What Is Hot Desking and What Are the Benefits?

April 14, 2019

Employees hot desking
Stephanie Dwilson

Hot desking, often called "non-reservation-based hoteling," is a trend in modern-day office culture that can increase collaboration and creativity, as long as you implement it the right way. It's not replacing traditional office systems, but is an alternative system being increasingly embraced by small- and medium-sized businesses. Here's a guide on the benefits of this system and how to set one up.

Hot Desking Meaning

This system (also referred to in this article as "hoteling") refers to offices where employees work at different desks every day. Depending on the setup, they might also have the option of working from home or another location outside of the office. In some cases, hoteling is done because a company simply doesn't have enough desks for every employee. Sometimes it's instituted to create a more collaborative office, Fast Company notes.

The hot desking meaning can refer to a variety of forms, but the bottom line is that employees don't have a designated desk. Sometimes it involves flex schedules and staggered work hours. You may have a big room full of desks, or you might create a "home office away from home" feeling with desks, living rooms and kitchens. You might have a smaller number of desks, while also offering armchairs, presentation tables and other places for working.

The Benefits of Hoteling

The two big benefits of hoteling are collaboration and cost-saving. Hoteling forces employees to break out of a rut and communicate more. It can help build a creative environment. It can also save your company money, especially if your staff works in shifts. (Up to 40 percent of office space can go vacant at any one time, Inc.com notes.) So rather than having lots of space that goes unused, office space is used efficiently. You might be surprised to learn that when it comes to office space, the comfort and layout of the furnishings can play a role in how positively employees take to hoteling, according to a study on Science Direct.

How to Set Up the System in Your Office

To successfully create a hoteling environment, you'll need to do a lot of research, Fast Company advises. Understand which employees will benefit. Analysts who work all day at their desks might not be a good fit, while sales or marketing staff could be a great choice. However, unless the majority of your employees are taking part in hoteling, you might create resentment if you allow too many people to "opt out."

When you switch over, give your employees the option of working from home to soften the change. You'll also want to have a conference room or offices available if they need to have a meeting or work on something that requires a lot of concentration. Set up desks, armchairs and long tables as options. Place desks in big, open locations and others in quieter alcoves or rooms. You might also want to provide noise-canceling headphones if things get too loud.

You can even invest in apps to help employees find their desks easily every day. One app that does this, called Comfy, lets employees see which desks are available in real-time and how close they are to needed resources. This can cut down on anxiety every morning.

Consider switching to standing desks so the height can be easily switched to accommodate multiple employees. Offer lockers so employees have a place to store their belongings. And keep antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizers readily available so germs aren't spread.

Hot desking is a creative solution that can save money and make work life more collaborative and engaging for your staff, but only if you approach the new system correctly. Do your research, talk to your employees and provide lots of options if you decide to go the hoteling route.

Sign Up to Receive Our Newsletter & Get the Best Ergonomic Tips