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What is Hot Desking & How does It Work?
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What is Hot Desking & How does It Work?

|Apr 15, 2021

As a manager, you observe changes in the workplace dynamic all the time. You have likely seen a shift from the traditional office setup, interior designs, and furniture. Today’s workplaces revolve around various smart technologies such as tablets, smartphones, and portable laptops, along with a collection of software and a flexible workspace.

Have you heard of the term hot desking? With the increased embracing of the work from anywhere initiative, availability of internet connections, open workplace designs and more efficient layouts, better online security the hot desking concept has taken the business places by a storm and become such a modern staple. 

With the increasing desire for flexibility, contracting, and hiring, Employees no longer need a fixed desk or to be physically in the office. Managers, business owners, and leaders must figure out ways to implement modern trends and phenomena to maximize productivity and performance. Hot desking came into existence to suit these needs and demands. 

What is Hot Desking?

Now, let’s get to understand the hot desking definition. As it is a new movement, you may be wondering “what does hot desking mean?” It is where employees are not assigned a specific seat but check in to what is called an open seat or open desk. With this system, it is a first come first serve situation and it does not stop at a desk. This model can be adopted in cubicles and workstations. 

What is Hot Desking?

Hot desking is a good tool that allows employees to work from anywhere they want to, stay connected and productive wherever work takes a long time, or fit in with whatever hybrid working model the company implements. Hot desking can be considered as an organizational work environment system where a pool of desks is provided and used by various employees at various times or when necessary. 

Hot desking is often referred to as hoteling and while the two phrases are used interchangeably, they are not quite the same. Hoteling has the same concept, but the execution is different. It involves other staff members booking or reserving spaces through software before needing to use it. Ensure you know the difference when you employ the technique.  

Benefits of Hot Desking

This kind of open desk format was first introduced in or around the 1950s. It was said to have been derived from the “hot racking” concept from the practice of sailors who had different shifts that they would share the same bunk with. The benefits associated with the hot desking concept are as follows.

Building Relationships

Building Relationships

Using a different desk daily allows coworkers from different departments and teams to socialize, bond, and build networks beyond the formal hierarchy. Hot desking breaks cliques and silos by giving the chance for creativity and innovation to flow. 

The practice can significantly reduce the number of workstations or cubicles in the office while increasing the space to encourage more diversity in working styles. It encourages teamwork and builds good rapport between departments.

Cost Reduction

Cost Reduction

For both large and small companies, hot desking has the potential to save a great deal of money in unused office space. It is one of the major benefits of hot desking. Office space is considered one of the biggest expenses an organization must bear. Bear in mind that about 40% of the office is empty at any point in time. For organizations that have a hybrid workforce, they can take advantage of hot desking as a cost-effective technique. 

More Space for Diverse Use

More Space for Diverse Use

Following the previous point, using hot desking means more space in the office as there are no more fixed or assigned desks which signifies a decluttered office. What can you do with all this newfound space? Well, you can create fun rooms and break-out areas for employees. 

These new spaces can support and foster employee engagement making happier, more productive, relaxed, and valued employees. This can even be a space for persons to collaborate, be innovative, and discuss matters in a more relaxed format. 

Efficiency and Productivity

Another benefit of hot desking is that employees are more productive and efficient using the hot desking co-working spaces as it makes them more likely to engage with each other, which positively impacts their motivation and performance. 

This destroys the monotony of being rooted at the same desk, spot, or station for a long time and in turn fosters better employee health, productivity, and efficiency. 

Improve Communication

Improve Communication

Having persons moving around the office, meeting with peers, bonding, and sharing mutual interests means there are more interactions among coworkers, generating new ideas, and fostering new connections. 

In communicating, employees feel comfortable discussing matters regarding the company, which can lead to solutions and improvements that were unexpected. They get to build stronger relations with colleagues and help them feel more in sync with all the departments. 

Limitations of Hot Desking

Limitations of Hot Desking

Despite those amazing benefits, hot desking has its downfalls which includes: 

  • Hot desking sometimes has a way of creating distractions, distrust, negative relationships, and uncooperative behaviors between colleagues in the shared office environment. 
  • In minor cases, without proper support and coordination from managers to employees, the hot desking concept can negatively impact the organization and decrease the organization’s productivity. Note that the supportive organizational culture and values can also have an impact on how effective hot desking can be. 
  • Constantly changing your desk and location can cause a loss of familiarity, and separation from managers and team members can cause some employees to feel unsupported. Additionally, there is the possibility of breaking up close relationships, which reduces creativity and communication and in turn affects employee morale. 
  • The first come first serve notion can be quite an inconvenience and irritation when you need to be on the hunt for a free desk if or when you arrive late. In offices where most persons work remotely or do not work the same hours, the only thing you might have to worry about is not getting your favorite desk.  

How Does Hot Desking Work?

Hot desking makes it simple to find a desk, plug your laptop, and begin working. It allows professionals to work in a space as required in private and shared work environments. The hot-desking concept often varies depending on the office environment and office layout. Some major aspects of hot desking can make for a successful experience:

One Size Does Not Fit All

One Size Does Not Fit All

Hot desking is more popular with young workers as it is said that they enjoy the flexible working environment hot desking offers. Older folks crave stability and may be unhappy about moving to a new desk every morning. 

As a manager, if you plan to implement a hot desking office, you must consider things about your workforce, such as the type of work each department does, the demographics, the number of part-time vs. full-time workers, and the number of spaces in the building. 



Since employees do not have a permanent workstation, the organization must share the technologist logistics burden. You must ensure that the workstation has a PC, tablets, laptop, etc. If you are going to be encouraging employees to move from desk to desk freely, they must be able to comfortably do so.

It may be in your best interest as a manager or business owner to check in with the employees who are potentially going to be using the ergonomic workstations to ascertain what they need.

For example, some people can only work if a dual-screen setup is at play. Therefore, a DP, HDMI, VGA, or DVI connection may be necessary. Depending on the type of machine they are using, you may even need a further connection just to be able to use any of these video standards.

It does not matter what the needs are in this regard, as you must understand and meet them so people can work effectively.

Private Spaces


A system that includes hybrid desk booking is great when people need to be flexible and move around effectively. It is the whole premise of the hot desking definition, but there is a special need to attend to privacy. 

A hot desking office is conducive to a lot of things, including open and honest conversation. However, some things are not suitable for an open office environment. Personal topics do not necessarily fit in here, but some strategic planning meetings are financial discussions.

Even if you are the only one sitting at the desk, colleagues at nearby hot desks can hear you and that is never a good thing when sensitive topics are in the mix.

If you are going to be implementing hot desking, you must make provisions to ensure that your employees can have private discussions and meetings away from the rest of the team when necessary. To this end, private offices and coworking spaces tend to implement bookable conference rooms for use. 

There is the option of ensuring that the rooms are far enough away so there is no audio travel. If you can afford it, you may also want to consider soundproofing these rooms.

What You Need to Consider to Have a Good Hot Desking Office

Though there are some drawbacks, hot desking probably sounds like a very good idea to you right now. You know the upsides and how it works too, so is it time to jump in? Of course, business managers and leaders need to always make decisions in an efficient way to consider both the needs of the employees and the customers. As far as hot desking is concerned, here are some considerations to bear in mind before implementing such a system:

Standard Facilities

Standard Facilities

You may be surprised to see restrooms coming up in hot desking offices as a part of the discussion since business owners are very much aware that their staff members need restroom facilities. However, the idea behind the hot desking setup is to give a dynamic feel and to cater to the needs of employees who want a better quality of life at work and greater flexibility. Therefore, you may need to consider going beyond the traditional bathroom cubicle setup. Outfitting your bathrooms with showers and products, such as those for the skin and hair may be a good idea.

Additionally, it would be good to have rooms in place that are designated for quiet time or meditation exercises. A free-flowing coffee station also could not hurt here.

Remember the Traffic Outlook

Remember the Traffic Outlook

Traffic here refers to office usage at any one time. If you are going to have a hot desking concept working in your safe office space, it must be able to adequately accommodate those who are going to be using it. So, if you have five hot desks, for example, and a maximum of six employees working concurrently, you may have a situation where one is out of s station.

If you do not consider the amount of traffic in the office, you are either going to overspend or underspend on getting things prepared. You do not need to factor in the total number of employees, as it is all about how many are going to ever need these kinds of desks at one time.



You are creating a situation where multiple people are going to be using the same office equipment consistently in the hot desking office. Persons care for things in different ways, which means you are undoubtedly going to end up with equipment that needs repair or replacement ever so often.

If you are going to be doing a hot desking office, this is unavoidable, so be prepared to handle it as efficiently as you possibly can. Perform routine maintenance checks, even if that means hiring or delegating someone to do so whenever the observation intervals pass. 

Do not wait until things go completely downhill to effect the necessary repairs and get in new equipment where needed. In the same breath, do not take the “if it's not broke then don't fix it” approach to your hot desking setup.

Instead, when there is new technology and equipment out that can make things more comfortable and productive in the office, invest in it if the company can afford it.

Be Honest

As stated before, a hot desking office does not work in every context. Much of business involves making decisions and evaluating their effectiveness. If you are going to be putting our systems such as this one in place, you undoubtedly need to take that approach.

With all the benefits that hotdesking offers, having it in place may not do you much good. So, if you need to switch things up, do not be afraid to do so.

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