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What is hot desking? Everything you need to know


8 November, 2022

If you haven’t already, then say goodbye to your potted plant, framed family picture, and regular office desk…….. and hello to hot desking. While it’s certainly not a new concept for freelancers and startups, hot desking is a trend now being embraced by companies of all shapes and sizes looking to infuse more efficiency, flexibility, and creativity into their employee experience.

What is hot desking?

Hot desking is a form of satellite workplace sharing where an employee books a single desk or workstation in a shared space. Empowering agile working, it’s basically the opposite of having a fixed desk in a traditional office layout. Otherwise known as flex-desking or hot seating, the usual arrangement is for employees to use a mobile app to reserve a desk or shared table for a day, or even a few hours. Having significantly evolved in our new world of remote and hybrid work, leading flex office providers such as Mindspace are extending the hot desking experience by offering on-demand meeting rooms, access to beautiful kitchens and comfy lounges, and a range of wellness amenities.

What are the benefits of hot desking?

The most obvious benefit of hot desking is the ability to provide an all-in-one creative workspace experience, without the overheads and set-up costs of a traditional office. It’s an ideal solution for a growing number of hybrid companies offering a mix of on-site and remote work arrangements. Even in the pre-Covid days, companies often experienced vast inefficiencies with empty office seats and unused meeting rooms. As demand for smaller, more efficient office spaces is now on the rise, whether in private offices or coworking spaces, hot-desking provides significant bottom-line savings.

Hot desking is also a great solution for avoiding worker isolation. Freelancers and early-stage startups have long appreciated the networking value of hot desking and coworking spaces. Post-Covid, an increasing number of larger companies are understanding that a hot desking environment provides plenty of much-needed social interaction for remote workers, as well as new opportunities to collaborate and share ideas with different people from other teams and companies. Moving away from the ‘same-old’ routines encourages fresh thinking and a dynamic environment conducive to creativity and productivity.

Hot desking also gives greater flexibility to employees – allowing them to rent a desk for a couple of hours and from multiple different locations.  Mindspace members enjoy access to on-demand hot desks, meeting rooms, and office amenities in over 40 locations across 20 cities worldwide. This is useful for digital nomads, employees traveling for work, freelancers looking to break into new markets, and companies employing global talent, enabling easy access to a workplace and coworking community from different locations.

 What are the disadvantages of hot desking?

When you hot desk, you reserve a desk space on a first-come, first-served basis – which can sometimes be a spontaneity killer. It’s wise to think ahead and plan your day in order to book the right workspace for your needs.

While proven to boost productivity and creativity, some argue that open-plan offices are noisy and distracting, making it harder to focus. At Mindspace we try to mitigate this by offering private “phone booths” for conversations and phone calls, offering a reasonable balance between collaboration and privacy. However, for employees working with highly confidential information or for teams requiring a consistent seating structure or ongoing collaboration, hot desking might not be a compatible work arrangement.

Ironically, although hot desking provides plenty of social interaction for workers, a constantly changing work environment could potentially hinder people forming long-term work relationships and establishing a personal identity at work.

What is the difference between hot desking and coworking?

Hot desking refers to reserving a work spot on an on-demand and ad-hoc basis – meaning there are no designated desks. Workers can choose to share a table with random people, reserve a private cubicle or standing desk, snuggle up with their laptop on the lounge sofa or opt for any kind of unconventional seating arrangement that suits them that day.

Coworking is where different companies share a flexible office workspace or building, where most employees, with the exception of freelancers, have their own dedicated desk. At Mindspace we provide multiple coworking options, from customized furnished offices and fully branded floors with meeting rooms, to open spaces shared by different companies.

The idea of coworking is to provide companies with flexible office space to suit their needs, plus access to additional rooms and amenities shared between the other companies and professionals in the community. Hot desking is synonymous with coworking facilities, as there is often an open space with on-demand seating accompanying adjacent private offices.

Is hot desking right for you?

There are a few questions you need to ask before understanding if hot desking is right for you and your organization.

Take a good look around the office and ascertain if you often have empty desks and unused spaces. If you do, then hot desking can offer you a way to downsize and operate in a more efficient way, cutting back expensive fixed and long-term rental costs.

With cyclical change we are often faced with economic uncertainty and market volatility, so consider the savings you can make from moving away from a traditional office set-up towards a more flexible office arrangement with hot desking. This will assist the transition to a hybrid working model (if you haven’t done that already) and provide much-needed social interaction for remote workers.

If you deal with highly sensitive information, hot desking probably isn’t the right option for you. However flexible private offices in a coworking space may provide you with similar social benefits and the same on-demand wellness amenities that come with hot desking.

Do you want to be able to tap into a global pool of talent and still offer the perks of a stylish and comfortable office from multiple locations? At Mindspace we offer daily, monthly and annual membership passes, and your employees can work out of any of our global locations.

How does your team operate on a daily basis?

Do they communicate exclusively via email, slack and other digital channels? If that’s the case, your employees may greatly benefit from the face-to-face communication and sense of community that hot desking offers. If you’re worried about office chit-chat and other distractions, know that you can take advantage of private cubicles to ‘get into the zone’ and find focus. However, if your team needs to sit together and collaborate in person on an ongoing basis – then hot desking probably isn’t the right move for you.

Do you want to provide a dynamic work environment that encourages people to be creative, interact with diverse groups of people and feel inspired by having different surroundings? If yes, then hot desking is the perfect way to shake up the office environment and tap into new creative sources. We offer this in most of our locations, such as our flexible offices to rent in London. For more advantages and disadvantages of flexible working spaces, here’s another article. One thing’s for sure: flexible work spaces are the future of work.

If you’re interested in exploring the optimal solution for your company please feel free to contact us and one of our friendly advisors will assist you.

About the author

Mindspace is a boutique flex space provider, presenting a global mindset with a local flavor. We serve companies in over 40 prime locations across Europe, Israel and the US.

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