26th Jan 2022
I learned a new term recently — hot desking. It’s a practice that's been around for some time but has become increasingly popular as more companies are introducing it to accommodate employees' flexible work schedules during the pandemic.
Essentially, hot desking makes all available desks fair game. Employees book whatever desk they choose — or can get — for each day they are going into the office. No private office or dedicated cubical…no dedicated anything. Each day you bring in what you need and take it with you when you go…no leaving your coffee cup or a stash of snacks in the drawer.
To me, this seems super-efficient but also highly impersonal. While I understand that companies want to make the most of the space they have for the employees who will be coming into the office on a given day, it feels like they are simultaneously sending a message that they are disposable, that the space is more valuable than the person. No doubt about it, hot desking does save the employer money, but at what expense?
Professionals from varying fields have weighed in and overwhelmingly think hot desking is a bad idea. Despite an open work environment, they site feelings of isolation — from being in a different spot each day with different work neighbors — and, subsequently, lowered morale. Employee productivity is also adversely affected. Rather than getting to the office and jumping into the day’s work, employees are wandering around looking for their “new” desk, wiping it down (particularly important these days), and unloading their stuff. The time it takes to get settled and set up is time wasted. In addition, the unpredictability of what they’re going to get each day — and the added effort needed to secure a preferable space — is creating instability and, frankly, that is the last thing anyone needs.
The desire to go into the office to work is driven by having your own space, building and fostering relationships with your coworkers, and feeling that you are appreciated and seen as adding value. Hot desking is basically coworking in your place of employment. If employees want to work in that manner, employers need to truly embrace hybrid work and let them choose a coworking site closer to home if they are not willing or able to provide them with a dedicated space.
What’s your take on hot desking? Email me at email@example.com. I’m sure some of you have opposing views and would love to hear them to further the conversation.