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Is Hot Desking Working for You?

Now that many companies have returned to some semblance of in-person work after more than one year in a remote modality, it is commonly accepted that the future of work will not look the exact same as it did before the pandemic. One of the changes most often seen in workplaces is a shift away from individual offices or assigned work areas. If employees are no longer coming into the office five days a week for eight hours a day, companies are rethinking their physical layout by instituting desk sharing.  The shared desk concept has been trending in popularity as businesses start to emerge from the pandemic and return to reduced or hybrid capacity to the office.  Is your office trying hot desking, or a desk sharing approach?

The key component of shared desk strategy is that it allows for flexibility. In fact, flexibility is one of the top reasons why many companies have already, or are considering, transitioning to hot desking. But, if your company has already made the switch or is planning to do so, the question becomes: are you doing it right, or could your experience be improved?

Read on as we explore whether or not desking is working for you and look at ways that you might be able to improve your hot-desking execution.

A Quick Explainer

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At Smartway2 we have written extensively about the inner workings of hot desking. You can read more here, but for the purposes of this post we will reiterate the basics.

Hot desking is often used as part of a flexible work environment. At its core, hot desking transitions away from the traditional model of each employee having an assigned desk or office. Instead, hot desking entails multiple individuals sharing a desk sharing within an office, usually in an effort to better maximize resources. 

In a post-pandemic world of work, hot desking makes sense for a lot of offices where employees will not be returning to the office on a daily basis. Hot desking can allow businesses to cut down on real-estate costs and make better use of the space that they do have available.


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In order to understand how to best implement hot desking, we will first take a look at some of the common pitfalls that you definitely must avoid.

Jeff Pochepan, President and CEO of the Strong Project – a modern office furniture company – writing for Inc., lists the following difficulties that can arise when it comes to hot desking: 

  • Employees feel uncomfortable looking for space
  • It can take longer to get settled
  • Hygiene is a huge factor
  • Employees may form their own rules around “stuff”
  • Ability to personalize

According to  journalist Zoe Thomas in a piece written for Posturite, an office furniture and equipment company, “You’ll know you’re doing hot-desking wrong if:

  • Disgruntled employees feel turfed out and undervalued.
  • Germs spread as people share dirty equipment.
  • MSDs (Musculoskeletal disorders) result from poorly set up workstations.
  • Business reports show lower productivity as people lose motivation.
  • Morale drops because of the uncomfortable environment.
  • People start to leave.”

Desk Booking

One of the biggest complaints about hot desking usually revolves around scheduling, especially when an employee shows up to the office and is unable to find somewhere to work because all the desks are occupied. Those issues can be easily resolved by using Smartway2’s desk booking software.

Smartway2’s software uses an automated, data-driven approach that can increase space utilization and improve productivity. 

Our software allows employees to either search for desks when you arrive at the office, or book a desk or space in advance. 

Smartway2 also has technology to help keep hotdesking safe amid concerns over COVID-19, the flu and overall hygiene. Our scheduling can help to:

  • Ensure people can only book desks that are at a safe distance from one-another
  • Reduce the maximum capacity of shared spaces
  • Keep track of contract tracing
  • Add in extra time for cleaning and sanitation

Other Ways to Improve Hot Desking

In addition to desk booking, there are a few other important details to consider implementing that will ensure the hot desking experience is is smooth for your office.

The following 3 tips we are sharing today are based on extensive research we’ve done on this subject:

  1. Organization- Make sure that both shared desk spaces remain clean and organized and that employees have dedicated space to temporarily store/keep belongings.
  2. Information is key- Keeping employees informed of how your hot desking policy works and what they need to do on a daily/weekly basis is very important. This means everything from policies on how far in advance you would like them to book a desk to how many days in a row your company allows an employee to use a certain space. 
  3. Sanitation and hygiene- Considering the importance placed on sanitation and hygiene in a post-pandemic world, this is the top priority for employers and employees alike. Before workers and management return to an office, they want to know their shared workspace is as germ free as possible. Not only should shared spaces be clean, but employees should also be kept in the loop of these procedures to help them feel more safe in their new work environment.

To learn how to deliver a positive workplace experience amidst the pandemic, check out our recent webinars.

Our team is here to help you automate COVID-safety in your office, from social distancing to contract tracing. To see how it works book a demo.


Hannah Cresswell

Last updated November 1, 2021