What Is Hot Desking? The Benefits of Sharing a Workspace
Having enough space for your team to accomplish their tasks is a priority for many offices. Hot desking can help you conserve space while still providing your team with the tools and space they need. Understanding what hot desking is can help you determine whether this might benefit your office.
In this article, we explain what hot desking is, how it works and list many of its advantages and disadvantages to help you better understand this method of office organization.
What is hot desking?
Hot desking is an organizational method some offices use instead of assigning specific workstations. With hot desking, multiple colleagues use the same workstation and tools—such as desks and computers—at different times of the day. Usually, this means sharing the desk with people on other shifts. For instance, someone might use the station during the day shift and then someone else uses it during the night shift.
How does hot desking work?
Hot desking works in different ways depending on the type and needs of the office. This often takes place in offices with flexible schedules where team members don't appear in the office every day. Typically, anyone on duty that day can select an available desk when they arrive. They then can use it in whatever way they need to accomplish their tasks for the day. For instance, if they need to make calls, they might choose an area with a phone, or if they intend to hold meetings or give presentations, they can choose to claim a conference room.
Related: Guide To Flexible Work Schedules
Advantages of hot desking
Hot desking can have many advantages for your office or business. It can help you conserve your resources when designing the organization of your office. When considering this organizational method, consider the following advantages:
Uses less space
Hot desking allows for a larger team to work out of a smaller space. Rather than assigning a dedicated area for each team member, it allows your team to fill in the space available to them. This way, your team can accomplish the same amount of tasks without having to expand into a larger office.
Saves money on tools and equipment
With hot desking, your team members share the tools and equipment in the office. This helps your office save money as you won't have to provide tools for everyone in the office. Having fewer tools will also help cut down on repair and replacement costs.
Because team members can choose a new workspace daily, they might find a space near different colleagues more often. Hot desking helps them connect with new people that they might not have otherwise encountered in a traditional office. This can promote them to assist, collaborate and learn to team build with different colleagues and personalities.
Related: 12 Ways To Encourage Teamwork
Offers greater flexibility
Hot desking allows your team to choose a workspace based on their tasks for the day. This helps them use the spaces and tools most helpful to them whenever they need them most. Your team members can also choose between working from home or going to the office, depending on what they need to accomplish. Team members who aren't regularly at the office—like consultants—can also find space when they need it.
Disadvantages of hot desking
Hot desking also comes with a few disadvantages. Understanding these disadvantages can help you learn how to resolve them. When determining whether or not to use hot desking, consider the following:
Causes phone call confusion
Since each team member often uses a different space, directing phone calls specifically to them is sometimes difficult. Using digital communications—such as email—can help you resolve this. Some companies also offer phone systems that can direct calls to a team member's cell phone.
Creates cleanliness issues
Preventing illnesses from spreading in your office is essential for keeping your team healthy. Having team members share workspaces might cause them to share germs, bacteria or otherwise spread illnesses, even accidentally. Providing your team with anti-bacterial lotion or wipes can help them keep themselves and their workspaces clean. Encouraging them to wipe down their area after use can help reduce the chances of them spreading any illnesses to each other.
Decreases chances for on-the-job training
When training on the job, new team members often work near established colleagues in their department. This is sometimes difficult when each team member finds a new space every day. When onboarding someone new to the team, consider having them train alongside a specific team member in a specific space. They can share a space together so the new team member can learn from and ask questions to their assigned colleague.
Related: What Is On-the-Job Training?
Causes difficulty finding space
Since hot desk space is often first-come, first-served, it might become difficult for your team to find a space quickly. You can resolve this by letting your team sign up for available space in advance. There are also apps you can get that allow your team to select from all the available spaces before they arrive at the office.
Tools for hot desking
Many tools exist that can help provide a better hot desking experience for you and your team. These tools include the equipment that team members use on a day-to-day basis, as well as features implemented in the building. When choosing the hot desking method, consider these tools:
Laptops are a helpful alternative to desktop computers when hot desking. Team members can take their projects with them while moving from one space to another. It also lets them stay logged in to any messaging or digital communication apps your team uses.
Wireless internet (wi-fi) lets your team access the internet in whichever space they choose. This helps them complete their tasks in each new space. Wi-fi is especially helpful for teams who use laptops or other wireless devices while completing tasks. This way, they can take their devices and all the information they need with them.
Messaging apps can help your team communicate digitally. Using these apps can help each team member find and speak with one another without having to know where the other person is. It can also allow them to collaborate while remaining at their individual stations. Project management apps can also help your team communicate and stay organized while collaborating on a specific project.
Related: 6 Best Project Management Apps
Because each team member is different, it's helpful if they can adapt the workspaces to suit their specific needs. For instance, adjustable chairs can help each team member get comfortable in their chosen workstation. If using desktop computers or external monitors, adjustable settings can help each person on your team see them clearly and comfortably.
If your team often accomplishes a variety of tasks, having different workspaces can help them accomplish what they need. For instance, a simple desk and chair in a workspace can help them achieve typical computer tasks. Conference spaces can help your team hold meetings. Large tables can help team members collaborate on a project together.
Alternatives to hot desking
Alternatives to hot desking can offer some of the same benefits using different methods. Some popular alternatives to hot desking include:
Desk hoteling is like hot desking but lets your team claim a workspace in advance. Digital apps can also let them claim spaces and can give you helpful information about which spaces get used most. This can help you determine how to reorganize your office in a way that better suits your business.
Office hoteling is like desk hoteling. Instead of letting your team select their workspace, office hoteling lets them select whether they work at home or the office that day. This lets some of your team work from home while opening up space for the rest of your team at the office.
Activity-based working (ABW) lets your team rotate spaces based specifically on their activities and tasks. Instead of choosing a workspace for the entire day, this lets your team move from space-to-space depending on what they need to do. You can also combine this with traditional hot desking in your office.
Assigning shifts can help you use the same workspaces for different team members at different times. Instead of having your team choose a new workspace each day, they can share their space with different shifts. Alternatively, you can assign specific workspaces to different team members on different days depending on their tasks that day.
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