In the wake of Covid-19, one study found that 77% of professionals wanted greater flexibility in how and where they worked. As a result, organizations are brainstorming and debating several ideas to manage the workspace effectively. One method is hot desking.
Hot Desks have been used to tackle the space crunch issues that most modern workplaces suffer from. With more employees opting for a hybrid/flexible working model, organizations are looking at solutions like hot-desking to cut unnecessary expenses and increase their sustainability level. This article will take a look at what hot desking is all about, the pros and cons of hot desking, and how offices are shifting in general.
What Is Hot Desking?
Hot desking is a workplace arrangement that allocates a single physical workstation or surface to multiple workers. The ‘desk’ refers to a table, or a workspace shared between multiple workers through different shifts, instead of the traditional approach where each worker has their assigned, personal desk. A ‘hot’ desk signifies that the workstation or the allocated space does not get time to cool down between two consecutive allocations.
The idea of hot desking dates back to the marines as they would take shifts sleeping in bunks due to the shortage of available beds. This concept was introduced in the 1990s to corporate work culture and has been in practice in shared workspaces since.
Hot desking is often done on a first-come, first-serve basis. Employees arrive at the office and find an available space. If there are no spaces available, they must wait for a workstation to open. To manage capacity, some companies may also ask employees to reserve their hot desk in advance.
Pros of Hot Desks
The reason that hot desks are growing in popularity is that they offer employers and employees multiple benefits. Some of the benefits include:
- Availability at short notice: If you see an empty desk, it’s yours.
- Improved workplace organization: Reduces the number of tables and desks, improves floor organization, and reduces office clutter.
- More choice for employees: Provides employees with more autonomy and control, as they are not tied to a single seat. It also communicates an organization’s confidence in its employees to deliver results, regardless of where they physically work.
- Cost-cutting: Decreases operational expenses for an organization by tweaking and managing workplace space and furniture more efficiently.
- Improved collaboration: Opens up floor plans for better collaboration. Employees have more opportunities to talk with people from different verticals and horizontals.
Cons of Hot Desks
There are also negatives when it comes to implementing hot desks. The main drawbacks include:
- No more personal spaces: There are no private spaces. The lack of personalization can harm some employees’ productivity and employee experience.
- Disruption of office hierarchy: By making all seats available to everyone and removing team workspace boundaries, hot-desking may disrupt long-standing office hierarchies, creating confusion.
- Possible lack of morale: The increase in autonomy may look like a lack of support to some professionals. Separating people from their team or managers can also negatively impact employee morale.
- Security concerns: Teams that deal with sensitive information will not be able to partake in host desking.
- Impact on productivity due to no space or limited choices: Hot desk offices can run out of space, forcing employees to wait for an open space. Additionally, an available workspace may not be optimal for everyone.
How Offices are Shifting Overall
Offices are starting to reopen and welcome back employees. As this process evolves, organizational leaders are brainstorming ways to operate more efficiently. Work arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic have given companies new insights, including how productivity is no longer tied to the office or working a certain number of hours. Most professionals are now prioritizing work-life balance, wellness and mental health, and hybrid work models.
Fewer employees In the Office
Many large organizations have adopted hybrid and remote work models. This gives their employees the choice to come into the office a few days per week or permanently work from home. As a result, fewer employees are returning to the office. As a result, workplace management has become more critical, so office spaces operate at peak efficiency.
Larger Space for Fewer Employees
Flexible work models are opening up workplace floorplans. Instead of 1:1 assignment of workstations to employees, hot desk office spaces have fewer desks than employees. This provides more open areas that organizations can reutilize towards employee motivation and wellbeing.
Open Floorplans for Collaboration
Shared workspaces and non-rigid workplace management practices foster better collaboration, made possible by their open floorplans. By optimizing workstations and related devices in an office, organizations decrease their carbon emissions and operational costs while creating larger spaces for meetings, huddles, and conferences.
Physical Offices are Still Necessary
The hybrid and remote work models do not equate to the end of physical office spaces, as some employees still prefer to work from the office. Research from the consulting firm, PWC, reveals that most US employees prefer a three-day-per-week office schedule when returning to the office. Less than one in five executives said they wanted to return to office as it was pre-pandemic. Furthermore, employees now view the office as a place of collaboration rather than a working space, which hot desking helps promote.
Experts estimate that 30% of all office spaces will be transformed into flexible workspaces by 2030. As real estate prices rise globally, hot desking will become even more lucrative to companies trying to minimize their operating costs. As the professional world continues to embrace the new normal of goal-driven work, where and how employees work will continue to be less important. So when you finally return to the office after the post-pandemic reopening, there is a good chance the hot desk model may be introduced at your workplace.