As employers worldwide struggle to redefine the workplace in the wake of a global pandemic, hot desking has become an increasingly popular solution. Although it’s been around for several years, this flexible workspace strategy is especially ideal today as businesses look for opportunities to maximize space utilization while protecting their workforce’s health and safety.
That said, hot desking isn’t without its challenges. And if you don’t address these concerns early, it could be doomed to fail.
To help you navigate these obstacles and ensure a successful transition to a more flexible working environment, make sure you have these hot desking essentials in place when you return to work.
What is hot desking?
Hot desking is a flexible office space strategy where employees sit wherever they choose instead of having an assigned desk. In most cases, hot desking works on a first-come, first-served basis, with early-birds enjoying the most coveted spots.
Initially, hot desking was developed to accommodate workforces that included multiple overlapping shifts and organizations that offered flex hours and partial remote work options. This way, people could walk into the office and claim any available spot no matter what time of day they arrived. Businesses didn’t have to invest in a workspace for every employee — only for the maximum number of people who might use the space on a given day.
With 2020 coming to a close and the pandemic continuing to rage on, many companies are implementing strategies to accommodate their workforce’s health and safety. For example, Twitter is allowing all employees to work remotely part or full time for the foreseeable future, while Google extended its work-from-home policy through the end of July 2021.
While it’s prudent to mitigate the virus’s spread by limiting large indoor gatherings, it’s not always ideal for companies or their employees. Even in the time of COVID-19, teams sometimes work best face-to-face (masked, of course) in certain scenarios when a video call simply won’t cut it. A return to business as we once knew it isn’t likely in the cards now, if ever, but hot desking allows for flexibility for at least some in-person gathering.
What are the obstacles to successful hot desking?
While it offers many benefits, hot desking also includes a few challenges. Here are a few of the most common:
Finding available desks
Some days will inevitably be busier than others, which can make finding open workspaces difficult. It may take several minutes to locate an available desk, which eats into productive work time.
Keeping shared spaces sanitized
Workspaces need to be cleaned between uses, but it can be challenging to identify which ones have been used, and manual logs aren’t always reliable.
Personal belongings — like umbrellas, rain boots, bulky winter coats, backpacks, and gym bags — are not only unsightly, but they can collect and spill over into walkways and common areas.
Luckily, by offering a few hot desking essentials, you can overcome these challenges.
Hot desking essentials every workplace needs
Hot desking can be one of the best ways to manage flexible work in a pandemic and post-pandemic world. Here’s a helpful checklist to streamline your hot desking experience and ensure success.
Hot desking technology
A strong Wi-Fi connection available to every workspace is one of the non-negotiable hot desking essentials. Without a highly dependable Wi-Fi connection, it’s difficult to stay on task and be productive. If your connection to the internet is not always reliable due to bandwidth, scheduling software can make sure you don’t overwhelm your Wi-Fi with too many users at once.
Establishing a thriving hot desking environment is challenging if employees are unable to find a place to work when they come into the office.
In earlier hot desking models, employees selected desks on a first-come-first-serve basis. Late arrivals struggled to find a suitable place to set up shop, and others fought for the more favorable spots.
Hoteling software allows employees to reserve a spot in advance while allowing workplace leaders to limit capacity and maintain appropriate distance between workstations. You can also confirm that cleaning crews have sanitized workspaces before others use them.
A desk booking app
Any desk booking system you use should also allow employees to reserve desks anywhere using their smartphone. Whether they want to set up shop for a full day or a few hours, a desk booking app makes scheduling much more straightforward. And using a mobile device with an interactive map of the office means even employees traveling from another location can easily find an available space and reserve it according to their needs.
Permanent hardware for workstations
Make sure you have monitors and connections that are easy to use and uniform. Consistency makes it much easier for employees to plug in and get started immediately. By creating a user-friendly workstation at each space, you’ll facilitate a more ergonomic environment. You may also need to set up a few specialized hot desks with dual monitors for designers, developers, or others who need them.
Mouse and keyboard
Some organizations provide every employee with their own mouse and keyboard so they don’t have to share. If you decide to equip workspaces with these items instead, be sure to supply disinfecting wipes.
Chargers and dongles
Supply each desk with chargers and dongles. Having these hot desking essentials will make it easier for your employees to set up for the day, and they won’t waste time filling out IT service tickets or hunting down cords.
Powers strips and outlets
Hot desk users need to be able to get up and running right away. Make sure your workspaces have a reliable power supply ready and waiting.
Adjustable sit/stand desks promote a more ergonomic workspace by making it convenient for employees to choose their desk height preference. It’s also a good idea to ensure they are ADA compliant to improve workplace accessibility, too.
Let’s face it — if employees don’t feel comfortable working in your office, they won’t want to spend their time there.
That’s why it’s a good idea to invest in comfy chairs with adjustable arms, height, and lumbar support. Consider choosing materials that can be easily wiped down, like vinyl.
Coat racks and closets
While you may not think of storage space as one of your hot desking essentials, it’s important to give employees a place to keep their personal belongings. Set up a coat rack or dedicated closet space for your hot deskers. Keeping the area around the workspace uncluttered will promote better aesthetics, safety, and hygiene.
Lockers, carts, and cabinets
Hot deskers will likely move between workstations and activity-based office areas. They may also need somewhere to store their laptop while they step out for lunch or a meeting. Providing a dedicated central storage place makes life much easier (and more organized) for your employees.
To reduce the spread of coronavirus, you should equip each hot desk with hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, spray disinfectant, and disposable masks. Providing your employees with a way to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, sanitize their hands, and mask up makes good business sense.
The future of “business as usual”
As we all begin to plan our return to work, it’s important to recognize there will be challenges throughout the transition. Luckily, your employees are resilient and adaptable; given the right tools, they can thrive in their new environment. As the “new normal” continues to evolve, and we all embrace a future of flexibility, giving your employees these hot desking essentials will ensure your organization’s success.
Archibus Workplace & Facility Management Software is an Eptura product (formerly iOffice-SpaceIQ).