At your office, you’re always willing to try out new methods that can save your company money. After all, for a growing business, a penny saved really is a penny earned. One system that got recommended to you is hot desking. You’re thinking of implementing it, but what’s the point?
The point of hot desking is to save your company money on desks, equipment, and office rent. You can also keep a tidier office, and you may even be able to lessen your company’s carbon footprint, benefiting the environment.
In this introductory article, we’ll explain more about hot desking and what the point of it even is. If you’re thinking of introducing hot desking into your office, we’ll walk you through whether that’s the right decision, so keep reading!
Hot desking is a buzzword you may have heard thrown around before, but what does it mean? It’s a system used for organizing an office. As the name implies, with hot desking, your employees all share the same space for work. It’s not necessarily a desk they use, as it can also be a workstation.
Obviously, not every employee is at the desk or workspace at the same time. That’d be lunacy, and your employees would never get anything done. Instead, hot desking involves a system of shifts. Employees in the office divide their time at the workstation, such as one covering the morning shift and the other the afternoon or evening shift.
What do the rest of the employees do while one works at the desk? It depends, but you have a few options. Perhaps the rest of the employees work from home while one or two cover the hot desk on say, Mondays and Fridays. Then, your work-from-home employees come in on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and work in the office while the original employees now do their jobs from home on those three days.
You could also just schedule it so only one employee is at the office in the morning, then another one in the afternoon, a third one in the evening, and so on and so forth.
Okay, so you understand more about hot desking and how it’s done. Now comes the biggest question: what’s the point of hot desking?
We’re not going to sit here and say that hot desking is an amazing solution for all offices. Even some who use a hot desking system don’t particularly like it or stick with it. It has both pros and cons, but since there are benefits to be had, that’d be the point of doing it.
What kind of benefits are we talking about? Let’s cover them more now.
If you don’t have that big Wall Street office, it’s easy for your company to continually feel like it’s less than. You don’t even have the space to put your whole company roster in their own offices or cubicles.
With hot desking, even if you’re majorly lacking in space, you can make up for it. Since you only have one employee manning the desk at any one time, there’s less human traffic. That alone can make your office feel a bit bigger since it’s emptier.
You know what’s expensive? Desks and office chairs for each employee. Then they need their own office phone, office computer, access to all the programs you use, and maybe even their own smartphone. It gets expensive fast. The more employees you have, the more cash you’re forced to shell out.
Not anymore if you get into hot desking. You don’t need to spend on the above except for one time (okay, maybe more if you do offer company smartphones). You also don’t have to go to the trouble of renting or buying a bigger office. A smaller space can suffice due to your arrangement.
According to some sources, hot desking can lead to you reducing costs by as much as 30 percent.
As we’ve said, with hot desking, one person oversees the goings-on at the office for a shift, then gives up the responsibility to the next employee. For those couple of hours, that one employee could be entirely by themselves.
This gives them a great sense of responsibility and a chance to shine. If a call comes in, they have to answer it. If someone needs help, they must provide assistance. That sense of autonomy can be very valuable for employees who don’t like being told what to do or prefer not to have a big boss breathing down their neck. It might inspire them to do better work.
You do want to hire employees you trust wholeheartedly if you’re going to use a hot desking system. Otherwise, the employee can easily goof off during their entire shift. It’s not like anyone is around to scold them for bad behavior. In fact, months could go by before you notice revenue is dropping because your employee hasn’t been doing their job.
A bigger office might sound like a nice problem to have, but it can be a problem nonetheless. For example, if you’re part of a small business, then it makes no sense to use an overly spacious office. You now have more room than you know what to do with, and as a result, some of it gets unused. That’s a waste, and it’s one you either pay for monthly or annually.
A hot desking setup optimizes whatever space you do have, wasting none of it. Not only do you see the benefits reflected in cost savings, but you feel good that you’re not letting any rooms or corners go unused.
Besides the autonomy you introduce in a hot desking office, employees could also develop more interpersonal relationships between one another. When one shift ends and another begins, two employees will always interact, guaranteed. With time, they’ll become friendly and maybe even pals.
These types of bonds can fuel the success of a more autonomous environment. If two employees are buddies, then the second employee won’t want to be late to work, as they’ll leave the first employee hanging. That could damage the relationship.
Few things are worse than a messy office, but it certainly does happen. The more people around, the more clutter that seems to accumulate, right? From the fridge stuffed with an assortment of everybody’s food to personal effects on desks and spare equipment with nowhere to go, your office can get full fast.
You can ask everyone to clean up, but if they don’t, what can you do? You can’t really touch anyone’s personal effects, as that’d be a fuzzy line to cross. You can only hope your employees feel the same way you do and get motivated to clean up after themselves.
Through hot desking, with only one or two employees in the office at once, that’s a whole lot less stuff that comes with them. They eat their food and don’t leave it behind, as they won’t be in the office all day. Since they have no desk, they can’t leave personal effects either. It keeps the office overall looking tidier and more organized.
If your company wants to do its part to be greener and reduce your carbon footprint, hot desking could be the way to go. Each weekday, instead of having 50 or 100 employees descend upon the office, you have one or two. Maybe 10 people pass through your building’s doors all day. That’s fewer people on the road contributing more to greenhouse gases.
Also, you’re not running several dozen computers at once as everyone in your office works. Instead, you have fewer than five machines on at any one time. Again, that’s more you’re doing for the environment. (We have written a related article - What is Hot Desk Anxiety?)
The benefits for hot desking are clear, but, as we’ve said before, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. You can’t make a hot desking arrangement work in every type of office, so it’s important not to force it.
If you’re seriously thinking about using hot desking at your company, you have to ask yourself the following questions.
1. How many employees do you have? If your company employs dozens upon dozens of people, then a hot desking system isn’t for you. You have far too much staff to only have a few of them in the office throughout the course of a day. What would everyone else do? Unless you want the rest of your employees working from home, then you’ll have to shelve your hot desking ideas for now.
2. How much trust in your employees do you have? If you don’t believe that your employees can work autonomously, or if they have a track record that proves that’s not the case, then you want to tread very carefully. Hot desking can allow employees to exploit having no boss in-office, slacking off and doing nothing day in and day out.
Unless you believe your employees can get the job done and will continue to do so with 100-percent confidence, avoid hot desking.
3. Can you implement a flexible workplace system? Like we said before, if you have a bigger office, then more than likely, it’s too difficult to have a more flexible workplace. You’d have a lot of people working from home, and depending on their roles, that might not necessarily leave them able to do their jobs.
Plus, depending on the industry you work in, a more flexible schedule doesn’t work. Doctors might be able to get away with digitally communicating with patients when they’re not in the office. Salespeople can use apps and tech to stay up to date on impending sales. In an office where it’s all hands on deck though, there’s no room for flexibility.
4. Do you lack space? For big offices, not only does hot desking make no sense, but it’s actually a security risk. That’s not to say your office isn’t at risk if left unattended even if it’s small. It still is. However, one of the main solutions of hot desking is to accommodate offices that are lacking space or expenses. If yours doesn’t fit that bill, then there’s no need to fix what ain’t broken.
5. Do you need to save money? Is this the only way? Hot desking can reduce workplace costs, as we’ve said, since you’re cutting down on what you spend on equipment. If you’re in a situation where you can barely afford the costs of your building, then hot desking is also a good solution. If expenses are fine though, then why cram employees into a hot desking situation? (We have written a related article - Advantages and Disadvantages of Hot-Desking)
What is a hot desk phone? A hot desk phone is a service offered by some virtual offices. It lets more than one employee use the same phone extension, much like what would happen if they physically shared a hot desk.
Is hot desking effective? Hot desking can be effective, but there are many areas where it can fail as well. According to UK technology news resource Verdict, in the UK at least, not even half of employees (46 percent) said their productivity soared when hot desking.
Etiquette is another matter. We’ll have an article about hot desking etiquette later, but for now, do know that lack of etiquette plaques a lot of offices. The same Verdict article mentions that most hot desking workplaces, 87 percent, must set up etiquette rules to manage employee behavior.
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