Dec 16, 2020

What is Hot Desking?

Ad-hoc desk booking, free seating, open office, we have many names for the things we love.
You have probably encountered these terms before. After all, free seating, where employees select an available desk upon arrival instead of having an assigned desk, has become a new norm in offices around the world. But what does hot desking really mean, and how can it be used in your office? In this blog post, we will go over the basics.

Hot desking is thought to originate from a common practice within military organizations, where submarine crews were assigned to shared beds depending on their shift. Instead of having one bed assigned per person, the submarine could reduce the number of sleeping racks and therefore maximize space. Because of the limited space in a submarine, this was a needed system to set in place.

Even though offices today do not share the common problem with space limitations, Hot desking has developed to mean even more than just effective space utilization. Hot desking, or ad-hoc seating, is today considered to be a driving force in innovation, cooperation, flexibility, and team building. When we are no longer tied to a single workstation, we are also more likely to meet people we normally do not encounter, and more likely to start collaborations between departments.

What does Hot Desking mean?

Hot desking is at its core a system where employees take desks upon arrival at the office instead of booking (as in Desk Hoteling) in advance or having an assigned seat. If you have ever visited a co-working space, this is probably what you have encountered. Hot Desking is often used to improve the utilization of office space when more and more of the employees work from home, or in specific areas of the office where employees meet. Hot desking is also a way for companies to promote cross-department collaboration. In the traditional model with fixed seating, departments often stay for themselves, minimizing the chances of collaborations and discussions. Think about the great advantages if the sales team regularly found themselves working alongside the developers, or if the marketing department could get strategic insights from the business department by sitting next to them?

Even though Hot desking is a good tool to promote office flexibility, it is also a good tool to maximize your facility usage. Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, many more are estimated to work partly from home in a more flexible working solution. This, in turn, raises questions about how our office facilities should be organized. If employees work from home 50% of the time, fixed desks will only take up unnecessary space. Hot desking is a solution for this problem because different people can share the same space and the same desk space, given that they are not at the office at the same time. In the end, this is cost savings that can save your company at least 30% of your facility costs.

Hot desking can also be used to free up more space and create other types of office spaces,
community spaces for team building and activity can be implemented in the places where assigned desks held the most space. This can in turn create an office environment where workshops, meetings and events are held instead of everyday work, increasing the satisfaction of your workforce.

What is the point of Hot Desking?


The point of hot desking and having ahoc desking solution is to keep remote workers in touch with each other. It allows them to work without having to be logged in to a particular computer and can be used as meeting rooms, a social space, or a temporary workplace. The most common purpose for hot desking is to encourage social interaction among the team, but it could also be a great way to welcome new employees into the team. In addition, having spaces with hot desks makes it easy to clean and maintain. It's also a good option for those companies who are on a budget and might want to free up some desk space and have fewer empty desks, and instead turn them into hot desks for a more flexible working experience.

The point of hot desking is to provide employees with flexibility. This is important for many reasons, including productivity. Some workers prefer to have a conversational environment, while others enjoy a quieter setting. Regardless of how a person works, they can choose their workspace with the freedom to move around. With hot desking you give the employees the flexibility to sit and work in the place they are most comfortable.

If the point of hot desking is to foster collaboration and learn new skills, then it's a good
idea. However, the point of hot desking is also to develop relationships with co-workers. The other benefit of hot desking is the increased ability to share ideas. When this is done properly, the benefits of hot desking and working with other people are significant. So, with hot desking you have the ability to improve the overall quality of the workplace.

One way of looking at hot desking is to have it create a more communicative office space. The concept of hot desks has become popular in recent years because it makes work more flexible. The traditional office structure discourages working with colleagues who hold important titles, and different teams. Besides, it forces employees to take part in various activities, which could affect the company's productivity.

Does Hot Desking really work?


The benefits of hot desking are well known. Apart from freeing up space in a workspace, it can also reduce the costs associated with running workstations. In addition to this, it can promote cross-departmental communication, collaboration, and agile working, which is good for the health of the company and its employees. However, before implementing this practice, it is important to know the limitations and the possible risks involved. Maybe it might also be a good idea to have a hot desking policy for all the shared workspaces, quiet rooms, and conference rooms for example.

Problems with Hot Desking

Even though hot desking has many benefits there is also some limitation to this kind of Desk Management system, and not everyone of your employees at your company might be a big fan. First of all, it can be difficult to find colleagues when needed if the seating is not clear, often resulting in time being allocated to searching the office. However, this can be avoided by adapting a colleague finder software system. In this way, the desk location of employees can be visible on a map, indicating where your colleagues are located. Flowscape provides a 3D map of your office called the Flowmap, which updates the colleague’s location in real-time and tells you which desk they are seated at, which makes for much better office management. Read more about our colleague finder solution here.

Three problems with Hot Desking, and how to solve them.

Another problem with hot desking is the lack of planning, if desks are not bookable, seating cannot be effectively planned. Let us say that you have an important project together with your team where you need to work closely together for a period of time. If there are no ways to book desks, there is a chance that desks can be taken upon arrival. Therefore, it is suggested that there also be bookable desks available, so called a Desk Hoteling solution for teams to book for example. There is still no need for fixed seating. If it is possible to book some of the desks, team projects can be managed by booking a group of seats in advance. Flowscape’s solution provides companies with a booking option, where desks can be booked on spot or in advance using a mobile app or a web browser, read more about this desk management solution here.

Implementing hot desking – what you should think about

A combination of hot desking and Desk Hoteling is our recommended option to provide a flexible work environment and effective collaboration for companies with multiple employees on flexible schedules. Even though the problems stated above has been shown to be effectively managed, there are some things worth thinking about before deciding if hot desking is right for you.

Flowscape in 30 seconds

What are your office culture and office space like?

Would your employees be positive about this type of change or do they prefer a more fixed solution? It is important to have a discussion with your teams in order to understand their needs and wants when it comes to their office space. Ask yourself what the long-term goal of implementing hot desking should be. Is it to create a more collaboration-based facility or to save facility cost? Make a clear plan that can resonate with your workforce.

What type of equipment do your employees need?

Because the hot desking solution means taking the desk available, you need to consider the
equipment needed for your employee’s everyday work. Do your desks need computer screens? Laptop plug-ins? Do you need lockers for personal items? Implementing Hot Desking often require a substantial re-organization of your office, if you want more help regarding how to effectively organize your office, feel free to contact us.

When implementing hot desking, you will also need to install desk sensors in order to indicate to your employees which desks are occupied, and which are free within a specific workspace. Flowscape provides sensor options for your installation, read more about our sensors here. In this way, you can make sure that your hot desking solution is easy, manageable and gives you maximum flexibility.

Do you need hot desk restrictions for certain areas?

It is possible that certain zone restrictions are needed so that a specific workspace of your office can only be used by certain departments. In this case, it is important to discuss how you want these zone restrictions to look like. It is possible to restrict access in a number of ways, either by using Flowscape’s technology and in-built solutions or by integrating the Flowmap with your existing IT systems, like access control spots. Contact our experts to get more information on how to use zone restrictions.

In summary – is hot desking for you?

Hot desking is overall a great solution for your business and office and can be implemented in many ways, for all your desks or only some of your desks. With a strategic plan and with expert guidance, hot desking can provide both employee satisfaction and reduce the facility costs for your business. If you are interested and want more guidance in how hot desking can be implemented to fulfil the specific needs of your company, contact our sales team and we will help you in the process.

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