What is Hot Desking and What are the Benefits of It?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 29, 2022

Published November 30, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As more workplaces adjust to increasingly flexible ways of working, hot desking is becoming a popular way to utilize office space. Hot desking allows employees to use working spaces as and when needed in versatile arrangements. Understanding what hot desking is and its benefits are key to making the most of this dynamic way of working. In this article, we answer the question "what is hot desking?", explain the benefits, and describe the elements of an effective hot desking space.

What is hot desking?

To answer the question "what is hot desking?", it's important to understand how it works. In a hot desking arrangement, desks and workspaces are used interchangeably on an ad hoc basis by whoever needs them. Hot desks are a space-efficient way of getting more use out of the area in the office. With hot desking, people can work individually or in teams, and working in this way encourages collaboration and innovation between colleagues. Hot desking spaces can be part of private offices, or in shared public working areas.

Hot desks are particularly useful for staff who work in part in the field, but still need an office space in which to conduct some of their work. This arrangement is also ideal for task forces and cross-functional teams which require staff from a variety of departments to meet somewhere central in a versatile space. In some cases, offices exclusively use hot desks and staff sit somewhere new every day based on their day's activities. Hot desks are also useful areas for meetings with visitors to the office.

Benefits of hot desking

There are many benefits to using a hot desking arrangement in an office. Some of these benefits relate to the productivity of staff, while others relate to their enjoyment or convenience. Whether there's a hot desking area in your office, or there's a dedicated public workspace, hot desking is a highly productive arrangement. Here's a list of some of the benefits of hot desking:

Convenience

One of the major benefits of hot desking is the convenience it affords for those who use the space. Hot desking spaces allow a convenient area for those who don't solely work in an office space. For instance, field workers can use a hot desking space to complete their reports or do their administrative duties when they visit the office. Hot desks provide an open, convenient workspace for a range of employees to use whenever they need. Similarly, for groups, having a hot desk space in which to meet can be more convenient than booking a meeting room.

Related: How To Organize an Office (With Instructions and Benefits)

Flexibility

Another major benefit of hot desking is the flexibility it affords for staff. Employees can work in teams or individually, depending on what they need at the time. Hot desks also provide flexibility for staff in the hours they work, as they allow them to work there whenever they need. When they don't need the desk, others can use the space without having to book the desk or plan ahead. Hot desks provide staff with the ability to freely enter and leave the office whenever they need and do as much or as little work at a desk as necessary.

Related: Decorating Cubicles: 16 Ideas for Adding Style to Your Space

Team dynamics

Unlike private desks, hot desks facilitate teams working together and collaborating in a variety of arrangements. Cross-functional teams can come together to work on their projects with team members joining and leaving as needed. In this way, hot desking creates a dynamic space for teams to conduct a range of activities and work in a variety of ways.

This makes hot desking ideal for small start-ups and new companies where team members perform multiple roles and collaborate in their duties. If staff can sit anywhere or work next to whoever they're working with that day, it benefits the productivity and innovation of their teams. Many contemporary office arrangements use hot desks exclusively to promote a collaborative, socially active working environment.

Related: Promoting Collaboration in the Workplace: All You Need to Know

Low investment

Rather than providing all staff with their own desks, which may sit empty while staff are meeting or working elsewhere, hot desks are a low investment arrangement. This is because it's cheaper to buy a few larger hot desks than to purchase more desks which also take up more space. Hot desks are a cost-effective way of better using office real estate and spending less on workspace furniture.

Key elements of an effective hot desking space

There are a few key elements that effective hot desks have that make them useful, versatile, and accessible. A few of these elements include:

Power outlets

One of the most vital elements of a working hot desk space is a sufficient number of power outlets. Employees who use hot desks often require outlets to charge laptops, phones, or tablets, so having enough electrical outlets for everyone is highly important. Having power available at hot desks allows staff to work at them for longer without having to leave to charge essential equipment. Those working at hot desks usually work from laptops, so ensuring that the space supports this is key.

Space

A good hot desk has plenty of space for staff to work comfortably by themselves or sit together in a team. Having plenty of space around the hot desk also allows people to move around the working area when they leave or join. The more space at and around a hot desking area, the more versatile and accessible it is.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Working in an Open Office Layout

Accessibility

It's vital for hot desking spaces to be accessible to any staff that may wish to use them. Having tables that are low enough to sit at in a wheelchair, and have a clear and unobscured path to and from them is important. Regardless of whether or not there are permanent staff with special needs, it's vital to make sure that a hot desk space is functional for anyone who may need or want to use it.

Versatile arrangements

Having a versatile arrangement of hot desk space is important to make the space effective for anybody who needs it. Many hot desk arrangements use long desks, which allow any number of staff to sit together or separately. Some modular desk arrangements can also be useful by allowing staff to work at their own desk alone, or combining a number of desks to use in a group.

Related: The 6 Types of Work Environments

Printing facilities

One beneficial component of a hot desk space is printing facilities. These can make a hot-desking space as useful as personal desks by giving those using them the ability to print documents whenever they need. When team members what to print out info sheets, contracts, or other materials for meetings at hot desks, having nearby printing facilities makes a hot desk more convenient and productive.

Storage

If you're working at a communal desk, having somewhere to store your other belongings is helpful. Having a place to store your jacket, extra equipment, reference books, or food is useful for saving space at the desk itself, and keeping the workspace clutter-free for others sharing it. Storage options can be as simple as cubbies or shelves, or more secure options like lockers.

Related: 17 Examples of How to Decorate Your Office and the Benefits

Strong internet connection

Most of the time, those working at a hot desk need a reliable internet connection to perform their duties. A strong internet connection allows more work to be completed in a hot desk environment. When there is reliable internet, those working at hot desks can access essential work services such as email, shared drives, and online programs. Many remote or field workers can perform their duties from anywhere if they have access to the internet, so having an easily accessible, free Wi-Fi network means more people can do their work in that workspace.

Amenities like bathrooms and kitchens

As with any office space, access to amenities like bathrooms and kitchens is an essential facility for staff. These allow staff to work in the space for longer, and stay comfortable and engaged in their duties. When guests visit the office or are working at a hot desk while they're in your place of work, it's important that they have access to bathrooms.

Screens

A useful piece of technology for hot desks is an electronic screen. Screens that allow input from laptops can be helpful for team members sharing presentations, data, clips, video calls, or any other visual media from their personal computers. Using a screen is more convenient than using your own laptop screen and makes it easier for a larger group of people to see the content you're trying to share.

Now that we've answered the question "what is hot desking?", and explained the benefits, you'll be in a better position to create an effective hot desking space.

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