Written by Sam Dow | 7th July 2021

If your business is one of the many planning for a blend of home and office working in the near future, have you considered hot desking?

When an employee doesn’t come into the office every day, from 9-5, it doesn’t make sense for them go to back to a permanently assigned desk. That would leave desks vacant for long periods of time, making poor use of expensive office space.

Hot desking does away with this and gives staff the ability to choose where they work on the days they are in the office. People share spaces and use them on an ad hoc basis.

But is it right for your company? Here are some of the benefits to help you decide:

Hot desking is cheaper

Traditional office buildings or spaces give your teams a specific spot to work in, but that space remains unused if the worker is out of the office, traveling from work, or working from home – and no doubt will have done during the pandemic.

Hot desking cuts down on this type of wasted space by allowing you to downsize your space or optimise the use of existing space. Not all employees need to have their own permanent desks.

And if you’ve found remote working has benefited your business, you could think about downsizing to a smaller location and introducing hot desking so that teams can still get together in one place when needed.

Workplace flexibility

Hot desking enables employees to choose where and how they work across the office, granting them a level of flexibility and autonomy that they wouldn’t have normally. For example, that might be the option to work in a private room for focused work, or meeting room for collaboration.

In CBRE’s future of the office survey, 70% of employers said they are planning to operate in a ‘free address’ (or hot desking) environment to support a more mobile workforce. Businesses want to meet employee demands for flexibility and a more mobile way of working – and changing the way we use the office can help this.

Improved communication and collaboration

Hot desking encourages employees to walk around the office to find somewhere to work and often ensures they interact with people they might not otherwise talk to. In a bigger office, you may not have the opportunity to work across departments, this is a great away to encourage that.

It goes without saying that people also deeply value and have missed socialising with colleagues. When we revisited our Rebalance survey, we found this was one of the top motivators people cited for heading back to the office after Covid. People will be able to share ideas and learn from each other, face-to-face.

Hot desking also forces you to rethink office designs, as you will need places for collaborative work such as meeting or huddle rooms, and space for individual, focused work too. By offering a variety of workspaces, it gives a greater number of potential places for your employees to connect and collaborate.

Boosts productivity

Another huge part of creating a flexible work environment is creating a space that employees feel most comfortable or prepared to work in. After all, not all employees work in the same way.

Hot desking allows employees to find the perfect space for the day – whether they need to shut out distractions or collaborate with other departments. Managers can encourage employees to work in an area that will let them do their best work.

This level of flexibility is essential for a productive office and an environment that caters to all workstyles and needs.

These benefits are great…but what about safety?

Of course, despite these benefits, people may have doubts about the safety of hot desking. It does remain a risk as it’s heavily reliant on desks being regularly cleaned – especially while Covid-19 is a concern, and on workers clearing up after themselves.

There are some ways you can help create a safer space for employees – after all, employees need to feel safe when they return to the workplace and see clear measures in place to promote social distancing (while it’s still enforced), plus additional hygiene procedures.

Here are some suggestions:

Flexible seating – With this, you will determine which desks are bookable. Many companies are adopting a checker-board desk approach where every other desk is bookable so that employees can maintain at least 2m apart. Then, when employees plan to work in the office, they can reserve a desk just for the day that they plan to be on-site.

Clean and clear policy – No one wants to work on a desk surrounded by other people’s paper, pens and coffee mugs. For hot desking to work properly, desks need to be ‘reset’ each night with personal belongings being taken home or stored in a locker.

Part of hot desking rules should be that people need to clear and sanitise their own spaces with cleaning products provided. You should also have professional cleaners in at night to make sure chairs, desks, screens and keyboards are wiped down so everything is safe for the next user.

It’s clear that hot desking has numerous advantages and is probably going to be a part of the way many businesses work in the future. But for your staff to return to the workplace, it’s most important for you to consider how office working can be reintroduced safely.

If you’d like any advice on adapting to new ways of working, download our hybrid working guide  or get in touch with our team at [email protected].