covid hot desking

5 Hot Desking Protocols Every Workplace Should Follow

The way we work is undergoing one of the greatest shifts of all time. The long-established norm of having your own desk and sticking to it is being challenged with a sense of urgency no-one could have predicted.

This change began long before Covid 19. The impact of the global pandemic on how office and facility managers think about their workspace has only served to accelerate that change.

As organizations implement, or at least create, their return to work strategies, hot-desking is being hotly debated. For many, it offers the only way to effectively manage a safe return to work.

But hot desking is not without its pitfalls – from time wasted searching for a desk to the extra precautions in place around sanitation, which are now part of our daily routines.

Should I book my desk in advance? Should the person who last used the desk have cleaned up their mess? Where should I store my cables, equipment and personal items?

These are all valid questions and ones that those who implement hot desking solutions don’t always know the answer to. Getting your hot desking policies and etiquette nailed down are key to a successful workplace.

Here are five hot desking protocols to follow to make your transition as smooth as possible:

Book a desk in advance

Using a workplace scheduling tool that enables people to look at an office floor plan and quickly spot which desks are available makes the desk booking experience as easy as possible.

Booking desks in advance also enables organization’s to predict who will be coming in and when – which is key to managing capacity and space utilization.

Offer storage solutions 

One common issue which facilities managers will often run into when attempting to implement hot desking solutions is that employees don’t necessarily have their own personal desk space to store their belongings.

Having a dedicated storage area set up in the forms of lockers or other storage solutions allows items to be placed securely as well as minimizing clutter around the workspace.

Ensuring regular communication with employees will also make them aware that it is their responsibility to take all of their belongings with them when their slot has ended, and to ensure a smooth transition with the next user.

Sanitize desks before AND after use

While good hygiene and maintaining a clean workplace environment was always paramount for office managers and facilities managers – the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the importance of cleanliness and sanitization.

By sanitizing your individual workspace before and after you use it, the risk of spreading the virus will be greatly reduced. This is particularly important when interchanging desks in a hot desking environment.

Hot-desking tools like Smartway2 can automatically take a desk out of service for 48 hours after it has been used, to allow for cleaning. Likewise desk booking display panels can be used to indicate that a desk is awaiting cleaning. Then cleaners can touchlessly swipe the desk display to make it available for people to book.

Leave plenty of space between desks

With social distancing becoming the new normal in 2020 – office designers are thinking differently about how to organize space.

Make sure there is an adequate distance between the desks in your workplace and ensure employees stick rigidly to this system. Alternatively, automate desk booking so that your scheduling system can indicate which desks are bookable and which are not. In other words, if someone books a desk, your scheduling tool can automatically take all other desks within a specific radius out of service.

Add desk display panels

By adding desk display panels to your workspace, users will be able to see easily and quickly whether a desk is available or not at any given time, without waiting to find out from the office manager. 

Eliminate no-shows & maximize desk utilization – Smartway2 offers slick and highly functional display panels for both individual desks and meeting rooms.

If your office took a traditional approach to space utilization before the Coronavirus pandemic – with a 1:1 ratio of employees to desks – chances are you are facing a challenging transition to flexible seating arrangements.

For more information on how we can help your organisation make the transition to a seamless hot desking system, get in touch for a free demo today.

If you’d like to explore an automated, data-driven approach to returning to work, check out our webinar – Beyond the New Normal: Redefining the workplace.


Hannah Cresswell

Last updated October 6, 2020