Getting Hot-Desk Ready: Everything You Need To Know Abut Hot-Desking And Whether It’s Right For You

Hot desking is by no means a new concept. Some businesses have been using the workspace system for many years. But, in recent times, it has become more of the “norm” with companies, interior office designers, space planners and furniture manufacturers all giving it more thought and attention.

So, what is hot desking, is it worth considering and how do you plan your office space to make the most of it?

What is hot-desking?
Hot-desking is an office space set up where the desks are used by different people at different times. It is a step away from the conventional view that each employee needs their own dedicated desk set up. They are often associated with co-working spaces, like WeWork, but in recent times – particularly with more people working from home – hot desking is fast becoming a way for companies to reduce the amount of “dead” space they have within their offices.

This brings about even more benefits in terms of either being able to reduce the required square footage considerably or being able to better utilise the “spare” space for increased production, storage or even social, collaborative or well-being spaces.

Why is hot desking so popular?
Traditionally, employees like to have their own space within the work environment. It gives them a sense of belonging. Let’s face it, we probably spend more time in the office than at home. With a desktop computer, storage drawers, hardwired phone – and probably a few personal effects – the office desk was more than just a space in the office to work from. Staff in neighbouring desks often became work friends and helped build a sense of belonging and comradery.

As we saw a rise in entrepreneurship and micro-businesses, self-employed individuals wanted an office environment that they could go to work from. A space that would get them out of their pyjamas, away from the kitchen table and interacting with other like-minded people.

This saw the rise in demand for co-working spaces that used hot-desking to give these budding businesspeople a place to work from; for far less than it would cost to lease an office. Plus, the benefits of this co-working saw a huge increase in partnerships and collaboration with other “hot-deskers”.

As this more inclusive and flexible way of working grew in popularity, businesses with a more traditional office set up started to see the benefits.

While a traditional static desk gave people a sense of belonging, it also required significantly more space. Even part-time members of staff needed their own set up. Not only that, but it doesn’t necessarily foster collaboration between colleagues as there is less of an opportunity to get to know everyone. But, by removing the permanent base, staff were able to choose where they sat and when. They would work near a greater variety of people and experience a different type of collaboration.

However, even despite the benefits to the businesses in terms of space usage, and greater feelings of collaboration, hot-desking was still met with resistance by some. In fact, both departments and industries that required greater storage or privacy still preferred a static base.

The pandemic game-changer
The pandemic has been responsible for the greatest changes that we have ever seen. Every area of our lives has been affected in one way or another. But none more than the office environment. Overnight employees were expected to work from home whether their in-office set up had previously allowed it or not. Desktop computers were replaced by laptops, mobile phones and digital phone services were adopted and IT systems were upgraded. It is estimated that the pandemic sped up the business world’s rate of technological advancement by up to 10 years.

And – with less of a dependence on a static desk set up, businesses looked to more flexible space planning options once more. Not only that, but with fewer people in the office and doubts as to whether full-time office working would ever become a “thing” again, business owners and managers looked to their workplace set ups once more as they tried to reduce their commercial office space footprint.

Is Hot Desking right for us?
When we speak with businesses about their space planning needs, this is the most common question that comes up. And the answer is not one size fits all. It depends on the business, the work you do, the space you occupy, the number of permanent staff you employ, whether you see seasonal increases in recruitment… the list goes on.

However, there are a few things you can consider.

What is your WFH set up?
Before the pandemic, research showed that the average worker was only at their desk 40% of the time. While there are no concrete figures on where that percentage now stands, it is estimated to be considerably less with most employees still working from home for part of their working week. If you have fewer staff working from the office than you did pre-pandemic then hot-desking can be a great way to reduce the number of unused desks, stop the office from feeling empty and lacking in atmosphere while still giving them a base to work from when they do come in.

Do your staff do a variety of tasks?
Most employees will have a variety of tasks that they carry out as part of their job. Depending on the task, they can benefit from being carried out in a different setting. Activity Based Working (ABW) is a strategy that many businesses are now adopting to encourage productivity from staff. The idea is that when employees have the right space and set up for the task at hand, then they care more productive. ABW gives staff the freedom to choose the environment based on the task be that one that requires privacy and quiet, space for collaboration and brainstorming or even, as is more common, a space for video conferencing away from the open plan office.

This is the otherwise known as agile working. Hot desking is one step towards a more agile working environment that encourages staff to think about the space they occupy as temporary and transient – encouraging them to move about and change the scenery.

Can your infrastructure support it?
Hot desking relies on everyone still having the same access to services that they would need if they had a dedicated workstation.  This includes access to a phone, printer, additional screens, keyboards, wires, plugs and both WIFI and hardwired internet connections. The desks also need to be configurable to the individual using it in terms of height adjustable chairs – and desks. And of course, with the added Covid consideration, cleaning supplies for shared areas are a must.

But in addition to thinking about the supportive infrastructure, how and where you set up the hot-desking areas also needs to be considered as part of a wider space planning exercise.

Other considerations
Hot-desking can be a real game changer for businesses, but it does require everyone to be on the same page. If you are going from a traditional set up to agile hot-desking, your staff will need to be both educated and informed. It is a cultural shift – albeit one which can bring considerable benefits.

You will also need to think about how your agile spaces are shared. The worst-case scenario is that you don’t have enough desks for people or meeting rooms for meetings. This can have the opposite effect on both productivity and morale.

 

By carefully considering the staff you employ, the roles they have, the work they do, the spaces they use and the frequency of different tasks, you can work from a carefully considered space plan that ensures you have sufficient space available. Incorporating flexible spaces which can be adapted to suit the need as and when is also a core part of this space planning process. And finally – considering some sort of booking/scheduling system makes sure that the team can follow the rules of agile working appropriately.

If you would like to discuss the space planning process and how you could incorporate an agile hot-desking solution in your workspace, please get in touch.