Would you want to work in a hot-desking office? The employee perspective on hot-desking

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While hot-desking may have many advantages for companies, what is the impact of shared desks on employees? This article considers the employee perspective on what it is like working in a shared-desk office.

Potential limitations of hot-desking for employees

Hot-desking arrangements are not always liked. While some of this comes down to company implementation of the practices, there are some elements that are hard to get away from: the very nature of hot-desking means that employees don’t have an assigned desk, something that not all employees like.

No predictability of where you will be sat

A potential employee frustration with hot-desking is that there is not the standard predictability of where you will be sat. There is something nice about coming into work and knowing at least part of your routine. Hot-desking takes this away – you don’t know where you will be sat, who you will be sat next to, nor what the noise and environment in the office will be like that particular day. While not everything will mind this, some employees won’t like the very essence of hot-desking. 

Having to clear away your items each night

Another limitation of working in a hot-desking environment is that, depending on company policy, you may be expected to clear the shared desk – putting away your items so that the desk is clear each night. While this can have benefits (and people laying claim to desks can itself introduce problems of clutter), having to put everything away and get it out again the next morning adds another task that must be performed daily. 

Difficulty storing your office items

A final challenge of working in a hot-desking environment is where to store your papers, computer, and other material overnight. This can very much depend on your company’s implementation of hot-desking, but if storage is an afterthought, it can pose a practical challenge that employees would likely not experience if they had a permanent desk. 

Potential benefits of hot-desking for employees

While there are limitations of hot-desking for employees, there are also some possible upsides to the arrangements. 

Allows companies to get on board with a hybrid office environment

Possibly the biggest – although not always recognized – benefit of hot-desking is that it allows companies to transition to a hybrid working environment. Hot-desking allows savings associated with reducing office space to be realized, while still providing the ability for employees to come into the office, which can be important for maintaining company culture. Especially for those employees desiring greater flexibility than a traditional office jobs allows, hot-desking (and the savings in office space that can result) can be an important component in achieving these flexible arrangements. 

The possibility of meeting new people

Another potential benefit for employees that comes from hot-desking is that it makes it easier to meet new people within the firm. This provides the possibility of improving your work effectiveness, as well as increasing your social circle of work collegues. 

Avoiding sitting next to a particular person

In addition to meeting new people (or making sure to sit next to people that you are friendly with), hot-desking also can make it easier to avoid being sat next to the same person every day. Maybe there is someone who is noisy, complains a lot, or likes striking conversations when you are working. Hot-desking can allow you to pick where to sit, and avoid having to be co-located with this person every day.

Of course, the flip side is that there is always the possibility that a particular employee will opt to sit next to you (and there may be certain situations where this can pose additional problems that management would otherwise be able to avoid by assigning particular employees apart) – but at least to some extent, hot-desking provides some degree of greater control over your seating arrangments than a traditional setup. 

The potential of getting a nice desk

A final potential perk is that hot-desking provides the possibility of getting a nicer desk. You have greater control over where to sit compared to having an assigned desk. On quiet days in the office, it is possible all employees will be able to get a nice desk – a situation unlikely with assigned desks.