Hot desking (also known as flexi desks, desk hoteling, desk sharing or even nomadic working) is a term you’ve probably heard used a lot around the modern workplace, but what exactly is it? Put simply, hot desking means being able to utilise any desk within your workplace.
The idea is to bring flexibility to your workspace – allowing employees to move around the office floor to accommodate different daily activities, to work directly with your team or collaborate with different colleagues, and to work in the area that is most appropriate for your current projects or goals.
How It Works
By simply using non-allocated desks or workstations within your workspace, hot desking gives your team the freedom to sit where they want, when they want. This can seem overwhelming to manage, but with desk booking technology, desks can be easily booked in advance via an online scheduling tool, kiosk or mobile app. A good desk booking system will have easy ways for employees to ‘check in’ to their booked desks – often RFID functionality is used, allowing the user to simply tap in or out with a card.
The History of Hot Desking
The term hot desking is said to have come directly from the concept of ‘hot racking’ – a naval practice where sailors with opposing shifts shared the same bunk, thus saving space. In the modern workspace, desk sharing and hot desking has seen a surge in popularity, as businesses embrace the concept of a flexible working solution. A recent report by CBRE found that of 400 global corporations surveyed, two-thirds plan to implement shared desk workspaces by 2020. Clearly, the future is flexible, but why exactly is flexibility in the workplace important, especially when it comes to desks?
The Benefits of Sharing Desks
There are many reasons to embrace hot desking in the workplace. From cutting costs to increasing collaboration between colleagues, here are some of the main advantages of a hot desking system:
- Better space utilisation – managing your workspace more efficiently can bring about many positive changes, including significant cost savings and an increase in productivity. The average cost of a workstation in London is £5,746 – this is an expensive overhead when the average desk utilisation rate is just 38%. By collecting data on how many desks are used in your space, you can create the perfect hot desking ratio of employees to workstations, promoting ultimate efficiency and cutting costs in the process.
- Increased collaboration – by asking employees to share desks and freely move around the office, you grant freedom to your workforce. Mixing up teams, moving teams around the space, or allowing colleagues whose paths rarely cross to sit next to each other, can all help increase conversation and collaboration across the business.
- More agility and flexibility – if you want a more flexible workplace overall, hot desking is a great place to start. From quiet spaces to areas that allow more chat and brainstorming between colleagues, sharing desks is the first step towards increased agile or flexible working in your office environment.
People don’t want freedom from work, but just freedom within work. - Lewis Mumford, Philosopher
How to Hot Desk Effectively
The key to an excellent hot desking system is to ensure the technology used is simple, easy-to-use and built to last. Workspace management tools will usually provide everything needed to most effectively regulate shared desks, including kiosks, desk booking systems and mobile apps. The latter is particularly important to a modern workforce – the ease of booking your desk on your morning commute must not be overlooked!
Oktra, an award-winning office design company with headquarters in the heart of London, saw employee numbers rise sharply by 30%, thus needing a system which more effectively managed their entire workforce. By introducing shared desks (or workplace neighbourhoods as they called them), Oktra were able to better manage their office space, and grant flexibility to their growing team. Find out more about Oktra and their successful use of hot desking.
“Using Condeco Desk Booking has allowed us to create workplace neighbourhoods”
Sodexo, a global facilities services business, were committed to reducing 50% of their real estate in their London flagship office. To help manage these expectations, they utilised hot desking. The result? Along with the reduction in real estate, they saved 2.5 million pounds over the course of five years. The new shared desk scheme has been so popular, they are now rolling it out to their regional offices. Watch the video and find out how Sodexo implemented hot desking.
“I find it very easy to use, I check availability, book my desk and that’s it, I’m all set up” – Jill Hunter, Senior Legal Counsel, Sodexo