Hot-desking is a way in which organizations promote the use of a single work desk or a workstation for multiple employees during different time periods. Traditionally, every employee in an organization has had a dedicated and designated space or a physical desk/cubicle. However, the concept of hot-desking continues to pick up at a rapid pace, especially for companies which have employees working in several shifts, having flexible schedules, or where companies have their office spaces at prime locations where real estate prices and leases are skyrocketing. Interestingly, the phase “Hot-desking” is believed to have been originated from the naval practice of hot racking, where sailors on different shifts share the same bunks or racks and take turns for sleeping.
Estimates are that Hot-desking could help companies to reduce operational expenses by up to 30% -a significant number to help improve their overall profitability (source https://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/ups-and-downs-hot-desking-v-co-working). There is no doubt that in today’s digital world hot-desking has more pros than cons. For those still not convinced, a few of the advantages are listed below:
The biggest advantage of hot-desking for organizations is saving office space. Moving offices from convenient locations or business districts to farther areas has an obvious adverse impact on most of the employees. Hence, organizations can opt to move to smaller offices or utilize the space allocated for fixed number of desks as per their employee strength for other activities, while still choosing to remain at central locations in the city.
Since the workstations are also shared, organizations can save on the expenditure of physical hardware devices like PCs, laptops, desk phones as well as software license costs. The concept of hot-desking further extends to employees being connected remotely while physically remaining in the office premises. This idea then implies lesser money spent on office maintenance when a significant proportion of the staff members are frequently out of the office or away from their desks. In the context of energy and resource utilization, Hot-desking can also be seen as an initiative to make a workplace eco-friendly as resources are shared in some way or another.
Some companies also promote hot-desking by allowing employees to use any available desk or space in the office. Doing so helps to create a better synergy between employees not necessarily working in the same departments or teams. It creates a platform for employees to interact, discuss, and share innovate ideas, come up solutions or suggestions from a third person perspective and create a friendly, open, and collaborative culture within the wider organization. Creativity is a critical component for any company to succeed in the long run and hot-desking can positively contribute to this by bringing the employees closer and helping them to think out of the box – removing some of the physical boundaries and structured constructs can help open the thinking as well in some ways.
Flexible working environment
Hot-desking is the right choice for the modern day employees who can also work independently or remotely at different points in time. Employees who are on the move most of the times like sales reps or consultants visiting client sites don’t really need a dedicated desk in the office. This promotes a platform for employees to have flexible schedules which not only helps them to plan and manage their personal and professional life but also create a more trusted and employee friendly work culture within the organization. This leads to better productivity from the employees as they feel more privileged to have such benefits over other organizations having rigid work timings.
In a typical organizational set up, it is observed that managers and higher ups have a dedicated cabin or a separate cubical which somehow isolates them from the other employees. If organizations adopt a hot desk policy for all employees it automatically helps to create an informal and open environment within the organization. This results in improving the immediate supervisor-subordinate relationship and creates a camaraderie amongst many employees unrelated by their nature of work in the organization.
It’s not all smooth sailing though – it is crucial that hot-desking should be strategized and executed in the most efficient and effective way. If not, then it may have a negative impact as well. For example, shifts need to be planned in a way that there is no wait time for employees in the next shift to start working, or a clean desk policy is rigorously followed to avoid any personal hygiene and cleanliness issues. This is to make sure that the employees are motivated enough to support the hot desk policy.
That said, though, the wider ramifications of a hot-desking policy are positive. Author of “Business Re-Imagined: Why Work Isn’t Working and What You Can Do About It”, David Coplin had said, “We need to take a more flexible approach to both the workplace and the work we do; one that provides us both the physical and cognitive space to harness the incredible power, insight and experience we offer, but focused not on the individual processes but instead on the overall outcomes our organisations are seeking to achieve.” Hot-desking seems to be a perfectly valid way to achieve that!