In hybrid workplaces, most employees don’t need a dedicated desk. If they’re only coming into the office a few days each week, it makes sense that other employees should be able to book that same desk if it’s available.
This is known as hot desking, and it’s a staple of hybrid work. Hot desking is all about having flexible individual workspaces in an office that employees can book on an as-needed basis. There’s a pool of unassigned desks that are allotted on a reservation basis to anyone who wants to use it.
Hot desking is essentially combining the best of traditional office and co-working space desk usage by providing individual workspaces that can be freed up based on the needs of a fluid hybrid workforce. In this article, we’ll look at how you can tell if hot desking is right for you, how to evaluate a desk booking solution, and how to roll it out successfully.
Determining Your Desk Needs - Is Hot Desking Right for You?
Before implementing a hot desking policy, there are some key questions you should ask to make sure it’s right for you. No technology or policy can facilitate successful hot desking if your workplace simply isn’t cut out for it. Here’s what to consider:
If you’re running a hybrid office space, hot desks make sense as only a fraction of your overall workforce is in the office on any given day. If most employees are in the office full-time or close to it, hot desking may make less sense than just assigning desks. Likewise, if employees need to book a desk for a few consecutive days, but are otherwise remote, desk hoteling would be best.
Employees in certain roles may need specific physical resources. Maybe your developers and engineers need multiple desk screens or monitors. Sales teams may want privacy for important calls. If you have employees with such specific needs, you'll need to equip desks with the necessary equipment, otherwise hot desking may be less effective for them. On the other hand, if most of your employees just need a desk and laptop, hot desking can work well.
Hybrid workplaces often benefit from hot desking because it allows them to save money and space by determining how many desks they actually need on any given day. Since employees don’t all come in at once, office managers don’t need to take a “one-desk-per-employee” approach. Learn more about how hot desking makes hybrid workplaces more efficient.
If you’re noticing that many of your desks are sitting unused most days due to your hybrid policies, implementing hot desking may help you downsize your desk footprint and repurpose the spaces for better uses. If that’s not the case, hot desking may not yield much in the way of cost savings.
Hot desking only works when you have the infrastructure to support this more flexible way of working in the office environment. At a minimum, you’ll need:
- A hot desk setup. What will come standard with a hot desk in your office? Is it just the desk, or will you provide an extra monitor, power strips, standing/adjustable desks, etc.?
- Flexible technology. Fixed desktops and fixed-line telephones won’t work in a fluid workplace that’s adopting a hot desk approach. You should provide laptops and mobile phones so employees can move about easily.
- Hardware support. IT teams will have to be ready to support shared and employee-assigned resources. In a hybrid workplace, that may mean onsite and remote IT support.
- Desk booking software. A desk booking system will help employees reserve desks when they are planning to be in the office. This system should be accessible via a web-based or as a mobile app, show real-time availability of desks and rooms, and be simple to use. When selecting a solution, ensure you are looking for these desk booking features.
What to Look for in a Desk Management System
Let’s look more closely at that last point—the desk booking tool. It’s the backbone of any hot desking workspace. Choosing the solution that’s right for your needs is critical for success. Here are some key desk booking software features you should look for as you evaluate solutions for your office spaces.
- Integrations. Adoption starts with integrations. Look for a desk booking system that integrates with your tools, like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc.
- User-friendly interface. Users should be able to easily check desk availability and book desks from their laptop or phone.
- Conference room management. Desk booking solutions should include room booking software for collaborative work. This allows teams to book a meeting room in advance instead of worrying about availability, other people going over their allotted time, etc.
- Adjustable permissions. Choose a workplace management system that gives you granular control over what desks/rooms employees can book. For example, you could ensure that only managers can book conference rooms.
- Workplace analytics. The best hot desk booking software should include workplace analytics that give you data like desk utilization, attendance, and conference room usage. This data can help you right size your flexible desk space and adjust your spaces to support the types of work your employees actually do.
- Visitor management. Among the key features to be on the lookout for, you want the option to book desks on behalf of office visitors. Admins or employees should be able to view available desks and reserve a desk for incoming clients or guests.
- Mobile app. People are more likely to use a tool when they can access it easily. Leading desk booking software will enable teams to book desks, check in to the office and view their reservations right from their android and iOS devices.
How to Successfully Roll Out Desk Booking for Hot Desks
Choosing the right hot desk booking solution is arguably less than half the battle. Even the best solution will fail to gain adoption without a strong implementation plan. Let’s look at some key steps to a successful hot desk roll out.
Communicate to Your Team
As with any new technology you introduce to your company, having a clear “why” behind it and explaining it will be critical for driving adoption. Everyone should understand the benefits and value of using the tech. A hot desk management system is no exception.
Before you roll out your new desk booking system, begin communicating with your teams to ensure they know what’s coming, what training will be available, and what benefits they can expect to get out of it.
Lead By Example
Communication is only one part of the puzzle. Team leads and senior leadership need to lead from the front when it comes to using the booking system to book hot desks. If employees see their leaders using the system and reaping the benefits, they’ll be more likely to adopt the process than if leadership doesn’t embrace it.
Of course, leadership can’t do it alone. Your implementation will be even more effective if employees also see their peers adopting the system. Look for individual contributors who can become “change champions” on their teams and help their peers adapt to the new system
Get The Tech Right Upfront
No matter what desk booking system or workplace management software you use, you have to configure it to your company’s specific needs before you roll it out. Trying to configure it on the fly will lead to confusion, frustration, and lack of adoption. Here are some things you should have buttoned up before you start:
- Floor plans and desks uploaded. Verify that all bookable desks are available for users. Ensure that non-bookable desks and neighborhoods are blocked from your interactive floor plans.
- Permissions configured. Different employees need different permissions in the system. For example, if only managers can book meeting rooms, be sure that individual contributors don’t have permission to do so.
- Neighborhoods planned. Can hot desks be grouped into neighborhoods so employees on the same teams can get seats next to each other? If teams have specific in-office days, it’s critical to ensure they can actually sit together and other employees can’t take their desks.
- Wayfinding kiosks/signage placed. Wayfinding features help employees easily find their desks and meeting rooms. This includes interactive office maps, digital signage, and other visual aids that reduce the time it takes employees to find their desks.
- Integrations set up. A good desk booking system will be able to integrate with tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack so employees can book desks within the tools they’re already using.
Provide Training and Enablement
While any good desk booking system will make booking hot desks and desk spaces simple and intuitive, providing training and ongoing support — particularly in the early days of your initiative — will be vital to drive adoption and maintain high usage.
Set up an initial training and keep an open door for people who have questions. Track usage closely and reach out to people who aren’t adopting the tool to understand why. While most systems provide analytics, talking to people directly can yield insights that data alone can’t.
Using Workplace Analytics for Ongoing Desk Management
Workplace analytics are insights—generally found in various workplace management and experience platforms — that make it easier to measure and assess your organization on key hybrid work metrics like office attendance, space usage, employee satisfaction, etc.
“Workplace analytics” covers a lot of ground, but there are some specific use cases for desk management that are worth understanding.
- Desk usage. Track which percentage of hot desks are actually being used on a regular basis and by which teams. Forecast future desk needs based on utilization rates.
- Team attendance. Break down hot desk booking data by team to see which teams are in-office collaborating more. Take corrective actions if teams aren’t using the office space or resources enough.
- Space management. See which desks never get booked and determine ways to increase usage or repurpose the space for another use.
- Employee feedback. Get feedback from employees to determine what they need from hot desks. For example, do they want an extra monitor? Standing desk options? Gather feedback and iterate on your approach.
- Neighborhoods. Determine if people on the same team can get hot desks together, or if they find themselves being split up too often. Use the data to build “neighborhoods” for teams.
Use this data, along with more informal feedback-gathering methods, to see how employees are responding to the hot desking initiative.
Hot Desk Management Made Easy
Whether you’re rolling out a hot desking or desk hoteling system, success starts with a modern desk booking experience that makes it simple and easy for employees to get the resources they need for a productive day in the office.
Learn how Robin can give you the tools you need to start improving your workplace today. Book a demo today.