The Lowdown on Hot-Desking and How to Implement it Effectively


If the concept of hot-desking is new to you, you’ve come to the right place.

Search Wikipedia for the term ‘hot desking’ and you’ll find it described as “an office organisation system which involves multiple workers using a single physical work station or surface during different time periods” and “a single desk being shared by multiple office workers on different shifts as opposed to each staff member having their own personal desk”.

Sounds simple enough, so then why aren’t we all doing it? What are the pros and cons, and how can you make sure you’re getting it right?

How to effectively implement hot-desking - Ben Johnson Interiors

Hot desking in a post-pandemic world

Up until the outbreak of COVID-19, hot-desking was growing in popularity and there’s no reason why that trend shouldn’t continue. Currently, employers are being advised to avoid sharing workstations, implement social distancing and put new hygiene standards in place. It does increase the chances of cross-contamination and makes it harder to monitor the movements of staff. But, once we start to return to normal…

Enter hot-desking!

In this immediate post-Covid time, fewer employees are coming into the office every day. This does mean that there’s already a degree of flexibility in place. Fewer people are sitting in their regular desk arrangements as the migration back into office life is happening. Employees are able to consider whether they’re most productive at home or at the office.

With a flexible seating strategy, you can determine which desks are bookable if you’re planning to work in the office for a day. Lots of companies are adopting a system whereby every other desk is bookable so that employees can maintain a safer distance. This can be done manually or through an app or system, as we’ve touched on in our post-Covid furniture roundup post.

A flexible seating space with handy access to power is a good start when it comes to hotdesking – here’s something we did for client, LeoVegas

The cons of hot-desking

In a break from tradition, let’s start with the cons. There are a few pitfalls of hot-desking, which is why it’s so important to make sure you’ve spoken to staff to find out what works for them and then implemented it correctly.

  • Familiarity
    The biggest downside might be that not all of us are suited to a nomadic life. Being able to sit in a different place every day isn’t for everyone; some people like knowing who their neighbours are and having a desk to call their own. It has also been reported that not knowing where they might be sitting each day causes an increase in staff anxiety levels. As a business thinking of implementing a flexible approach, it’s important to consider this to ensure that team members feel supported and heard.
  • Isolation
    Those who are slower selecting their desk for the day, for any one of a multitude of reasons that could be entirely out of their hands, may not get the desk they want or end up near anyone they know. This can result in employees not bothering to come into the office at all if they can’t sit with their team or co-workers. A sense of belonging at work is important for well-being.

The pros of hot desking

Now that we’ve addressed the negatives, let’s take a look at the perks. Don’t give up on the concept just yet…

  • Decluttering
    The junk we all accumulate throughout the day clutters up desk space and therefore brain space. Empty coffee cups, stationery, stacks of paperwork, personal trinkets – the longer we’re stationed at one desk, the more that builds up. Hot desking forces your staff to rein that in. It does mean they aren’t able to personalise their space, but overall, it means a tidier, more minimalist office which has been proven to be better for productivity and creating the right first impression.
  • Socialising
    Just as we’ve discussed the fact that some people like familiarity, there are of course many people who don’t need to or enjoy sitting in the exact same place day in, day out, and only have conversations with those around them. Hot desking encourages more mingling amongst staff during work time, which has an impact on learning, confidence and (that keyword again) productivity.
  • Onboarding
    Following on from the above point, if everyone is always sitting next to someone ‘new’ then new members of staff won’t have too much difficulty feeling at home. In an environment where everyone already has set cliques or groups, it can feel a little harder to strike up a conversation. Hot desking can make the onboarding process as simple as finding a seat!
  • Appropriate
    Flexible seating also means employees can choose which type of environment suits them best on any given day, depending on the task they’re focussed on – something else that offers a nice little boost to productivity levels!
  • Cost-effective
    You will likely save money and wasted space if you only need to offer a desk for the number of staff that actually want one on a daily basis, rather than providing a set desk for every single person that your company employs, whether they’re in the office or not. Staff absence or working from home results in a lot of empty desks per year in a traditional working environment.
  • Autonomy
    As mentioned, some people thrive on conversation and discussion, while others prefer quiet and calm. Giving your staff the choice and ability to change up their environment impacts mental health, perceived job satisfaction and wellbeing. It’s no big secret that we humans generally feel much better if we feel like they have more options and opportunities.

Okay, so what’s the plan?

There are so many ways of setting up a more flexible office but perhaps the biggest is to take a look at your furniture.

If it’s not going to work for hot-desking (i.e. It doesn’t allow for movement, privacy, collaboration and ideally have a power source or two that are easily accessible, then it’s probably going to need an upgrade as part of the switch to hot desking. You don’t always need to buy anything specific but, if you do need to, there are so many products out there at the moment that are perfect for this. We touched on some items in our Post-Covid furniture guide; mobile workstations, chargeable mobile power sources, moveable walls and whiteboards – the whole shebang,

Details such as the ease of booking workstations would need consideration too. Some offices do this the old fashioned way, but there are increasingly modern ways of doing it, such as the Sedus se:connects app. This uses a small sensor on the furniture telling the app if the item is in use, booked or not.

At the moment (and perhaps for the foreseeable) it’s also going to be important to consider hygiene for shared stations. Work areas that clean themselves might seem like the future, except that they actually exist now. We’re there. The Vetrospace office booths use a blue disinfecting light which kills 99.9% of microbes when the booth is empty.

We can help if you fancy introducing the concept of hot-desking for your business but need a hand making sure you’ve provided for everyone in a way that’s suitable and proactive, rather than something that’s potentially going to hinder work.

We’re well-versed in the opportunities and problems, and we’re able to suggest some of the best furniture options for this way of working too.

Give us a call today.