hot desking vs desk hoteling vs desk desk sharing table for comparison in 2024

Hot Desking: A Complete Guide To Successful Hybrid Work in 2024

Transitioning to hybrid work environments has become a pivotal strategy for companies aiming to enhance flexibility and efficiency. At the core of this modern approach lies hot desking, a practice that redefines traditional workspace management. This strategy is gaining traction among forward-thinking companies seeking to enhance space utilization, reduce costs, and foster a culture of collaboration and flexibility

In this article, we explore the practical and strategic aspects of implementing hot desking in your organisation. We start by understanding the meaning of hot desking and its importance in modern workplaces. Then, we compare it with hoteling and desk sharing to help you choose the best approach and clarify common misconceptions. We also discuss why businesses are adopting hybrid work models with hot desking, share successful examples, and highlight the technology tools that enhance this setup.

Our step-by-step guide covers the implementation process, from assessing needs and engaging stakeholders to partnering with experts and setting objectives. We address challenges such as employee resistance, logistics, and technology integration. Finally, we offer strategies for efficient hot desking management and provide a checklist to ensure success. Whether you’re new to hot desking or looking to improve an existing setup, this article will help you manage a hybrid workplace effectively.

Table of Contents

What is Hot Desking and What is its Role in Flexible Workplaces?

Hot desking is a dynamic workspace management approach where employees do not have permanently assigned desks

Hot desking is a dynamic workspace management approach where employees do not have permanently assigned desks. Instead, they can choose from a pool of available workstations, meeting rooms, or collaborative spaces, on a first-come, first-serve basis and specific booking periods. Hot desking supports the flexibility needed in hybrid workplaces, allowing employees to split time between remote sites and the office. In a hybrid work model, office space must be optimised to accommodate varying attendance patterns. This approach maximises space utilisation, reduces costs associated with underused desks, and nurtures a collaborative environment by encouraging colleague interactions.

“Hybrid work models have become essential in today’s dynamic business environment. As someone who’s witnessed firsthand the transformative power of flexibility, I’ve seen how it not only empowers employees to excel professionally but also enhances their quality of life beyond work.”

– Angela Spence, Global Employee Experience Leader

After defining hot desking and its role in flexible workplaces, let’s explore how it integrates into the modern hybrid workplace model

Understanding Hot Desking for Modern Hybrid Workplaces

Hot desking can take various forms, from fully unassigned to partially assigned seating, where certain areas/desks are reserved for specific teams or departments. The central idea remains the same: to optimise the use of hybrid office space. This grants employees the freedom to select their workspace according to their daily schedules and project demands. However, hot desking also presents its own set of unique advantages and challenges for modern businesses. Deciding whether to implement hot desking typically involves HR, facility managers, and senior leadership. Understanding these elements is crucial for successfully implementing this flexible workspace strategy. Now, let’s consider how it aligns with your overall hybrid work strategy

How Does it Fit Your Hybrid Work Strategy?

Many organisations, especially those experiencing growth or space constraints, find hot desking an attractive solution. Companies facing seat shortages or increasing headcount can benefit from this flexible arrangement. Moreover, businesses moving to new offices often consider hot desking to optimise their new space from the start. For instance, an organisation relocating to a new office might switch to a hot desking layout to make the most of the available space and promote flexibility. On the contrary, other companies may be running out of space but are not ready to expand their physical office.

These solution seekers might look into hot desking as an alternative before deciding to grow their space to save both on cost and space. This can include non-technical/unofficial solutions like staggered shifts or shared workspaces to manage the existing office area more efficiently. For these organisations, hot desking offers a practical way to accommodate more employees without needing additional office space. In fact, companies in Southeast Asia, such as DBS Bank in Singapore and Petronas in Malaysia, are increasingly adopting hot desking to address office space constraints in heavily populated urban areas.

“Integrating hybrid workplace solutions isn’t just about staying connected; it’s about fostering collaboration and innovation regardless of physical location. In my experience, these tools not only streamline operations but also cultivate a strong sense of collaboration and camaraderie among remote and in-office teams.”

Angela Spence, Global Employee Experience Leader

Hot Desking Definition: Comparison with Desk Hoteling and Desk Sharing

Comparison between Hot Desking, Desk Hoteling and Desk Sharing.

If you are exploring hot desking for the first time, or if you are an organisation looking to refine your existing arrangements, understanding these distinctions and benefits is crucial for success. I won’t lie; when I first learned about hot desking, I was quite confused between these terms and even, mistakenly, used them interchangeably! So, I want to help clarify the distinctions for you, if you had any to begin with.

Hot desking, hoteling, and desk sharing are different approaches to flexible workspace management, each with its benefits and suitable contexts. Many organisations find that a mix of these approaches works best, balancing flexibility and predictability.

Hot Desking Meaning and Benefits

  • Hot desking allows employees to choose any available desk when they arrive in the office, on a first-come-first-serve basis. This method is ideal for organisations with a significant number of remote workers or employees who frequently travel or work outside the office. Hot desking brings flexibility and efficient usage of office space to accommodate a varying number of employees in the office each day.
  • However, it can lead to challenges such as the difficulty of finding a desk during peak times and the lack of personalisation or consistency for employees.
  • Many global companies have successfully implemented hot desking by maintaining a low employee-to-seat ratio (we will look at a few successful examples later in this article), so a sufficient number of desks are available for the employees who are in the office. 

Hoteling (or Desk Hoteling): How It Differs from Hot Desking

  • While desk hoteling shares similarities with hot desking, the biggest difference is that hoteling requires employees to make reservations in advance, similar to booking a hotel room (the name makes sense now, right?) Desk hoteling is often used in organisations where predictability is super important, such as those with frequent client visits or specific team collaboration requirements, etc. Employees can ensure they have a workspace when they need it, which is particularly beneficial for important occasions or when specific resources are required. Hoteling can also improve occupancy visibility and planning, helping facilities managers optimise space usage. For example, an employee can check occupancy on the day of arrival using hot desking but book a desk in advance for a crucial meeting, reaping the benefits of both systems. Organisations that require a balance of flexibility and certainty could prefer hoteling.
  • Take Grant Thornton Indonesia for example. The company has adopted a hybrid work policy with a split of 3 days work-from-home (WFH) and 2 days work-from-office (WFO). This flexible arrangement allows staff members (with manager approval of course) to choose their specific WFH and office days.
  • Why did they move from their existing “solution” for hot desking –a manual spreadsheet system– was because it was unreliable and inefficient. Manual entries were prone to errors, and optimising office space for a hybrid environment became increasingly difficult. Hence, these limitations highlighted the need for a more streamlined and user-friendly solution to manage their hybrid work environment.

Desk Sharing: An Alternative to Hot Desking

  • Desk sharing is a middle ground between the two and involves two or more employees sharing a single desk, usually on different days or shifts. Unlike hot desking, these desks are not entirely up for grabs but are shared among a designated team or department. This method is quite helpful for companies with a lot of part-time workers or those operating in shifts (and even for a company with many field employees, such as in marketing).
  • As such, desk sharing can save space and cost, but there is a need for careful coordination to ensure desks can be used efficiently by the employees. It can also help in maintaining a sense of ownership and personalisation of the workspace, which can be lacking in a pure hot desking setup.

Are you still scratching your head, wondering which of these approaches should your organisation pick? Let’s find out!

Wait… Which Option is Right for My Organisation?

Organisations like KOKUYO actively opt for a low employee-to-seat ratio, ensuring that a sufficient number of desks are available for the employees who are in the office. This approach encourages the use of both hot desking and hotelling, balancing flexibility and certainty.

Types of Flexible ArrangementHot DeskingDesk HotelingDesk Sharing
DefinitionEmployees choose any available desk on arrival, first-come-first-serve.Employees reserve desks in advance.
Two or more employees share a single desk on different days or shifts.
Ideal ForOrganisations with many remote workers or employees who travel frequently.Organisations needing predictability and regular scheduling.Companies with part-time workers or those operating in shifts.
BenefitsFlexibility, efficient space usage, accommodates varying numbers of employees daily.Predictability, ensures workspace availability, useful for client visits and team collaborations, better occupancy visibility and planning.Saves space and cost, maintains sense of ownership and personalisation.
ChallengesFinding a desk during peak times, lack of personalisation and consistency.Requires a reservation system, potential issues with overbooking or underutilisation.Requires careful coordination, potential conflicts over desk use.
ExamplesGlobal companies with low employee-to-seat ratios, e.g. Grab Singapore.Grant Thornton Indonesia uses a hybrid work policy with a reservation system.Companies with many field employees, e.g., marketing departments, e.g. Shopee Malaysia.
Table: Comparison of Hot Desking vs Desk Hoteling vs Desk Sharing

For many organisations, the ability to see occupancy is key, which is why a mix of hot desking and hotelling is often preferred. As we move further into 2024, more businesses are transitioning to the hot desking model. Hence, this shift is driven by the need for greater flexibility, cost efficiency, and enhanced collaboration in the modern workplace. So, let’s now look at the specific benefits that hot desking offers to hybrid workplaces.

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Why Businesses Are Transitioning to the Hot Desking Model in 2024

Hot desking is not a mere trend; rather, it presents a strategic solution to a number of widespread workplace problems. As businesses look to get ahead, hot desking offers solutions that fulfil the need for flexibility, cost-efficiency, and collaboration. In this section, let’s explore these benefits to see the primary reasons that a growing number of companies are deciding to implement hot desking.

Reason 1: Maximising Space and Cost Efficiency

Read more on why KOKUYO chose Acall for its desk booking solution.
Read more on why KOKUYO chose Acall for its desk booking solution and how it has led to a successful workplace implementation.

One significant advantage of hot desking is the increased space efficiency it offers. With hot desking, businesses can significantly reduce the need for large, fixed office spaces. This translates into substantial real estate, utility, and maintenance cost savings. In a traditional workplace, you’d normally find a desk to person ratio of 1:1, where each person has their desk.

Hybrid desk booking schemes allow you to reduce the number of desks without any decrease in productivity. This works by real-time allocation of available desk spaces based on employee preference or work hours. For instance, one of our clients, KOKUYO, introduced Acall to its Umeda office for its spot reservation and desk booking solutions while maintaining 60% of the seats for its 350-360 employees.

The hot desk/shared workspace model minimises underutilised office space. Hence, this makes it a cost-effective option for businesses looking to maximise their ROI.

Reason 2: Enhanced Flexibility and Agility to Improve Organisational Scaling

Hot desking enables organisations to swiftly adapt to changing workforce trends. Traditionally, employees are assigned fixed desks which often lead to underutilised spaces during absences. Alternatively, this can sometimes give way to rigid structures that hinder adapting to organisational changes. 

The hot desking model facilitates the easy allocation and reallocation of desk spaces, assigning and reassigning specific booking periods. This allows companies to respond to growth or downsizing without any hiccups! This hot desking solution also ensures desk space isn’t just used, but also optimised for enhanced utilisation of resources. For instance, many of our clients either face the challenge of running out of desks due to expansion plans or face layoffs, halting expansion plans leading to underutilised office workspaces.

Still, how does this help organisations that follow hybrid work models? Hot desking provides an invaluable flexibility in an era where workplace dynamics evolve by the hour. This helps accommodate hybrid and remote work models, by letting employees choose their work environment. In turn, this leads to increased employee satisfaction and efficiency as the model caters to employee preferences. Consequently, employees can seamlessly transition between working from home and the office.

Reason 3: Cultivating Increased Collaboration and Innovation in the Workforce

Hot desking eliminates traditional fixed seating arrangements, encouraging employees to interact with colleagues across different departments. As such, this newfound opportunity to network with peers makes it one of the most transformative benefits of hot desking, promoting collaboration and cross-pollination of innovative ideas and work experiences. So, in line with creating purpose-built workspaces, offices need to empower employees to excel and “earn the commute”. Building spaces dedicated for productive socialisation, or “we” spaces, allows employees to connect and collaborate, creating an inviting and exciting atmosphere for social engagement.

Recognising that the majority of employees would further prefer having a dedicated space indicates the importance of “me” spaces in office layouts to support various workstyles and provide flexibility. Furthermore, incentivising office attendance with amenities, like paid lunches and travel expenses—highly valued by employees—can make it appealing to come into the office.

The spontaneous encounters and diverse work environments fostered by hot desking can lead to increased innovation within any organisation. Employees working in such dynamic environments are exposed to many unique perspectives and challenges. As such, it leads to growth and fosters a culture of continuous improvement.

With the benefits of enhanced collaboration and innovation in mind, let’s explore some of our favorurite examples of how companies have successfully implemented hot desking.

Examples of Successful Hot Desking Implementation That We Love:

Deloitte employees are spoilt for choices when it comes to their choice of desk booking at their beautifully designed office
Deloitte employees are spoilt for choices when it comes to their choice of hot desks at their beautifully designed Quay Quarter Tower office in Sydney. (Source: Financial Review)

Implementing hot desking can be highly effective and fruitful when done right. Here are some examples from organisations that have successfully embraced hot desking:

Deloitte

Deloitte, a global professional services firm, is an exemplary model of successful hot desking. Faced with the need to support a flexible and mobile workforce, Deloitte redesigned its offices to promote collaboration and adaptability. Employees can choose from various workspaces tailored to different tasks, including quiet zones for focused work, collaborative areas for team projects, and comfortable lounges for informal meetings. Advanced technology solutions, such as desk booking systems and seamless communication tools, ensure that employees can easily find and reserve workspaces.

The design also includes ergonomic furniture, wellness spaces, and ample natural light. This has long-term effects, contributing to a healthier and more enjoyable work environment. As a result, Deloitte has seen a marked increase in collaboration, with the flexible workspace fostering spontaneous interactions across teams. Productivity has also risen, as employees can choose workspaces that best suit their tasks. Moreover, employee satisfaction has improved, with staff appreciating the modern, adaptable work environment.

KOKUYO Umeda Office

KOKUYO, a leading office furniture manufacturer in Japan,

KOKUYO, a leading office furniture manufacturer in Japan, implemented hot desking at their Umeda office to address the need for greater flexibility and efficiency. The aim was to create a dynamic work environment that could support various work styles and activities. Employees can choose workstations that best suit their tasks, from quiet zones for concentration to collaborative spaces for team projects. The office layout maximises the use of available space, reducing overhead costs while enhancing the overall work experience. The innovative workspace design encourages creativity and productivity, focusing on comfort and functionality. The results have been impressive: KOKUYO has significantly reduced real estate expenses by optimising space usage. The diverse range of workspaces allows employees to work in settings that suit their needs, improving efficiency and satisfaction. Employee feedback highlights increased satisfaction with the flexible work environment, which supports various work styles and preferences.

Sapporo Real Estate

Sapporo Real Estate, a prominent real estate company in Japan, decided to downsize their office and introduce hot desking as part of their strategy to improve space utilisation and reduce costs. This move aimed to create a more collaborative and flexible work environment. Downsizing the office space helped significantly reduce real estate costs, allowing the company to invest in better technology and amenities. The open and flexible layout promotes spontaneous interactions and teamwork, fostering a more collaborative culture. The improved work environment, with its focus on flexibility and comfort, has led to higher levels of employee satisfaction and engagement. Moreover, the results have been impressive: operational savings from reduced office space have been substantial, employees report more opportunities for collaboration and interaction, and the new workspace setup has led to increased employee engagement and morale, contributing to a more positive work atmosphere.

Building on these success stories, it’s crucial to consider the technological tools that can further enhance the effectiveness of implementing hot desking.

Enhancing Hot Desking with Technology: Hot Desking Tools and Solutions

While hot desking (i.e. the practice of employees sitting anywhere they’d like in a workspace) can technically be practised without any tools, technology plays a crucial role in making hot desking efficient and user-friendly. Let’s explore the key technological solutions that support hot desking, including desk booking systems, real-time data and analytics, and the integration of these solutions with existing systems.

Desk Booking Systems

Desk booking systems are key to managing hot desking successfully. These systems let employees reserve desks in advance or on the day of arrival. They include features like real-time availability, reservation management, and calendar integration. Using a desk booking system makes it easy to find and book a workspace. For example, software solutions like Acall, Robin, and OfficeSpace Software offer intuitive interfaces that allow employees to view and book available desks quickly. This not only saves time but also reduces the uncertainty of finding a workspace upon arrival.

Real-Time Data Analytics

Real-time data and analytics track desk usage and show which areas are most popular. This information helps facilities managers optimise desk allocation and make informed decisions. Real-time data, fetched from sensors, can also highlight trends and identify areas for improvement. Occupancy sensors, for example, provide live data on desk availability, helping employees find open workspaces efficiently. By utilising analytics, organisations can adjust their workspace layouts and policies to better meet the needs of their employees.

Integrating Hot Desking Solutions with Existing Systems

For hot desking to be truly effective, it needs to integrate smoothly with the organisation’s existing systems. This integration ensures that employees can use familiar tools and workflows without disruption:

  • Calendar Systems Integration: Integrating desk booking solutions with existing calendar systems like Outlook or Google Calendar ensures that employees can book desks directly from their calendars. Acall provides this functionality when installing their hybrid work platform.This streamlines the process and improves the user experience. Employees can see their desk bookings alongside their meeting schedules, making it easier to plan their day.
  • Communication and Collaboration Tools Compatibility: Ensure that hot desking solutions are compatible with communication tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. Native integrations allow you to confirm your reservations directly in your day-to-day tools without having to manage a separate platform. This integration facilitates better coordination among team members and supports remote collaboration. For instance, if a team needs to have a spontaneous meeting, they can quickly see which desks are available and book a nearby workspace, enhancing their ability to collaborate effectively. So, it’s very important to integrate.

Desk booking systems, real-time data, and seamless integration with existing tools are essential for a successful hot desking setup. Having discussed the necessary technologies, let’s address the practical challenges that organisations may face when implementing this flexible working model.

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Practical Challenges of Hot Desking Solutions

“It’s crucial to take employees on the journey with the company. Providing ample notice before changes and offering resources to address their questions are essential steps. Communicating the benefits of these changes to both employees and the organisation is beneficial. It’s also important for organisations to listen to and understand employees’ concerns, making reasonable accommodations where possible.”

Angela Spence, Global Employee Experience Leader.

While hot desking is widely practised due to the slew of benefits it introduces, there are some challenges that need to be addressed for its successful implementation in workplaces. Below, we will explore the major challenges of the hot desking model and how you can overcome them:

Overcoming Employee Resistance and Adaptation Issues

The shift from permanent, personal desks to flexible desk allocation can be a hard pill to swallow for some employees. This could be due to habit, social anxiety of selecting their desks, or because moving your possessions around can be discomforting. To mitigate this, clear communication about the purpose and benefits of hot desking by the businesses is essential to support the transition. 

Explaining how the design of the workplace helps with collaboration, such as through the inclusion of open collaboration spaces and phone booths that accommodate multiple people, can help employees understand the thoughtfulness of the change, encouraging acceptance. 

Addressing Logistical and Management Hurdles

Managing a hot desk environment requires effective coordination and internal communication. Ensuring employees can find available desks and meeting rooms without conflicts can be challenging. 

Hence, some organisations have adopted desk booking softwares to get advanced reservations and prevent logistical desk allocation issues.

 Managing Technology and Infrastructure for Hot Desking

  • Hot desking depends heavily on technology not only for streamlining desk booking and utilisation, but also for enhancing workplace productivity and minimising infrastructure costs. Businesses must invest in robust booking systems, secure network infrastructure, and seamless communication tools to facilitate a desirable desking experience. For instance, in our bid to provide a secure infrastructure, Acall has committed to acquiring ISO 27001 (ISMS certification) which ensures that our customers work with the most stringent security standards. This strategic approach benefits clients by providing a secure and flexible work environment.
  • Integrating purpose-built workspaces into the hot desking model is also important. This means opting for a design language that clearly divides different office areas – open spaces for collaboration and cubicles or closed spaces for focused work. Such a layout lets the physical infrastructure facilitate and support the idea of a dynamic desk booking solution for hybrid or remote work models.
  • Implementing RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) or NFC (Near Field Communication) technology to streamline desk check-ins and monitor real-time desk space utilisation. However, there are hot desking solutions that avoid the hassle of implementing additional technology. For example, at Acall, we currently adopt a minimal asset approach, using QR code, automatic Wi-Fi check-ins, and web portal check-ins. 

With a clear understanding of the technology and infrastructure requirements, we’re ready to present a detailed guide on implementing hot desking.

Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing Hot Desking at Your Organisation

Implementing hot desking Is a transformative strategy in your hybrid workplace so it requires careful planning. The section below outlines the detailed steps to assess needs, involve stakeholders, set clear objectives, and effectively manage the transition. It also includes detailed guidance on activity-based working setups, trial periods, and iterative feedback processes, along with a successful case study from Southeast Asia to prove that hot desking is not just a “trend”.

Step 1: Assessing Needs of Hot Desking Solutions

Implementing hot desking in your workplace requires a deep assessment of your organisation’s specific needs and current workspace utilisation. This first step ensures that the transition to hot desking aligns with your organisational goals and addresses the unique requirements of your employees. Not only that, but partnering with experts such as office interior designers or workplace experience consultants can help facilitate this process too.

Understanding Current Workspace Utilisation

Start by analysing the current workspace utilisation. You can do this by gathering data on how your office space is currently used, including the number of employees who work remotely, the frequency of their office visits, and peak occupancy times. This information is vital to understand the potential benefits of hot desking to your organisation and identifying any inefficiencies in your existing workplace environment.

Similarly, consider conducting a space utilisation study over a period of time to get accurate data. This study should track desk occupancy rates, meeting room usage, and the overall flow of people within the office. You can identify areas where hot desking could improve your organisational efficiency and reduce costs by examining current space usage.

Employee Work Patterns and Preferences

Next, examine your employees’ work patterns and preferences. Conduct surveys or focus groups to gather input on how employees use their workspaces, their preferred work environments, and any concerns they might have about transitioning to hot desking. 

Some key questions to ask your employees include: 

  • How often do you work remotely versus in the office?
  • What type of workspace do you prefer for different tasks (e.g., quiet zones, collaborative areas)?
  • What concerns do you have about hot desking?

The answers to these will help you understand your employee preferences and work trends in the staff. This, in turn, will help you in designing a hybrid workspace that supports various work styles and enhances employee satisfaction.

“These questions are by no means exhaustive. Conducting surveys, polls, or focus groups is crucial for organisations to better understand the unique needs and preferences of your employees in transitioning to a hybrid setup. By gathering this feedback, organisations can customise their hybrid model. This might include preferences for remote access to work tools or a need for better communication channels. Listening to your team’s feedback is not just about making adjustments; it’s about driving engagement and retention.”

Angela Spence, Global Employee Experience Leader

Step 2: Engaging Stakeholders in the Transition

Successful implementation of hot desking requires the involvement of key stakeholders from the get-go. That makes sense, right? All important organisational decisions involve clear communication with the stakeholders. These stakeholders may include HR professionals, IT departments, facilities and real estate management, and even senior leadership. Engaging these groups early in the process obtains their support and helps address any logistical or technical challenges that may arise in the implementation of hot desking. 

A crucial step is to form a project team to oversee the implementation of hot desking. The idea here is that the team should include representative members from each stakeholder group and be responsible for planning, communication, and monitoring the transition. 

Step 3: Set Clear Objectives for Desk Booking System Implementation

The next crucial part to implement hot desking successfully is to establish well defined objectives for the hot desking initiatives. This helps scale your expectations and implement hot desking in a way that is aligned with your organisational overall strategy and goals. Common organisational goals that hot desking can support include:

  1. Improving Space Utilisation: Optimising the use of office space to cater to a flexible workforce and reduce real estate costs.
  2. Enhancing Collaboration: Creating an environment that promotes interaction and collaboration among employees from different departments.
  3. Increasing Employee Flexibility: Supporting a hybrid work model where employees can choose where and when they work based on their tasks and personal preferences.
  4. Reducing Overhead Costs: Lowering expenses related to maintaining large office spaces, including energy consumption and office supplies.

Defining Specific Objectives

Once the overarching goals are clear, define specific, measurable objectives for the hot desking implementation. These objectives should reflect the unique needs of your organisation and align with broader workplace strategy goals.

Some examples of what these specific objectives can look like are:

  1. Increase Space Utilisation: Aim to improve the utilisation of office space by 30% within the first year.
  2. Enhance Employee Satisfaction: Achieve a 25% increase in employee satisfaction related to workplace flexibility and environment by the end of the first six months.
  3. Reduce Costs: Decrease overall facilities operational costs by 20% through optimised space usage and reduced office footprint.
  4. Boost Collaboration: Foster a 40% increase in cross-departmental collaboration through the strategic placement of shared workspaces.
  5. Improve Attendance Flexibility: Let 50% of the workforce to adopt flexible work schedules and locations by the second quarter.

These objectives should be tailored to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, ensuring they provide a clear roadmap for the hot desking initiative’s success.

Success Metrics for Successful Hot Desking Implementation

Success metrics are crucial for measuring the effectiveness of the hot desking implementation. Let’s briefly discuss these metrics which provide a benchmark for evaluating progress and identifying areas for improvement:

  1. Workplace Occupancy Rates: Keep a track of the percentage of overall desks occupied daily to ensure maximum space utilisation. Typically, a 70-85% value is ideal for maximum workplace utilisation without overcrowding, however a 60% occupancy rate can also be targeted by companies that want to prioritise flexibility. Hence, this can vary based on your organisational goals. 
  2. Cost Savings: Calculate the reduction in real estate and overhead costs due to the implementation of a hot desking system. Target a reduction in real estate and overhead costs by 20-30% within the first year of implementing hot desking.
  3. Employee Satisfaction Scores: Use surveys or polls to measure employee satisfaction with the new desk arrangement and identify any issues. Strive for an average satisfaction score of 75% or higher on surveys specifically questioning the workspace arrangement.
  4. Productivity Metrics: Monitor productivity levels through metrics such as project completion rates,to ensure that the new workspace setup supports employee efficiency and performance. The goal should either be to maintain or improve productivity by at least 10% post-implementation.

BONUS Success Metrics:

A few bonus metrics to consider for a more detailed analysis of the effectiveness of the hot desking solution:

  • Peak Utilisation Rate: Doubling down on the occupancy rates, you can also measure the highest occupancy rates during critical times of the day or week to understand if the space meets demand during peak hours or not. Aim for a peak utilisation rate of 80-90% during the busiest times to avoid overcrowding but also prevent underutilisation. 
  • Cost Per Seat: Working with additional data for measuring cost efficiency, determine the cost associated with each workstation by dividing total real estate expenses by the number of seats. Aim to reduce the cost per seat by 15-25% compared to traditional office setups. 
  • Tech Support Tickets: Monitor the number of tech support tickets related to workspace issues. Keep the increase in tech support tickets to no more than 10-15% above the baseline level pre-transition. A minimal increase suggests that the transition to hot desking is not causing significant disruptions or issues with IT infrastructure.

These metrics will help you stay on top of measuring the effectiveness of the hot desking system post-implementation.

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Define Communication Objectives:

It’s absolutely vital to maintain clear communication to gain buy-in from all stakeholders. You must ensure that employees, managers, and senior leaders understand the goals of the hot desking initiative and how it benefits the organisation and its workforce. Use multiple channels to communicate these objectives, including meetings, emails, and internal newsletters.

To make sure everyone in the organisation understands the hot desking policy, you should write a clear and easy-to-understand document. 

Transparency about the objectives and the reasons behind the transition to hot desking can help ease concerns and build employee support. The key is to focus on highlighting the benefits of the hot desking that speaks to them: improved flexibility, collaboration, and success of organisation.

Regular Evaluation and Adjustment

It’s important to stay on top of the progress being made due to the hot desking initiative. Evaluate the progress of the hot desking system against the defined success criteria above. So, use this evaluation to identify any areas that need adjustment (analysing data collected by employees surveys) and celebrate any milestones achieved. 

Remember, this will not be a plug-in-and-play thing. Prepare for iterative improvements based on your evaluation results and be adaptive.

Real-World Example: Successful Hot Desking Implementation at Grab

Grab made sure that their Singapore office offers a wide variety of workspaces which can cater to any situation. Whether it’s the need to focus on individual projects, or to hold open discussions, employees can choose what works best for them. (Photo source: Grab)

Consider the example of Grab, a Southeast Asian tech company that implemented hot desking to support its growing workforce. The company set clear objectives to improve space utilisation by 20%, enhance collaboration through more flexible workspaces, and reduce real estate costs by 15%. Success metrics included tracking desk occupancy rates, employee satisfaction scores, and cost savings. As we already discussed, carefully establishing these metrics is crucial! 

Regular evaluations revealed that while desk occupancy rates improved and costs decreased, employee satisfaction initially dropped due to concerns about personal space. Grab addressed this by adding more private workstations and improving the booking system, leading to higher satisfaction scores in subsequent surveys.

Step 4: Partnering with Workplace Experts

After defining your goals and objectives —a crucial step in adopting hot desking—you must consider the design of your workspace. As a facilities, real estate, or HR manager, you might not be an expert in office design, but understanding the importance of creating an environment that attracts and serves employees effectively is essential. The aim is to develop a space that not only draws people in but also supports them in performing their tasks efficiently.

This phase should emphasise activity-based working principles. Integrate areas such as comfortable lounges for informal discussions and scenic, quiet spaces for focused work. Additionally, create designated zones for collaborative projects and private conference calls. These designs often fall under concepts like ‘purpose-built’ or ‘human-centric’ offices. While terminology varies, all these designs strive to boost employee satisfaction and productivity by accommodating various activities and needs.

Transforming your office in this way involves substantial changes in both layout and amenities to facilitate hot desking. This transition is about more than just physical space—it’s about cultivating a culture that values flexibility and cooperation. By collaborating with workplace design experts, you ensure the newly designed office meets the logistical needs of hot desking.

Such efforts set the stage for integrating supportive technologies, like Acall, which will be necessary during the trial periods and gradual rollouts (next section(.

Activity-Based Working Setups

Originally introduced by Dutch consultant Erik Veldhoen in 1994, activity-based working (ABW) offers diverse work settings. Each setting is designed for specific activities and tasks. This model was detailed in his book The Demise of the Office.

ABW is a flexible office design that provides various workspaces suited to different tasks. It abandons fixed workstations. Employees can choose their environment based on their current needs. Options include quiet spaces for focused work, collaborative areas for team projects, and private spots for confidential talks. These settings are flexible and reconfigurable, featuring movable furniture and technology integration. Companies like Google and Deloitte exemplify ABW with their dynamic setups.

The Role of Office Interior Designers

Office interior designers specialise in creating functionally-efficient and aesthetically-pleasing workspaces. They optimise space utilisation, ensuring that it’s not overcrowded and that employees have enough room to work comfortably. But how do they work on this? Typically, it involves a strategic placement of desks, common areas, and private spaces, while also addressing ergonomic needs to contribute to a healthier work environment. Their industry insights can help avoid potential pitfalls and make informed decisions

The Role of Workplace Experience Experts

Companies’ increased appetite to entice employees to return to office has even created a new breed of experts. Wonder why some workplaces feel extra welcoming? Think of the world’s coolest offices with their open floor plans and office perks. That’s the work of “workplace experience experts”.

Workplace experience experts focus on creating a seamless experience for your employees. They understand workplace dynamics and can offer insights to make the transition smooth (more on how to do that in the next point). These experts will help develop personalised strategies considering employee habits, preferences, and workflows. Some of them might help train your employees on using the hot desking system efficiently. The workplace experience can reduce the stress associated with implementing hot desking by managing various project aspects, allowing your team to focus on core responsibilities.

Choosing The Right Industry Partner for Desk Booking System

The interior design industry is a highly competitive one. In Singapore alone, there are over 6,000 firms to choose from, which makes choosing the right partner a daunting task. To complicate things even further, depending on your needs and budget, you may choose from interior designers, contractor-ID or architects. To get the ball rolling, there are platforms like Livspace for Business and Qanvast that help you shortlist a few partners based on your budget and needs.

Step 5: Trial Periods and Slow Rollout

When assessing your organisation’s needs for hot desking, it’s a good idea to consider the following means of refining your hot desk implementation strategy before a full-scale rollout.

Trial Periods

Before fully implementing hot desking, select a part of your office or a specific team to test the system. Is the hot desking model actually possible for your organisational structure? You’ll know for sure at this stage. So, during this trial period, monitor usage patterns, gather employee feedback, and identify logistical issues. 

A trial period lets you spot potential problems early, make necessary changes based on real world feedback, and understand how employees feel about the transition to hot desking.

Slow Rollout and Small Groups

A slow rollout involves gradually implementing hot desking across the organisation, starting with small groups. 

This phased approach helps manage the transition more effectively and leads to a smooth transition rather than abruptly shifting the entire company to a new desking arrangement. In turn, slow rollout in small groups avoids overwhelming employees with sudden changes, gradually increasing acceptance for hot desking with easier management. 

Step 6: Iterative Feedback

As you probably know, no successful strategy is wholly successful on its first try. Regularly collecting and acting on feedback ensures the systems continue to evolve to meet the needs for your organisation and its employees, iteratively.

Engaging in an ongoing feedback loop allows you to make necessary adjustments based on real-world experiences. This proactive approach helps address issues promptly, focusing on continuous improvement. Effective feedback collection involves a few means:

  • Surveys: Conduct regular surveys to gauge employee satisfaction and gather specific insights about their experience with hot desking.
  • Suggestion Boxes: Set up anonymous suggestion boxes where employees can freely share their thoughts and ideas.
  • Focus Groups: Hold focus group sessions to discuss experiences in detail and gather qualitative feedback.

Your responsibility doesn’t end at just collecting data. The next step, acting on feedback, is perhaps even more crucial. Use the insights gathered from the above methods and make informed decisions and the necessary changes to improve the hot desking system continuously. 

Iterative Improvement Cycle

Implementing an iterative improvement cycle ensures that the hot desking system evolves to meet the changing needs of the organisation. This cycle includes:

  1. Feedback Collection: Regularly gather feedback through surveys, focus groups, and suggestion boxes.
  2. Analysis:: Analyse the feedback to identify key areas for improvements.
  3. Implementation: Make the necessary changes based on the feedback received.
  4. Review and Update: Review the impact of changes and communicate the updates to employees.

Next, we will outline six effective strategies for managing hot desking.

6 Strategies for Efficient Hot Desking Management

To address the challenges discussed above and maximise the advantages of hot desking, consider the following strategies:

1. Effective Communication and Clear Policies

  • Communication is the cornerstone of successful hot desking implementation. Beyond explaining the shift to employees, continuously engage them in conversations about their needs and concerns.
  • Craft comprehensive policies that go beyond booking rules. Consider factors like desk etiquette, noise levels, and personalisation options to ensure a comfortable and inclusive environment.
  • Create an accessible channel for employees to seek assistance and provide feedback. Regular town hall meetings, surveys, interviews, and suggestion boxes can foster a culture of open communication.

2. Advanced Booking Systems

  • A robust booking system is the backbone of efficient hot desking. Invest in a user-friendly desk booking platform that integrates seamlessly with other office technologies.
  • Use predictive analytics to forecast demand and allocate desk spaces proactively. This ensures that employees can easily find suitable workspaces without last-minute rushes or logistical issues.
  • Explore features like auto-cancellation in case of no-shows, real-time visibility of office occupancy through dashboards or displays, allowing customisable check-in windows of 1 to 120 minutes and offering insights into the floor plans, further optimising office space usage.

3. Invest in the Right Technology

  • Ensure your company has the necessary technology to facilitate space booking and management. 
  • Evaluate your current equipment, software, and digital tools to ensure they support efficient work in the new environment. Consider aspects like remote cybersecurity, file access, storage, and communication. 
  • Implementing a desk booking system, such as Acall, can help manage desk availability and gather user data to optimise workspace utilisation.

4. Regular Feedback and Continuous Improvement

  • Feedback is invaluable in shaping the hot desking experience. Create a feedback loop that encourages employees to share their experiences.
  • Establish a dedicated team responsible for analysing employee feedback and implementing necessary improvements or changes. Regularly update employees on changes made due to their input to show that their opinions matter and foster a positive culture.
  • For example, effective feedback collection methods include virtual suggestion boxes, floor ambassadors, surveys, and focus groups. Even a physical feedback wall where employees can write on a whiteboard works! You can also gamify the process with quizzes or challenges to make it more engaging for the employees.
hot desing feedback system physical feedback wall with whiteboard

5. High Standards of Hygiene and Cleanliness

  • Given the increased emphasis on cleanliness post-pandemic, ensure that your cleaning protocols are top-notch. Regularly disinfect workstations and common areas to promote a healthy workspace.
  • Integrate technology, such as occupancy sensors, to monitor and manage cleanliness in real-time. When a desk is vacated, the system can signal for cleaning, ensuring a consistently sanitised environment.
  • Educate employees on hygiene best practices, including proper workstation sanitisation and handwashing, to empower them to play an active role in maintaining a clean workplace. Beyond education, place hand sanitiser stations, wipes, and sprays within easy reach at every group of desks. This makes hygiene practices accessible for your employees.

6. Simplifying Operations using Technology

  • Technology is the linchpin to hot desking success. Invest in an advanced workplace management system that enhances desk reservation navigation and facilitates quick issue resolution.
  • Implement IoT solutions like smart desks with sensors that adjust settings based on user preferences. This enhances personalisation and makes hot desking more user-friendly.
  • Explore the AI-driven algorithms that optimise desk allocation. To that end, consider factors like employee preferences, project requirements, and proximity to colleagues to create an ideal workspace ecosystem with maximised productivity. 

After discussing these six strategies, we will conclude with key takeaways to ensure the successful management of hot desking.

Conclusion: Why You Need to Adopt Hot Desk Booking Solutions

Hot desking provides a major change from traditional workspace models, offering flexibility, enhancing office space utilisation, and nurturing a culture of collaboration among peers. However, efficient hot desking solution implementation has a few challenges. From overcoming employee resistance to change in workplace dynamics to managing technology needs, hot desking solutions management requires proper planning and execution to work. To effectively implement a hot desking model, you will need a comprehensive workplace management system like Acall to ensure all the operational processes run smoothly. So, our approach is holistic, considering and balancing various factors like the workforce, technological and infrastructural needs, and the office space. 

WIth Acall, transitioning to a hot desking solution is fairly straightforward and sustainable. The best part? You don’t require any proprietary software or specialised hardware. Our solution is easily accessible using the Acall Mobile hot desking app, the Acall Desktop app or our web-based portal, offering a 100% cloud-based implementation for immediate start-up.

Contact us for more information about how Acall can accelerate your hot desking system, demonstrating how your paint points will be addressed. At Acall, our expertise is rooted in our own experience as a fully hybrid team across 25 cities worldwide since 2010. We understand and address the nuances and challenges of a hot desking or hybrid team. Moreover, we also have a grasp of the local culture and provide APAC-based customer support to readily deliver help in your timezones.

Angela Spence is an accomplished global employee experience leader based in Bangkok, Thailand who is recognised for driving culture transformation and fostering engagement across global Fortune 500 companies. She specialises in identifying emerging experience trends and defining processes and tools to simplify and enhance employee experiences.

Written by: Syed Umar Bukhari.

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