Hot Desking might just be the solution to enable a hybrid workforce – and the future for hot desking looks promising in many aspects. But adapting something new raises important questions about implementation, benefits and how it can be done right.
How can companies create spaces that are both cost effective, and employee centered? And is it possible for hot desking to benefit employers as well as employees? Here are 10 things you should consider when selecting a Hot desking solution.
Hot Desking might just be an employee benefit
Today, spaces are not merely spaces in which people conduct tasks, it’s a space where the company culture thrives, where innovation flourishes, networks build, and collaboration take place. The physical space we inhabit is seen as an extension of values, personality, and culture, rather than a fixed staple created by necessity.
In spite of the pandemic, the view of the modern office persists. 89% responded in a survey conducted by Savills (2020) believed that the office will continue to be an important asset, especially in combating isolation and loneliness that stems from remote working practices. The office has found its new purpose; becoming the place where company intent and culture prospers.
Company Culture might be more important than previously thought. For starters, company culture has time and time again shown to have a positive correlation with increased company revenue (Brower 2021). In an interview with Computer World, Krishnamurthy from Freespace (2021) stated that overall work culture today is one of the key reasons why employees leave their current employer to explore others. With this is mind, it comes to no surprise that the great resignation during 2021 followed the most widespread work-from-home orders we have seen in modern history.
Our Office spaces might just be the vessel for employee retention, but how do we optimize our spaces? Hot Desking is often implemented with potential cost savings in mind, completely neglecting the many employee benefits it actually provides. Hot Desking has the potential to increase variety in spaces and environments to choose from, all optimized for different work tasks that foster collaboration and productivity. Today, when 60% of employers report issues with maintaining employee morale, and 30% report issues with maintaining company culture in hybrid work models (Brower 2021), it comes to no surprise that collaboration on site will be crucial for company growth and employee experience in the future.
Understanding the benefits of hot desking is one thing, but successfully implementing it with a hesitant work force is another. Here are the 10 most important things to consider when selecting a Hot desking Solution.
1. Understand how your employees work and what they need
The need for individual office space varies greatly between companies, departments, and individual employees. Hot desking might not affect some people at all and might greatly reduce productivity and security for others. It’s crucial that the number of personal workspaces are enough to sustain the variety of interests and needs within your specific company.
It’s also important to understand that different departments might have different requirements for individual workspaces. Sales representatives who are often on-the-go or working from home can benefit greatly from hot desking, but finance personnel who need more office resources and seldomly travel might need to keep their assigned seats in order to work effectively.
Before implementing hot desking, make sure you have done your research on your particular office. A combination of sensor analytics on the actual usage of each resource, plus interviews with employees and surveys will get you a long way in understanding how your office should be designed for the new hybrid work requirements. Flowscape provides great analytic tools that can help you understand the office utilization without spending countess hours and resources on manual measurements.
2. Activity-based principles should also be applied to your Hot Desks
It’s easy to assume that all induvial spaces are the same; a desk with screens where employees can conduct individual work. But the truth if that the philosophy of activity-based working applies to our individual workspaces as well. The normal desk setting of cubicles does provide support for many different types of work tasks, but the benefit with hot desking is that they no longer have to be generic. Giving your employees to opportunity to choose between different types of Hot Desks will increase the employee experience, and make your employees love the new flexibility.
Some different types of spaces you might want to include are:
For the employees that would prefer a quiet area to work in, create rooms or areas that provide privacy with little to no disruptions. This can take the form of rooms, or open zones with clear signage. Make sure to add phone booths or similar in close proximity to the quiet area to ensure that employees can take phone calls without disturbing others.
Single person meeting rooms
In a hybrid work environment, it’s difficult to assess how many people that will actually attend an internal meeting on-site, single person meetings that where uncommon pre-pandemic are today normal. Adding huddle rooms adapted for one-person meetings is an easy way to keep larger meeting rooms available while keeping individual work zones calm. Replacing some assigned seats with huddle spaces will be necessary to keep the hybrid workflow functioning without interfering with others individual worktime.
Ad-hoc desks or touch down spaces
Some workstations could be designed for momentary work. Touch down spaces can be spread around the office to give employees a chance to paus temporarily, work briefly together or conduct some small work tasks while waiting for a meeting to start. This will also make bookable work desks available for the people who need it.
Open Work Areas
Open work areas are an excellent way to encourage employees to socialize and strengthen the overall company bonds. Cafes and restaurants are excellent additions to create a lively and vibrant work area that your employees will love, and also optimal for after work activities.
Traditionally, meeting rooms have been seen as the optimal collaboration area, but there are many different ways in which collaboration areas can be designed. This can include brainstorming rooms with standing tables and whiteboards, AV rooms specialized for making interactive video conferencing meetings, all the way to project rooms with large projector screens for large gatherings. Make sure that your office has a wide variety in options available.
3. Make good use of zones and neighborhoods
Having a completely open floorplan with free seating can create a sense of frustration and confusion. People generally experience difficulties in making decisions when a surplus of options is presented to them, which makes on-site work challenging instead of effective. Hot Desking can be made both easy and effective by introducing neighborhoods to your office space. This can be the form of neighborhoods designated to specific departments or zones designed after specific work tasks. Having zones based on departments will also simplify colleague finding. In summary, make sure to view your office as a large space containing smaller communities, rather than one single area of space.
4. Create good storage options for employees
Hot Desking and storage go hand-in-hand, and Hot Desking will not survive without proper storage options. The most common employee complaints in Hot Desking environments center around how personal items should be handled, both regarding where to store items and how much employees are expected to carry with them. Make sure to have storage units evenly distributed in your office space, so there are always some available in close proximity to each zone or neighborhood.
How employees experience the user-flow of the office will directly determine how successful your Hot Desking Implementation will be. One of the easiest ways to create a seamless user experience is by focusing on the first step in the process; finding available seats. Desk booking solutions are the most optimal way to create both certainty and a frictionless user flow. It’s important that employees feel that they can easily settle down at their space as soon as they walk through the door.
Interactive 3D maps will become especially important if you have a large office area. Just like any interactive map, these will help employees guide their way around the office and find workspaces effectively. A Kiosk screen is an excellent way of providing both wayfinding and an unbeatable office overview. Mobile app and Web applications can also be used to provide easy wayfinding and resource overview when needed.
Whether your employees want to book in advance or take a desk upon arrival, Flowscape’s booking tool provides an easy solution that can provide both options with efficiency and ease.
6. Make sure employees can find the resources that they need.
Hot Desking creates more flexibility and office mobility but can make it difficult for especially new employees to find important office resources that they will need throughout the day. Resources can include storage for special equipment, copy machines, restrooms or first aid kits. Interactive 3D maps make sure that all important necessities are shown on the map, making them easy to find.
7. Desk equipment will be more important than ever
Changing seats on a daily basis will make it even more important to have relevant equipment ready at each work desk. It will also be important for employees to easily access a list of desks with the equipment present visible. Make sure to decide beforehand what should be available at every workstation, what should be available only at certain activity-based workstations and what equipment should be handed out to the employees that might need it. Equipment to consider would be keyboards and mouse, screens, power outlets, decor, and dongles. Hand sanitation and wipes could also be worth considering.
8. Test a Hot Desking system before you decide
A common mistake we see is that companies decide to implement hot desking system for the entire office at once, which is often costly and ineffective. In the worst-case scenario, money is spent on a system that fails to solve the problems at hand, or the changes are implemented so quickly that employees don’t have time to adjust. Either way, it’s a problem that is easily avoided by testing the system on a smaller area during a pilot period.
We recommend all companies to run a trial period on one of two zones, and map out potential issues before moving on to the rest of the office. Potential problems will be easier to solve before large implementation starts.
9. Communicate the changes with employees beforehand
To make sure that the employees don’t get confused of sudden office changes, communicate future plans and new solutions early on and invite them to have open discussions about the changes. Make sure that the employees well-being is always considered and give them the opportunity to share the excitement of the new areas and zones that will be created.
10. Analyze, discuss, and improve continuously
Once Hot Desking is in place, many companies make the mistake to leave “as is”, without thinking about following up the results of the new office changes. Make sure to install sensors on your resources so you can analyze the usage of your new office space in real time. Sensor technology in combination with regular employee surveys will help you understand how the office is used and what will need further attention.
For example, you might find that some type of collaboration spaces are used more than others, giving you the opportunity to change and expand as you go. You might also find that the number of desks needed might change over time and having the data available will allow you to quickly implement changes when needed, without compromising employee’s regular workflow.
In the end, Hot Desking is used to give autonomy and flexibility for employees and making sure they can work in an office environment that inspires and drives them. Hot desking is one effective way of giving employees more spaces to choose from, and with the right Hot Desking solution in place, will also give them security and predictability.
By creating a solid plan with clear implementation steps where employees can be part of the process, Hot Desking can create a new and exciting office environment where employees thrive.
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