The Hybrid Office: The Pros and Cons of Hot Desking

Dorothy S. Bass


The Hybrid Office: The Pros and Cons of Hot Desking

Hot desking is becoming a hot topic among companies. Allowing people to work at any available desk or workstation might first appear as an intriguing concept, but always more workplaces are making the leap. While this practice has a lot of potential benefits, it would be too good to be true if it didn’t have any possible drawbacks. In this read, we’ll break down the pros and cons of hot desking for you to decide which side you’re on.

Read on to learn more about hybrid offices, hot desking, as well as the pros and cons of this practice. Or discover ViewSonic’s solutions for the workspace.

Hybrid offices, where some employees work on-site and others work remotely, are becoming the next new thing, and hot desking is a popular practice in such workplaces. In many ways, this makes sense, as hot desking offers greater flexibility, amongst other advantages. But employers do need to think carefully about whether it is right for them and their employees.

Over the next few lines, we’ll explore the concept of hot desking more in depth, how it relates to hybrid work, and why it is becoming such a common feature in modern workplaces. We will then have a look at 5 pros and cons of hot desking and review advantages as well as potential drawbacks associated with this practice.

Hot Desking and Hybrid Workplaces

Hot desking can be defined as the practice of not assigning employees their own individual desk, but instead allowing them to work at any available workstation. It has grown in popularity since the 1990s, coinciding with the rise of open-plan offices. But the policy itself continues to divide opinion among employees and employers alike.

In hybrid workplaces, where staff are given the freedom to either work on-site or work remotely, hot desking can make a lot of sense. After all, a cornerstone of the entire hybrid work model is flexibility, and assigning people an individual workstation when they may not even attend the workplace can be seen as a waste of office space.

Nevertheless, it is a good idea to carefully consider both the pros and cons of such an approach.

What is Hot Desking?

5 Pros of Hot Desking

The growing popularity of hot desking is directly linked to the various benefits it can deliver. In this section, we explore five advantages associated and why they’re so appealing for modern professional environments.

1. Suitable for Hybrid Offices

A major plus point associated with hot desking is the fact that it is highly compatible with hybrid approaches to work. When employees have the flexibility to move between working from home and working in the office, it can often work out well to provide flexibility in terms of seating too. Not only is this in keeping with office design trends, it is also a sensible policy to avoid allocating desks to people who are not necessarily going to be in the office every day.

2. Encourages Collaboration

Some advocates of hot desking argue that the arrangement can encourage collaboration by facilitating the employees to interact with different people rather than speaking to the same colleagues every day. Of course, in a hybrid work model, this will only be relevant to those in the workplace rather than those working remotely. Nevertheless, it can be a useful advantage, helping to spark the kind of fresh discussions that lead to innovation and improvements.

To foster this collaboration, adapted visual solutions are key. Given the mobile and versatile nature of this work style, USB-C monitors (either stationary or portable) will allow anyone to directly connect and charge their laptops. Interactive displays like this one placed at strategic points throughout the office (meeting and huddle rooms, common areas…) will also help create a link between on-site and offsite employees.

3. Cost-Effective and Space-Saving

Among the biggest arguments in favor of hot desking is its ability to save space and, therefore, money. In fact, moving to an open-plan, hot desking layout can save as much as 30 percent on the costs of running an office, with the savings especially apparent in workplaces that previously used cubicles or private office space. In hybrid workplaces, fewer desks are required because some staff will be working off-site at any given time.

4. Provides a Level Playing Field

While it may not suit every workplace or fit with every corporate culture, another positive aspect of hot desking can be the way that it provides a level playing field. People sit together and work alongside each other, regardless of where they are in the company hierarchy. This can be good for everything from onboarding new recruits to creating the sort of work environment where people feel comfortable with sharing their ideas.

5. Can Make the Office Tidier

One of the more overlooked plus points associated with hot desking is its potential to make the office a tidier place. The explanation here is simple – when people do not have their own dedicated desk spaces, they do not tend to leave things lying around in the office. Personal workstations can quickly and easily become cluttered over time, which has been shown to impact productivity, what can also make the workplace a lot less appealing to look at.

5 Pros of Hot Desking

5 Cons of Hot Desking

Although there are some significant benefits associated with hot desking, it is also worth taking into consideration the negatives too. In this section, we look at some of the possible disadvantages.

1. Potential for Disruption

Among the biggest arguments against hot desking is its potential to cause disruption in the workplace. When people are not guaranteed their own workstation, they may waste time looking for an available desk and then setting things up the way they like them. Sitting around different people each day can also create a sense that the office does not have real continuity, and some employees could find that the lack of routine impacts their productivity.

2. Increased Workplace Distractions

Along with the possibility of more disruption in the workplace comes an increased risk of workplace distractions. This can occur for any number of reasons, from teams having to collaborate while sitting in different parts of the office, to people introducing themselves to people they have not previously sat with. This is significant because when work is interrupted by distractions, it increases stress levels among staff and can affect morale.

3. Loss of Structure / Hierarchy

In some organizations, the level playing field offered through hot desking can be valuable, but it will not suit everyone. Some companies need to have a clear hierarchy, while others need to have a clear structure in terms of where people work and who they work alongside. There can be value in people sitting alongside members of the same team, for example, so hot desking risks the loss of structure and hierarchy, leading to a les organized environment.

4. Can Hinder Sense of Belonging

To minimize employee turnover and maximize employee morale, you ideally want to create a sense of belonging among workers. Hot desking can sometimes get in the way of team building. When workers do not have a workspace of their own, they may be less likely to feel settled and more likely to feel uneasy. Hot desking also prevents employees from being able to make adjustments to their work area, making each workstation less personalized and more generic.

5. Hygiene and Well-Being Issues

Finally, there is some evidence to suggest that hot desking can be bad for employees because it can lead to hygiene issues. When multiple people are using the same equipment throughout the working week, and even on any given day, germs and bacteria can be spread more easily. Well-being can also be adversely affected. For instance, some employees may require extra support on their chairs or a lower desk height, which is easier if they have their own workstation.

5 Disadvantages of Hot Desking

Final Thoughts

The rise of open-plan offices and hybrid work arrangements has led many businesses to adopt hot desking as a seating policy. The practice does have some significant benefits, such as the ability to save space and money. But it also has drawbacks, like a tendency to create more disruption. At its best, hot desking offers great flexibility and can level the playing field, especially if paired with an adapted workstation. But you should also ponder the negative aspects before deciding whether to adopt this approach.

If you want to learn more about other workplace trends, don’t miss out on the article on hybrid work, or head straight to ViewSonic’s solutions adapted for hot desking.


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