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Understanding hot desking pros and cons for the hybrid office

Hot desking is one way to manage workspaces in a hybrid office. Learn some hot desking pros and cons to decide if it's the right approach for your company.

Hot desking has become a hot topic -- no pun intended -- among IT leaders in the last year as they look to implement the best strategy to support hybrid work. Some organizations are reducing their office space to cut real estate costs, while others are redesigning their existing offices to focus more on collaboration and meeting rooms. Hot desking enables employees who come to the office to reserve workspaces and IT resources on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Of the more than 900 companies surveyed in Metrigy's global "Workplace Collaboration MetriCast 2022" study, roughly 27% had implemented a hot desking strategy to support hybrid work. Those evaluating how to support employees in a hybrid workplace must weigh the hot desking pros and cons to determine if it's the right policy for their office.

The advantages of hot desking

1. Optimize space

Hot desking enables employees in the office part time to share workspaces, thus reducing the need to assign employees their own unique work location. Today, about 65% of the typical office floor plan is provisioned for individual work. But employees may only need to come into the office a few days a week for meetings and occasional individual work, meaning that implementing hot desking enables companies to change workspaces to create more meeting rooms and huddle areas.

2. A more informed staff

This pro only applies to organizations that invest in hot desking management apps, which enables people to see who's coming into the office and to request a seat near teammates. Using these apps also avoids the risk of someone coming into the office only to find there are no available workspaces or available spaces are in less-than-ideal locations.

The disadvantages of hot desking

1. Hot desking requires management

For hot desking to be successful, organizations must have a management plan in place. Approximately half of companies report purchasing an app to manage shared workspaces. These kinds of apps are available from both standalone companies, such as Envoy, OfficeSpace Software, Robin, Wisp by Gensler and WorkInSync, and collaboration vendors, including Microsoft, Cisco and Zoom.

Apps may also support meeting space reservation and include features that automatically free up a space if someone no-shows their reserved time. Apps from collaboration vendors may be tied into desktop devices, such as phones or all-in-one displays that include a camera, microphone and embedded collaboration software.

2. Potential device duplication

In today's hybrid environment, employees hot desking at the office still participate in virtual meetings, meaning they need a high-quality camera and headset when in the office and at home. This means establishing a policy that provisions workspaces with webcams and requires remote employees to bring their headsets to the office or to have home and office headsets to eliminate the risk of damage during a commute or avoid a scenario in which an employee forgets the headset.

3. Loss of personalization

A hot desking environment doesn't let employees personalize their workspace with their choice of lighting, devices and decorations, like family and pet pictures. This may be less than ideal for some and may not matter at all to others, but it is a factor to consider when determining if a hot desking approach is best. Employees who spend a good deal of time in the office, say three or more days, may prefer to make their work locations feel a bit more like home.

Hot desking pros and cons: The bottom line

As with most IT decisions, no one-size-fits-all approach exists. Consider implementing hot desking if you require employees come into the office on a part-time basis and you are looking to optimize existing workspaces.

However, if you have plenty of room and prefer to give your employees their own dedicated desks, hot desking may not be for you. If you do decide to implement hot desking, consider investing in workspace management apps to optimize space allocation.

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