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Hot desking: How to make it work in your office

  • A shared hot desk office

    A shared hot desk office

Created on: 6th November 2017

The rise in flexible working, combined with cutbacks to office running costs means that many businesses, of all sizes, are looking to implement a hot-desk setup as part of their office interior.

The benefits of hot desking

In general, hot desking aims to enable better collaboration and flexibility within offices, by allowing employees to select their seat of choice every day. While the trend of the hot desk emerged about twenty years ago, many businesses are only now shifting to this setup, in a push to foster teamwork and innovation in the workplace.

In addition to increased flexibility and collaboration, hot desking also tends to mean that the office remains tidier, with much less clutter, as staff can’t leave personal items behind at the end of their working day. Desks and office spaces tend to remain neater and reduce wastage in printing and paper.

Some issues of hot desking

Making changes to your office setup is not always as simple as it sounds! Some surveys indicate that more than a quarter of companies who have introduced hot-desking report a drop in staff morale and productivity. For many people, their desk is a sign of stability and comfort in their place of work, and without a permanent base, many feel lost and unsettled.

Some psychologists believe that morale can be reduced when a lack of personal items support a working environment and that unexpected noises from sitting in a new area can give rise to higher levels of stress hormones.

If not thought about with correct attention, some office spaces can feel cold, transient and lack cohesion with the business’ direct goals. Added to that, with 15 million work days lost to back pain the UK each year, workspaces that aren’t comfortable and safe can have a big impact on cost.

Considerations when implementing a hot desking approach

If you have made the decision to implement a hot-desking approach within your office environment, then consider these tips, aimed at making the process as smooth as possible:

Involve your employees

Involving your staff from the very beginning can make the transition much easier and comfortable. Having an open conversation about what people need from their workspace, as the amount of space they need will make sure no one feels disregarded or left in the dark. This might help you to identify solutions for personal belongings such as staff lockers, personalised drawers or communal office storage spaces.

Think about work processes

There is no point implementing a hot desking approach without considering how this will affect working processes and project flow. Do you have the correct IT facilities and connectivity to allow for hot desking? What different equipment is vital for some employees to have at their desk to allow them to fulfill their job? How will the phone-lines work if people are constantly moving desks? There are many questions to consider about work processes when moving to a hot desk approach, so make sure you have considered all the relevant questions specific to your orgnaisation.

Consider glass partitions to divide the office

Adding glass partitions to space can help to divide a room, as well as make space for quiet areas, phone calls, meeting places, or for departments to be kept together as a group. Hot desking doesn't have to be company wide – you can still divide your teams up into individual areas, depending on projects, and using glass partitions can help you to achieve the best of both worlds.

Run a test

If you have a large organisation with many employees, then it would be wise to implement a test with one department before implementing everywhere. Choose a department, which you feel could be particularly tricky and this will help you iron out the hardest issues before rolling out the procedure throughout the whole company. 

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