Hot desking: hot or not?

hot desking

Hot desking is a trend in office design that many companies swear by as it boasts countless positive benefits to team productivity and morale. But is it for everyone? Recently we’ve seen greater debate about whether not having your own specific space in a workplace is more of a hindrance to productivity than a stimulant.

In this post, we’ll give you a brief overview of hot desking, alongside its pros and cons. Let’s take a look!


What is hot desking?

In open plan offices where employees outnumber desks, assigned seating is an inefficient use of valuable space and an unnecessary expense. Hot desking proposes a solution by allowing anyone to sit in any desk. With modern day working environments and employees often in meetings and working out of office, the space is maximised for those who require a desk.

So, let’s get into the pros and cons.


Pros


More flexibility in individual workspaces

Today, more people work from home or out of office for various reasons which have benefits for both the employer and employee. By allowing staff to take control of their own work-life balance, businesses hope to increase productivity through a happier workforce.

Combine this with today’s technology which allows the ability to work from anywhere, hot desking saves space which can be used for informal breakout spaces and offers a more relaxed environment for staff.


Cost effective

With a reconfiguration of the office, hot desking businesses can invest in fewer desks. This can cut the costs of running an office by up to 30%. With such savings, businesses can reinvest in better technology making it easier for employees to be mobile, not needing to be in the office as much.

And what happens when employees can manage their own time in the office? We get a happier workforce!


Encourages a more social culture and better networking opportunities

Hot desking can also encourage new collaborations and unexpected connections. With assigned seating, staff tend to work in silos. Hot desking creates ‘collisions’ between staff and the circulation of knowledge improves performance. This in turn can improve employee identification with the business or brand as a whole rather than just the team. These new collaborations are an excellent communication tool – face to face communication is proven to be the most important activity in the office and improves productivity and efficiency.


Offers a tidier and more minimalist office environment

With no assigned desks, employees cannot leave their personal belongings behind which often creates clutter. Implementation of a tidy desk policy ensures the desk is presentable for the next user. Clutter-free and well organised offices communicate the right impression to potential clients and allow employees to focus in a clean environment. Research indicates a correlation between productivity and clutter.


Cons


No personal space/personalisation

Although hot desking creates a clutter-free environment, many employees dislike the fact they have no personal space that they can make their own. Employees not having anywhere to store their belongings can make the workplace feel transient, uncomfortable and impersonal.


Loss of team cohesion and productivity

In contrast to the aforementioned positive, hot desking has further been criticised for negatively impacting cohesion within teams. With the dynamism of hot desking, staff are often not sat next to the same person. This can create networking opportunities but can leave employees less able to form close workplace bonds. This can contribute to a change in company culture.

Hot desking in some situations has also been seen to reduce productivity rather than enable it with some surveys showing that more than 25% of companies suffer a dip in productivity as a result of implementing a hot desking policy. In addition, a survey carried out by Unison in 2012 showed:

• 90% of respondents said it has a negative effect on morale
• 90% said it increased stress levels
• Only 15% felt that flexibility and efficiency had increased


Lack of Focus

Research carried out by Dianne Hoskins of Gensler, a US office design firm, which looked at 90,000 people from 155 companies across 10 industries, found that increasing productivity in the workplace isn’t through the ability to collaborate, but the ability to focus.
The research also found that focus is the one thing that new styled hot desking type environments makes hardest. The research also found that those that can focus are more able to collaborate, more likely to learn and more able to socialise. Hot desking would appear to hinder these things.


What do you think?
Have you noticed the conflict? As it stands, what makes hot desking positive is also the same factor that can make it negative for your working environment. When considering hot desking, you should first and foremost sit down with your staff and discuss their feelings towards it. An open, honest environment is the cornerstone of any office change.
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