The Pros and Cons of Hot Desking

Posted on November 03, 2016


Hot desking enables better collaboration and flexibility within offices, but it’s not for everyone. Keep reading to learn whether it might be right for you.

In the modern office where agility is crucial, businesses are constantly looking for new ways to support a flexible and fast-moving office culture. While the trend of the hot desk emerged over 20 years ago, many businesses are only now shifting to this setup, in a push to foster teamwork and innovation in the workplace. Read on as we weigh up the pros and cons of hot desking, highlighting the key things to consider before shaking up your office structure and dynamic.

The Pros

Employee Autonomy

Employees who have more autonomy over their work day are happier and more engaged. This has been widely acknowledged, as employers enable staff to work from home or on the go. The flexibility of hot desking compliments an office where staff are constantly mobile – allowing teams to shift and restructure based on who is in the office, rather than working in silo.

Project-Based Collaboration

One of the uncontested benefits of hot desking is that it allows staff from different areas of your business to truly collaborate on projects. In a more typical office environment with a static seating arrangement, separate teams need to book meeting rooms in order to work together for the day.  In a hot desking situation, teams are able to move seats to partner on a project in a more streamlined and productive way, as individuals can still meet their other work obligations.

Tidier, Minimal Working Spaces

One of the smaller features of the hot desking setup is 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 remain neater and easier for cleaners to access.

The Cons

Staff Can’t Personalise Their Space

As mentioned above, staff tend to be happier when they have more autonomy over their work and environment. While hot desking allows employees more discretion on where they sit, one criticism is that employees can no longer personalise their space. 

And while this does make for a more minimal and tidier work environment, staff not having anywhere to store their belongings can make the workspace feel transient, unsettled, and impersonal. If you’re planning to introduce hot desking within your business, planning adequate personal storage for staff is paramount. 

Setup Time and Hardware Accountability

Hot desking will require staff to setup their computer each morning before they can commence work, which can cause a slight delay in getting up and running. 

Typically desks will be set up with an allocated laptop dock, a monitor, mouse and keyboard. Issues can arise when laptops don’t recognise the hardware, or fail to connect to the network seamlessly.  Fast, high capacity Wi-Fi with fast data connections, and latest generation IP Telephony via computer or app can support the anywhere worker in the office, and accommodates whatever device they choose to use.

Loss of Team Cohesion + Productivity

With the freedom for staff to shift based on their work requirements, hot desking has been criticised for negatively impacting cohesion within teams. Some employees can feel siloed or less able to form close workplace bonds, which can also contribute to a change in company culture. This kind of impact will really depend on the individuals within your team and how the change is managed – as it’s equally as possible that staff will thrive off the new and varied interactions that hot desking offers if the process is managed correctly. 

Ready to Make the Change?

As with any adjustment to staff structure or technology, proper consultation, planning and communication is key.

Some tips to consider before making the move:

  • Undertake a thorough suitability assessment – hot desking is not viable across all businesses and industries
  • Assess whether your IT infrastructure can support the new setup before you make any changes
  • Undertake the review with a group of employee representatives so it’s not viewed as a ‘top down’ initiative
  • Run a pilot project and assess it before you go live
  • Create a watertight change management strategy to ensure the shift is a success
  • Implement the right technology to support the change – e.g. Look at desk scheduling applications so you can allow individuals to schedule time at a desk, or even block a section for project teams
  • Talk to us about our Unified Communications suites to experience how modern collaboration technology can mobilise your business across mobile and desktop

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