Published: Jul 20 2021

Hot Desking 101

The successful rise of remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in how office spaces are organized and considered. Instead of being a momentary part of the era, hot desking has become a staple of modern working life for many businesses worldwide.

However, despite the success of hot desking, there are still numerous questions surrounding the topic.

What is Hot Desking?

Hot desking is a flexible workplace strategy in which employees are not assigned specific sits and choose where they sit on a first-come, first-served basis. Unlike the historical workplace, there are no formal reservation systems, each time an employee comes into the office may be the first time they sit at their specific desk.

For many, this is a strange development and quite the departure from the previous normal. However, hot desking does provide several immediate benefits for both organizations and employees, including:

  • Improved space utilization
  • Guaranteed access to power outlets and phones
  • Easily bookable meeting rooms
  • Reduced real estate costs for the organization
  • A more organized office space with less overall clutter
  • Easier cleaning and facility maintenance

Hot desking is relatively simple for employees. Simply find a desk, plug in your computer and get to work.

What is Hot Desking?

What is the Point of Hot Desking?

Even as hot desking becomes more prevalent across organizations, many employees may still wonder why? What’s the point?

If there is one thing the pandemic taught organizations with office spaces, it is how flexible employees are when it comes to their workspace. The move to remote work has been a boon for many organizations, allowing them to downsize their office space and even move to full-time remote work.

Companies like WeWork have taken advantage of this opportunity to promote quick desking possibilities for companies who don’t want to spend inordinate prices on real estate. Hot desking, however, allows organizations to control the spaces that their employees work in while continuing to lower their real estate costs.

Hot desking can help bridge the gap between the classic workspace and fully remote work.

What are the Challenges of Hot Desking?

Despite the immediate cost benefits of hot desking, it does have some drawbacks, including:

  • Loss of preferred workspaces
  • Competition for individual desks
  • Difficulty tracking how desks have been used
  • Loss of personal touches

The popularity of hot desking and specific spaces needs to be taken into account before fully committing to the model.

Are there areas of your business that employees are competitive towards? Are your employees attached to their own workspace? The main challenge of hot desking can be the loss of personality within the desks. It can be difficult to attach yourself to an office space or even to the company if an employee feels a lack of ownership.

Hot desking can also make it challenging for employees to find their colleagues if there is no specific seating. Make sure to plan for this when implementing hot desking – there needs to be a benefit to coming into the office vs. remote work.

Hot Desking vs. Office Hoteling

The terms hot desking vs. office hoteling are often used interchangeably, but they are different things. Office hoteling is similar, but it requires employees to reserve their workspace prior to arriving at the office.

If your employees are struggling with the randomness of hot desking, office hoteling may be the right alternative to pursue. As the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, office hoteling can also be helpful for planning if you need to limit the number of people in the office each day to maintain social distancing and spacing.

Should You Consider Hot Desking?

Before moving to hot desking, organizations should do their research to find out if hot desking is or isn’t right for their organization. While the benefits of hot desking might be significant, the challenges and drawbacks can hinder the project before it gets off the ground. For organizations working with sensitive information, more private spaces may be needed.

Regardless, as the move to remote work over the last year has shown, flexible seating plans have shown that they may be the way of the future. Whether hot desking or office hoteling, organizations need to be open to finding the best way to implement these strategies.

Accruent’s cloud-based workspace management and desk hoteling software offers a simple, flexible process that fits seamlessly into your established workflows using tools you already have to gives you greater visibility into how your space is being used.

Learn more about how Accruent's EMS hot desking software can help you support flexible, activity-based workspaces.