The modern workplace is synonymous with flexibility and agility. AGallup survey showed that 37% of employees would leave their current job in a traditional office to join a company that offered a flexible office environment.
Paired with the fact that the past twenty-two months saw employees working from home, businesses had to develop ways to cut the costs of running a physical office. With offices slowly opening up to house a fraction of their workforce, it doesn’t make sense to go back to the traditional office setup.
Amidst the rise of remote work, open office plans, and shared co-working spaces, hot-desking is the new kid in the block. Although this concept has been around for 20+ years, it’s become increasingly popular. Studies show there has been a massive surge in workers booking hot desks since November of this year, to the tune of 225,000 desks.
Hot desking is appealing to employers because it's a more efficient use of space, a smaller footprint means cheaper rent, and can cut down office costs by as much as 30%.
But is it suitable for every kind of organization? Let’s look at their pros and cons to help you identify gaps in your coworking business model so you can better meet your customers’ requirements.
Hot desking, desk hoteling, free seating—have become among the newest trends in the workplace and can be a welcome addition to boost productivity among your workforce if implemented correctly intandem with occupancy management.
To put it simply, hot desking is a seating arrangement where members don’t get designated desks. They get to switch things up and sit wherever they want, depending on how they feel that day.
Your customers come to work, select any open desk or cubicle, and that becomes their base of operations for the day. Depending on what kind of seating arrangements your workspace offers, they could be choosing from a row of identical workstations, standing desks, common work tables, or other such unconventional seating arrangements.
Coworking spaces are essentially shared workspaces among different companies where each person has a dedicated desk. You, as a company, can lease out a floor or several workstations for a long duration. There is no need for any worker to clear out the desk and pack up their belongings at the end of the day.
Hot desking is the big sister to coworking when it comes to flexibility. Anyone can find a desk, plug-in, and get to work on an ad hoc basis, but you will have to give it up at the end of the day.
While swapping desks every day may seem fresh and exciting, it may not be the right fit for all types of people.
Here are some pros and cons to consider before going all-in with this work model.
The advantages of hot desking don’t stop at convenience, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. They go further to promote community, expose fresh perspectives and build creativity.
Hot desking helps reduce the wastage of redundant office space. It becomes possible to house more workers in an office space with not as many desks, meaning not all employees clock in at the same time.
Instead of the desks being empty, whoever is on shift gets to use them. This is precisely what Credit Suisse accomplished by implementing hot-desking for 750 support staff in New York City with resounding success.
Coworking spaces provide a social and collaborative atmosphere that all professionals seek to learn and grow. Sharing a desk unconsciously promotes social networking. Your customers get the opportunity to collaborate with a much wider variety of people at your coworking space; be it from different teams of the same company or completely new individuals from different companies.
Deloitte is one company that bid adieu to private offices and hopped on the hot-desking train with 1000 desks for 2500 employees. They’ve built a fantastic community where people want to come to the workplace and not just because they need to.
Desks are of lesser use for companies with many remote/hybrid workers, as dedicated desks won’t be of much use. People who work from home benefit greatly from hot-desking as there is no longer a concept of being present at a dedicated desk. There is no pressure to go to the office every day and be “seen.”
Employees have more autonomy to pick and choose when they come to work with hot desks. It allows them to change their day-to-day work environment and remain mobile—without being tied to their desks.
Square and LEGO offices have completely open floor plans where employees have a variety of office environments to choose from. You can set your own work hours, pop into the office 1-2 times a week, and create a work-life balance suited to your needs, promoting employee retention, better work productivity, motivation, and overall, a healthy company culture.
The idea that members have to clear out their things at the end of the day changes how they treat their desk area. They tend to bring fewer things with them, clean their desk often, and maintain a tidy environment.
Adding to that, an organized and uncluttered workspace also contributes to a significant increase in concentration and productivity.
While hot desking has some great benefits attached to it, is it really worth adopting this work model in your coworking space? Would your members be open to trying it out?
Here are certain disadvantages that cannot be taken lightly, and should be considered if you are planning to adopt hot desking in your coworking space.
Moving around from desk to desk can lead to a loss of identity for some people. They don’t get the chance to personalize their cubicle or call it their own. This tends to hamper productivity as some workers need their personal space to focus on the task at hand and even create a work environment.
A member might find it difficult to really “get in the zone” when very little separates them from their coworker. Harmless chit-chat and loud phone calls can impact focus levels.
So, inevitably chances of distraction are higher in a hot-desking work environment, and if customers are looking for a quiet and controlled atmosphere—hot desking may not be the best option for them.
Not everyone would be willing to search for a new place to sit daily. Employees who are used to a routine, a fixed desk, or need greater privacy will find it challenging to adapt to this working model. While they may come to see its advantages in due time, such disruptions may lead to dips in productivity.
Workspaces are right up there with door handles, elevator buttons, and hotel TV remotes in terms of being riddled with germs, which may be a concern for some employees. Hot desking means more people and more germs, so make sure to have efficient cleaning policies in place, or this concept may not work best for you—especially when you’re responsible for the employees’ wellness, courtesy of being the workspace provider.
Some hot desking spaces don't come with much storage space, if at all. Seeing that you have to clear out the desk every day, the employees can’t carry around more than some essential files, research material, and a laptop because they need to take them all back at the end of the day.
Be it working from a hot desk or a fixed desk—there’s no doubt that the Covid-19 has changed how the global workforce works. The changes forced by the pandemic have made organizations and individuals alike reconsider how they want to work in the future.
But given the pros and cons, it’s safe to say that hot desking works for the right people. It’s undoubtedly a great space for people who favor flexible and fast-paced workplace solutions but not so much for individuals who are used to a fixed routine and privacy—and would like to keep it that way.
Gaining market share in the coworking space niche is a long climb to the top but catering specifically to your customers’ needs will ensure satisfaction and a steady stream of revenue.