Hot Desking vs. Desk Hoteling: Pros and Cons of Each

The Robin Team
The Robin Team
Published on 
12.2.2021

Hot desking v. desk hoteling

As businesses find new ways to structure their teams, many are seeking a balance between fully remote work and requiring everyone to be in the office five days a week. Hot desking and desk hoteling are two alternatives that offer in-person office space, while controlling overhead costs. 

Gain insights into the advantages and disadvantages of each model with Robin.

What is Hot Desking?

In a traditional office setup, each employee has an assigned desk or office. Hot desking is an alternative model in which desks are not tied to a specific employee. 

Workers use open desks and meeting rooms as needed on a first-come, first-served basis. If employees come and go from the office, multiple people might use the same workspace in a single day.

Benefits of Hot Desking

Hot desking may sound unusual to companies unfamiliar with this model, but it has its advantages. The benefits of a hot desking system include:

  • Reduced overhead: Paying for a dedicated workspace for every single employee can be expensive. And with hybrid work models, it may not be necessary. There’s no sense in paying for underutilized space. Whether companies are renting a co-working space or have their own office, a hot desking model allows teams to optimize their in-person workspace.
  • Flexibility: Hot desking lets individual employees and teams find open workstations on short notice. This is especially helpful for contractors, remote workers, or employees who may travel between company offices in different cities.
  • Autonomy: Letting employees work where they want and when they want communicates that their managers trust them. Employees are responsible for finding a desk, completing their work, and cleaning up after themselves — freeing up admin staff to focus on other duties.

Hot Desking Challenges

While this model can help companies run lean, it isn’t without its disadvantages. The downsides to hot desking may include:

  • Privacy and security: If your company handles confidential information, hot desking may add a level of concern. With workers coming and going regularly, confidential documents may accidentally get left at a workspace. Companies can minimize security concerns by requiring employees to clean up once they’re finished.
  • Insufficient or unsuitable space: Without advance booking, companies may run into times when office space is over-utilized. If most employees go to the office on the same day, there may not be enough desks to go around, leading to frustration and lost productivity. Similarly, an employee may arrive at the office with a full call sheet and find that there are no quiet or private spaces available for a day of phone calls.
  • Health concerns: High workspace turnover is common in a hot desking model, which can make it more difficult to prevent the spread of illnesses. Companies can stay ahead of this issue by instituting cleaning policies, disinfecting high-touch areas, and providing employees with supplies like hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.
  • Lack of dedicated space: While this doesn’t necessarily inhibit productivity, people are creatures of habit — so employees may miss having a dedicated workspace where they can store their belongings. Leadership teams can accommodate the need for personal space by providing employee storage areas or lockers.

What is Desk Hoteling?

Desk hoteling is similar to hot desking — individual workspaces aren’t tied to a specific employee. However, with this model, employees can book a workspace in advance using reservation software, and reserve it for a full day or more. 

Benefits of Desk Hoteling

This model is a good option for teams who want to use space efficiently, while still being able to plan ahead. The advantages of desk hoteling include:

  • More options for workers: A reservation system gives employees some control over where they work. With this model, employees can reserve a specific workspace for a few days, a week, or even a month. This can help improve productivity — people don’t have to spend time each morning finding a place to work. It can also boost employee satisfaction, as people feel a sense of stability when they know where they’ll be working.
  • Better collaboration: When two people or three people are working together on a project, they can choose to reserve desks next to each other, making it easier to collaborate. Reservation software can also promote better communication, with easy ways for workers to connect and share announcements.
  • Flexible and scalable: A flexible workspace is a priority for many of today’s employees. A desk hoteling model allows employees to reserve in-office space whenever they need it and helps staff members who primarily work from home feel like part of the team. As companies onboard new employees or contractors, they can choose to add more workspaces or reorient the office layout to accommodate this growth.  

Desk Hoteling Challenges

A desk hoteling system does have a few drawbacks. Possible challenges of this model include:

  • Less responsive to urgent needs: A reservation system means that a specific workspace may be booked up all week or month, making it difficult to accommodate work emergencies or unexpected client meetings.
  • Lack of stability for onsite staff: Some employees, such as operations or administrative team members, may need to be onsite the majority of the time. Employees in these types of roles may prefer an assigned workspace to accomplish their tasks.

Find the Perfect Hot Desk Booking Software with Robin

Trying to decide between hot desking and desk hoteling in your hybrid workspace? The team at Robin is here to help. We offer an innovative, user-friendly platform to manage your space and empower employees. To learn more about Robin, schedule a demo today. 

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