants, etc., offering them a place to sit and work while they’re on-site will likely be greatly appreciated.

  • Your company culture. An office that focuses on efficiency, flexibility and mobility is likely to appreciate the elements of hot desking.

A number of well-known companies have begun to use hot desking, including Microsoft, Lego, Square, Deloitte and Citigroup. The positions that best lend themselves to this type of work arrangement are those that are called away from their desk or the office for long periods: salespeople, consulting staff, freelance or contract workers, etc.

Keep in mind, hot desking doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation. It can be applied to segments of your traditional workspace, leaving some permanent desks for those with more office-bound roles. Having even a little of this flexible space is likely to be appreciated by visiting clients, prospective employees and members of your staff who need a change of scenery from time to time to thrive.

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