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5 Hot Desking Myths, Debunked

May 12 2021

Of all the great workplace trends and strategies to emerge in the last decade, perhaps there is none more controversial than hot desking. Hot desking is a system that involves multiple workers using the same desk at different times, instead of the traditional method of having one assigned desk per employee.

With new ways of working and the flexibility to work from anywhere, hot desking is rapidly growing in popularity. Employers are more sensitive to the usage and effectiveness of their offices. Real estate is one of the biggest expenses for companies and they want to make sure their investment can cater to their employees’ needs for individual work, collaboration and belonging in order to establish the highest possible ROI. 

According to our 2021 Workplace Impact Report, hybrid working and investment in booking systems are on the rise. Managers are implementing systems to enable employees to book a desk, a room or a spot ahead of time so they can prevent reaching max capacity in the space.

Therefore, to help corporations embark in this new journey to transform their workplaces, we’ve decided to debunk the 5 biggest misconceptions about hot desking and provide some encouragement that real-time, live and anonymous occupancy data can help you implement hot desking successfully. 

Myth #1: Employees Want an Assigned Seat 

This myth about employee expectations has prevented many companies from embracing hot desking in the past. However, a recent survey by JLL research on how global workplace expectations are shifting due to COVID shows that 66 percent of employees want to be able to alternate between different places of work in the post-pandemic world. Seventy-two percent want to continue working from home, while 74% want the ability to come into an office.

The truth is in a post-pandemic world, employees are more likely to happily trade in ownership of an assigned desk for the flexibility to choose when to come and where to settle among the plethora of options in the office for different activities. Now it is on companies to move towards a more flexible work culture to align with employees’ desires 

Myth #2: Employees Hate Booking

Many companies are hesitant to adopt hot desking because they believe employees will be outraged over having to reserve a desk in advance. However, we now live in an on-demand world. Most of your employees are used to booking a table at a restaurant, booking their seats at the theatre, or booking a time at the hairdresser. The office does not need to be very different. 

By empowering employees with intuitive tools to book a spot in advance, you grant them a greater sense of ownership in planning their week ahead. They will be able to organize their calendars in a way that makes the most out of working from home or working in the office.

Myth #3: Offices Will be Filled with Lockers

A common misconception is that hot desking will require the office to be filled with lockers because everyone will want to bring their personal belongings into the office. However, in a recent episode of Destination Workplace, guest Christopher Good, Creative Director at One Workplace, said this is untrue: “When people have the choice to work from home, they will not want to replicate their home away from home and will instead come to the office for a very different experience.” Which means, they will leave their homey goods at home.

Myth #4: Everybody Wants to Choose Their Exact Seat 

This one is tricky. For employees who have been to your office before, they might be able to read a floor plan and remember (from a year ago, which was the last time they stepped into your office) what was their favorite corner because of the light, the easy access to amenities or elevators. But, for the vast majority of employees who were hired in the last year or existing employees who are not familiar with the new changes you made, it will be a lot more challenging for them to read a floorplan and decide where exactly they want to sit. They are less likely to have a strong preference for a favorite corner and more open to trying out a random spot. Plus, one of the benefits of hot desking is the opportunity of community, innovation, and creativity from sitting at different places in the office and near different people. So better mix things up. 

Myth #5: You Can Switch to 100% Hot Desking Immediately 

While most of the previous myths are misconceptions that prevent companies from adopting hot desking, myth #5 is a misconception that often leads to failure. The last thing you want to do is create an environment of scarcity or mistrust. For example, if your company has a strong culture of presenteeism or is requiring 100% of the workforce to return to the office, rolling out hot desking at the same time will be difficult. Hot desking works best as part of a larger change management strategy or when there is a culture of flexible working already in place.

Our recommendation: 

All studies have shown that employees are demanding more flexibility. The trick to getting hot desking right is by moving towards an agile workplace model. Employees will have greater control over their schedule; they will plan their work and location around programs and activities offered in the office; they will be able to check who’s planning to come today and make better informed decisions. Giving data, control and freedom of choices is the best new standard that employees should expect when they are invited to come back into the office.

At VergeSense, we are super excited to be a partner in creating a better experience of work for all employees and more powerful workplaces to deliver meaningful experiences. Schedule a demo with a VergeSense representative to learn more about how the VergeSense workplace analytics platform integrates with desk booking systems to create a seamless employee experience and turn your hot desking initiative into a success.

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