Things to Consider Before Implementing a Hot-Desking Policy

Operating a hybrid work policy is a great way to give your employees the flexibility they need, while still providing a space where everyone can come together to connect and collaborate. In this guide, we explain why hot desking may be exactly the solution you need. 

Key facts: 

  • Hot desking is a flexible office solution where employees aren’t assigned their own desks or offices. Instead, they use a booking system to reserve desks when they need to, usually for a day or a few hours at a time.

  • Since they don’t need to provide a desk for every employee, hybrid organisations that operate hot-desking policies can save money by opting for a smaller office space, 

  • A hot-desking policy could also help you to better use the space you have, maintain a clean and uncluttered office environment and encourage cross-functional collaboration.

What Is Hot Desking? 

Hot desking is an office organisational solution that allows employees to ‘book’ desks for a day or a few hours at a time. This is usually done through an online or app-based booking system. 

Hot desking is a particularly useful tool for hybrid organisations, since it allows you to reduce your overheads by moving to a smaller office — while still ensuring that everyone has access to the space they need to work. 

Four Questions to Ask Before Implementing Hot Desking in Your Organisation

Thinking about launching a hot-desking policy in your organisation? Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you do. 

1. Will You Provide Bookable Rooms and Private Spaces? 

Employees sometimes need to discuss sensitive information — or simply need space and quiet to focus. For this reason, you might want to consider making private rooms or pods available for your employees to book, in addition to desks in an open area. Setting up these bookable private areas is generally a better use of space than reserving offices for particular employees, especially if they’re only in the office part of the time. 

2. How Will You Handle Personal Items and Personalisation? 

Some employees like to personalise their workspaces with things like photos, trinkets and stationery — but this isn’t possible with a hot desking setup. It’s a good idea to talk to your employees before you launch your hot desking policy about how they’ll be able to personalise a space when they’re working in it and what they’ll need to remove at the end of the day. 

3. Will You Provide Access to Laptops and Other Movable Tech? 

Before implementing a hot desking policy, you’ll need to decide whether employees will bring their own individual equipment to work with them, or whether it will be provided with each desk. 

Many organisations take a hybrid approach to this: each employee has their own laptop that moves around with them, but other equipment like monitors, keyboards, telephones and even stationery is provided with each desk. 

What Are the Benefits of Hot Desking? 

Want to know if hot desking is worth it? Here are some of the benefits that a hot-desking policy could bring to your organisation: 

Increased Workplace Flexibility 

Most people’s jobs don’t look the exact same every day. Hot desking allows your employees to work flexibly, using the office as and when they need it and booking different spaces according to their workload. For example, employees could book desks in quieter areas on days when they know they’ll need to focus, but opt for a desk in an open office space on other days.  

Reduced Costs and Smaller Overheads

If you’re operating a hybrid work policy, you probably don’t need an office that’s big enough for 100% of your workforce. But you do need to make sure there’s space for employees to work comfortably and effectively when they need to. Hot desking can allow you to save money by opting for a smaller space while ensuring that employees will still have the space they need to work. 

More Opportunities for Collaboration

Hot desking means that employees sit next to different people every day. This creates more organic opportunities for people from different parts of the organisation to come together, share ideas and collaborate.  

Improved Use of Office Space

When employees are working from home part of the time, it doesn’t make much sense to assign them desks and offices that sit empty when they’re not in the office. Even if you decide not to (or can’t) downsize your office, you’ll be able to use the extra space for things like private booths, breakout spaces and even social areas.  

A Cleaner, Tidier Workspace

When hot desking is done properly, employees leave their desks clean and free of personal items, ready for someone else to use the next day. This can help you to maintain a tidier, cleaner, and less cluttered office space for everyone. 

What are the Disadvantages of Hot Desking? 

Here are some of the downsides of hot desking that you should consider before you implement it: 

Hot Desking Can Make It Difficult to Work With Sensitive Information 

Employees sometimes need to discuss confidential information, which is difficult in an open-plan office space. To make things easier, you should ensure that your office plan includes private rooms or soundproofed ‘phone booths’ that your employees can book when they need privacy. 

You Might Need to Convince People Who Are Resistant to Change

Some people might be reluctant to embrace a hot desking policy, simply because they’re resistant to change. They may be used to everyone having their own desks, and enjoy the familiarity of working in the same setting every day that they spend in the office. 

In these cases, you may be able to win people around by explaining some of the benefits of hot desking in a way that makes sense to them. For example, company leaders are more likely to be convinced when you explain the cost savings that hot desking can represent. Other employees might be more interested in the possibility of booking quiet spaces when they need to focus on their work. 

You’ll Lose Control Over Your Work Environment

Hot desking inherently means that employees have less control over their work environment on days when they’re working in the office. For example, if one employee needs to focus quietly on their work while another needs to spend most of the day on phone calls, it might be difficult for them to work next to each other. 

Again, one simple solution is to allow employees to book quiet spaces on days they need to focus. You could also encourage hybrid employees to schedule their focused work for days when they’re working remotely. 

Locating People in the Office Can Be Harder

Hot desking can make it more difficult to track down a colleague, even when they’re in the office. Instead of knowing they’ll be at their assigned desk, you might have to waste time looking for them. 

However, most of us are accustomed to communicating using online tools — even when we’re in the same building as our colleagues. This means that this is likely to be less of a problem than it would have been just a few years ago. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Hot Desking 

Here are the answers to some FAQs about hot desking to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your organisation: 

What Is the Point of Hot Desking? 

Hot desking allows you to optimise your office space by eliminating the need for empty desks when people are working remotely. It also helps employees to work flexibly, form relationships with their colleagues and keep the office neat and tidy.

Is Hot Desking a Good Idea? 

Hot desking can be a good idea if you work for a hybrid organisation that needs to reduce its overheads by moving to a smaller space. It’s also a good idea for organisations that want to encourage flexibility and increase cross-functional collaboration among their employees. 

Managing HR in a Hybrid Workplace

These days, many organisations take a hybrid approach to work. While this can have many benefits for employees and management alike, it can also make it tricky for HR teams to do their jobs effectively. 

Personio’s HRIS software allows you to digitalise the HR experience and ensure the employee journey runs smoothly from onboarding to exit. By using Personio to simplify and automate HR processes, you can get back the time you need to focus on what matters: people. 

Want to find out how Personio could help streamline your approach to HR? Book a free demo to find out more. 

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