Hot-desking. Musical chairs for the office space.

Just when you thought your open office plan put your company on the cutting edge of office design, along comes something called hot-desking. A wild new work environment experiment where employees don’t have an assigned workplace.

Instead, every day as they walk into the office they can choose to sit and work wherever they want. They can pick a different spot every day —or even a different spot for different times of the day. It’s up to them.

The thought behind this new way of working is not to create mass confusion every morning, but rather to facilitate connections among employees, encourage collaboration, improve communication, assist in team building, strengthen employee engagement, and offer a variety of environments to suit each person’s mood, needs, and priorities on any given day.

But hot-desking isn’t for everyone. Before you jump in and make this change, look at how your employees work to see if hot-desking would enhance their ability to do their job — or just make it more complicated.

The advantages of hot-desking:

Less clutter
Since no one will have a designated workplace, employees will have to take everything they brought to the space that morning with them when they leave. So there’s less chance for desks to get cluttered with piles of paper, knick knacks, personal items, or old takeout food containers.

Employees get to know people outside their department
Normally, employees work in silos. Accountants work in accounting. Salespeople work in the sales department. Hot-desking helps breakdown those silos. Employees get to mix it up and sit next to people from other disciplines. Leading to conversations between workers who would never normally talk to each other and help build a stronger sense of community. This also means employees never have to sit next to people they don’t like.

Saving money
Traditional work environments typically create a specific spot for each employee to work. With hot-desking, companies can cut the costs of running an office by up to 30%. Instead of purchasing a desk, computer, telephone and other auxiliary office equipment for each employee, you can limit your purchases to a select few that can be used as-needed. This saves both physical space in your office and the costs associated with equipping a space for each individual employee.

Customize your space to your staff’s needs
With hot-desking, you have the opportunity to organize your office around the unique needs of your staff. For employees who only need a few moments to check their email or make a phone call, you can strategically place laptop friendly seating arrangements in both private and group settings around the office. Then add a mix of sit-or-stand work stations, rolling benches, and lounge seating to provide flexibility for meetings and fluid collaboration. Of course, you’ll still need quiet places for working solo, private areas for making phone calls, and team areas complete with whiteboards or screens to hash out ideas.

Of course, there are some office amenities you should consider before implementing a hot-desk program: adjustable workstations, ergonomic furniture, lower panel walls, fresh colors, robust Wi-Fi, glass office walls, focus work areas, collaboration spaces, relaxation rooms, and phone booths.

Getting your office ready

Employee happiness
Employees are used to having a space that they could personalize with family photos, mementos, and their own design style. This could have a negative impact on job satisfaction and contribute to a sense of loss, isolation, and marginalization, which may have serious effects on your staff’s sense of well-being and comfort. Many companies have mobile storage that locks or traditional lockers that employees can store personal effects that can be used to personalize a desk for the day.

Unwanted noise and competition for space can make employees feel less valued, so plan for plenty of ways where an employee can work based on the type of work they have to accomplish that day.

Another issue to consider is employee health. With dozens of employees sharing the same equipment, you may encounter increased illnesses from the spread of germs. Making hand sanitizes and cleaning products available helps combat the spread of germs.

Ergonomics and Special needs

Some employees may have specific physical needs, and if a hot desk doesn’t have the right lumbar support, wrist rest, or screen resolution, you could experience additional physiological effects as well. Some companies have a check out system for Ergonomic support products for the day or month and returned for maintenance and adjustments.

Modernizing infrastructure
To facilitate hot-desking you’ll need to move your entire business system to the cloud — including HR, payroll, and your printing services. Employees will also need to be able to join meetings and chat with colleagues remotely from anywhere in the building. So before you decide to start hot-desking, consider the communications software you might need and the physical hardware that will make this approach possible.

New work policies
To help ensure that hot-desking will work for your company, you’ll need to establish a new set of policies that cover everything from clear-desk and non-exclusive work area rules to good hygiene practices.

Contact us today for a free design consultation to plan out your hot-desking environment