The popularity of hot desking has been on the rise, particularly in the post-covid era. The hybrid model of work has been a major contributor helping this rising popularity of hot desking offices. Before examining the economic benefits that small businesses and start-ups can expect from hot desking, let us understand what hot desking is.
Hot desking is a game-changer for startups, promoting flexibility, collaboration, and cost-efficiency.
What is Hot Desking
The practice of space optimization followed by military organizations can be considered the earliest evolution of hot desking and was particularly visible in naval ships where tiny spaces with limited areas for sleeping had to be shared by many people. Beds were also shared with members of the team working on a different shift so that a 50% reduction in bed capacity could be achieved. When another team member arrives to use the bed, it is still warm, thanks to the previous user, and that gave rise to the term ‘hot’.
Hot desking in modern times
In modern times, the practice of organizations sharing their workspace or work desks between employees has come to be known as hot desking. This is in contrast to fixed seat arrangements where every employee is assigned a desk that he/she retains throughout his/her tenure with the employer. Similar to the practice followed by military organizations, hot desking helps commercial organizations to optimize space and put reduced work desks within a given office space.
The earliest adoption of hot desking office came from Coworking spaces though the manner in which hot desking is used will depend entirely on the user company implementing the practice. Some user organizations choose ad-hoc seating which means there will be no advance booking. In other instances, advance booking is allowed several days in advance and the desk space for a particular duration is guaranteed. There are endless possibilities when it comes to using hot desks.
Hybrid work culture
Hybrid work culture means working partly from home and partly from an assigned office and is a new trend. During the pandemic, many employers realized that working from home was a viable option and has many benefits for the employees and employers. Enhanced work-life balance, lesser commutation to work, better workplace safety, and enhanced mental health were among these benefits. On the other hand, employers gained from improved productivity and reduced costs.
Hybrid model challenges
As with many other trendy and new things, the hybrid work model too has its set of challenges. When employees opt to work from home for 3 or 4 days a week, workspaces can remain empty for a major part of the week impacting the viability of facility managers. Hot desking has been identified as the best way to combat this situation. This way, the desks available within a facility will be assigned to employees on fixed days of the week so that there are no vacant desks on any day of the week.
Economic benefits of hot desking
Now that we have examined the basics of hot desking, let us understand the economic benefits of hot desking. In the first place, hot desking provides more space either for sub-letting to others or creating activity-based areas, Irrespective of how a company or a facility owner decides to utilize the space, the multiplicity of options is a great way to start.
Greater collaboration is another benefit that hot desking brings and this is opposed to the fixed seat culture in traditional offices. Desk sharing helps in greater opportunities to meet people from different departments or different employers. This enhanced collaboration opportunities in new bonding and effective execution of inter-departmental communication. In other words, hot desking makes it easier for different teams to collaborate within the workspace instead of using meeting rooms. In many situations, such collaborations are more effective within the workspace than in the meeting rooms.
Cost savings from hot desking will be governed by the manner in which the available space is utilized. Facility managers in particular will gain significantly since they can adopt the hot desking model to accommodate more people within the available space and optimize every inch for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Higher productivity and employee engagement
Employees enjoy better flexibility with hot desking and that is important for several reasons including their productivity. Some employees prefer a quiet environment while others are more comfortable in a conversational environment. With hot desking, employees have the option to choose the workspace they are most comfortable with. Creating a congenial office environment contributes significantly to employee productivity and engagement.
The flip side of hot desking
While we have seen a host of advantages with hot desking, there are certain disadvantages that should be factored in while choosing this option. Specifically, there are 3 situations where a hot desk may not be the best option.
- For smaller businesses with just 4 to 15 people, the costs associated with new office rebuilds and IT solutions may cost the moon for the perceived gain of a workspace offering greater collaboration opportunities and greater flexibility.
- Businesses needing special equipment may not find hot desking the best option for them. Certain business functions may need special computers, drawing boards, direct access to printers, or more such gadgets for everyday work. Equipping every desk with these special facilities will drill a hole through the wallet. In this situation, a traditional office may be better suited for the business.
- For some businesses, on-site collaboration at frequent intervals is essential and a guaranteed seat instead of seat swapping works better in such situations. These businesses also tend to have explicit schedules requiring all employees to be available in the office at a specific time. Combining fixed seats with hot desking can address some of these problems but not all of them.
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