Feeling lukewarm about your current office setup? It may be time to try hot desking.
Hot desking is a system in which multiple employees use the same workstation during different times, usually on an ad hoc basis. This approach has recently risen in popularity as more employees have gone hybrid—and for good reason: Trading out dedicated desks for hot desks offers several advantages.
Here are a few perks of leveraging hot desking:
Saving office space: Hot desking eliminates redundant workstations so you can do more with less square footage.
Encouraging connection: Unlike dedicated workstations, a hot desk setup makes it easy for employees to interact with people outside their physical work area or department.
Promoting flexibility: Hot desking offers employees the right kinds of workstations at the right times, so they can easily change location as they shift gears to other activities.
Supporting autonomy: Allowing employees to choose where they sit and who they interact with gives them a stronger sense of autonomy and, ultimately, job satisfaction.
Warming up to the idea of hot desking? We’ll walk you through the basics.
5 Pointers for Designing the Ideal Hot Desking Setup
1. Come Up With a Plan
Clarify the ins and outs of how you’ll leverage hot desking so you create a layout that supports both business and employee needs.
Will all employees be hot desking or just certain teams or departments? If it’s the latter, how will you accommodate both designated and hot desks?
Will you take an ad hoc approach to hot desking, or will employees need to book workstations in advance?
Will you need conference rooms, private offices, or call booths to hold meetings?
How will employees be able to easily track each other down when needed?
2. Create a Thoughtful Layout to Support Performance
Although flexibility is a major benefit of hot desking, too much flexibility can cause chaos in the office. Imagine a group of people engaging in some animated brainstorming while nearby coworkers try to immerse themselves in deep work—or 2 people who often collaborate sitting on opposite sides of the office, forcing them to repeatedly leave their workstations and move through the office to meet in the middle.
Arrange hot desks thoughtfully by creating neighborhoods, which are areas dedicated to specific job functions, activity types, or even project teams. Employees with similar needs or workstyles can then easily group together, simultaneously encouraging collaboration where it’s needed and promoting a distraction-free working environment where it’s not. This also keeps employees on-task by minimizing through traffic.
When mapping out common areas, consider designating a collaborative area with a whiteboard and central seating, as well as a library area in a quiet corner of the office equipped with headphones at each workstation.
If you need some assistance planning your hot desk layout, a tool like RoomSketcher can get you started.
3. Keep Supplies Within Reach
One upside of a dedicated workstation is being able to stock it with your favorite goodies, which often isn’t possible with a hot desk—so make sure you’re still providing your employees with everything they need to work comfortably and efficiently.
Keep hot desks well-stocked with those oh-so-necessary but easy-to-overlook items like chargers, Ethernet cables, mouses, Post-it notes, pens, and wrist supports. If you prefer to sparsely stock hot desks, set up a central supply station employees can visit to grab what they need. Just make sure everyone remembers to put supplies back so items don’t end up scattered throughout the office.
Employees also tend to tote around more personal belongings when hot desking. To help your people out, install lockers, cubbies, or other storage where they can stow personal items.
4. Make It Easy to Book a Hot Desk (If Necessary)
If your team will be required to book hot desks in advance (this is sometimes called “hoteling”), make it easy for them to see and snag available desks. Skip over complicated spreadsheets or old-school forms and opt for a tech tool like Envoy or Kadence, which enables employees to view hot desk maps and book workstations with just a click or 2.
A booking tool can also help you solve availability problems by making it easy to see when hot desks may be over capacity for a given workday. You don’t want hybrid employees showing up to discover there are no available workstations—so, whatever system you use, make sure you can effectively track availability.
5. Remember That Hot Desking May Not Work for Everyone
Some employees may feel icy cold at the thought of hot desking. Employees with special needs, such as those who are neurodivergent, may prefer a dedicated workstation and the more predictable daily experience that comes with this consistency. An employee with mobility challenges may feel frustrated if they’re forced to constantly find new ways to navigate the office.
Before you roll out a hot desk setup, check in with each employee and determine whether hot desking may pose any additional challenges for them. If they prefer a dedicated desk, accommodate them. Remember, a comfortable, supported employee is a focused, productive employee.
Next Step: Start With the Necessities
Before you start mapping out neighborhoods and moving furniture, make sure you’ve got everything you need for a successful hot desk setup. We’ve got desks of all shapes and sizes, storage solutions, collaboration tools like whiteboards, and much more. Happy shopping.