What HR Managers Should Consider About Hot Desking

January 7, 2023
Hot Desking Considerations for HR

Hot desking, also known as hotelling, is a flexible working arrangement in which employees do not have a dedicated desk or workspace and instead use any available seat or area within the office. 

This approach allows organizations to make more efficient use of their office space and can lead to cost savings, increased collaboration, and improved flexibility for employees.

However, for human resources (HR) professionals, implementing hot desking can bring with it a number of challenges. Here are several considerations for HR managers to think about when looking to implement hot desking in their organization:

Employee buy-in: 

The single most important consideration when implementing hot desking is ensuring that employees are on board with the change. This means communicating the benefits of hot desking clearly and providing training and support to help employees adapt to the new way of working. Here is a short list of some of the benefits that hot desking brings to employees:

  1. Allowing employees to more easily form cross functional working groups. By giving employees flexibility over where they sit, it is easier to form Scrum/Agile working teams that involve multiple departments (eg. DevOps, Software Engineering, Marketing, Product). Employees can work alongside one another and gain an appreciation for those with diverse skill sets.
  2. Allowing employees to coordinate which days they attend the office. Hot desking rarely occurs in isolation and is almost always incorporated as part of a larger push for an organisation to be a “hybrid workplace” . In such environments it is commonplace for employees to work from home one or more days per week.
    A good hot desk booking system allows employees to self coordinate which days they will attend the office. This lets employees complete focussed work from home, and undertake more collaborative functions like brainstorming when they are in the office.
  3. Creating cleaner workplaces and reducing clutter. When an individual “owns” a desk they are often more lax about the condition in which they leave their desk at the end of the day. This can become a point of contention between coworkers. Because hot desking requires the booking of a desk, this information can be shared with custodial staff to let them know which desks/areas to focus on cleaning at the end of each day. It also encourages employees to reduce/remove any clutter left at the end of the day, as they no longer “own” the space which they have left messy.
  4. Hot Desking can offer significant savings to a business by reducing the need for larger real estate footprints. These benefits don’t need to be realized exclusively by the business, but can be shared with employees.
    Reducing the floor space required for desks opens up spaces for alternative uses. Organisations can put in shared entertainment facilities like ping pong tables, pinball machines, arcade games and any number of other activities designed to foster creative thinking, collaboration, and improved culture.
  5. Simplifying trips to other offices. At many organizations it is commonplace for staff to need to visit regional/international offices. The process of coordinating this with the local team can be onerous and time consuming. Hot Desking levels the playing field and allows organizations to have a single straight-forwards process for booking desks/meeting rooms/car spaces when travelling.

Desk allocation and booking systems: 

To make hot desking work, employees need to be able to easily find and book available desks. Hot desking that relies on a “free for all” when employees arrive at the office is doomed to fail.

HR managers can avoid this through the use of a desk allocation and booking system, which allows employees to see which desks are available and when. Ideally the system will allow employees to check (and reserve) desks before they leave from home. 

Privacy and security: 

Hot desking can raise concerns about privacy and security, especially when it comes to sensitive personal information. HR professionals should work with IT and security teams to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to protect employee privacy and data security. These requirements will be different for every workplace but here are some common considerations:

1. Making sure the system has a different level of data access available to guests, employees, and administrators. Not all functions will need access to all of the data.

2. Making sure that automated off-boarding procedures are in place to ensure employees don’t continue to have access after they have moved on from an organization.

3. Establishing early on what data needs to be included in a hot desk booking system and what data is not necessary for other staff to find. For instance, it can be useful for staff to be able to find someone who speaks a certain language, or one who has the right credentials to be legally able to witness a document. However, it is unlikely that it would be necessary to know an employee's age, date of birth, or home phone number.

Storage and filing: 

Another challenge when implementing hot desking is figuring out how to handle storage and filing for employees who no longer have a dedicated desk. Cloud storage offers an obvious alternative to paper files, but where it is necessary to use physical assets, lockable cabinets can be provided at a departmental level.

At an individual level staff will need access to lockers where they can leave laptops, a change of clothes, non-refrigerated food and other personal items.

Physical ergonomics: 

With hot desking, employees are likely to be sitting at different desks and using different equipment. It's important to ensure that employees have access to ergonomic equipment and that they are trained on how to set up their workstations for optimal comfort and health. It certainly helps with adoption if the majority of the furnishings are relatively standardised. That way employees don’t need to learn to operate multiple types of chairs, standing desks, docking stations etc.

It is also important to carve out spaces for employees who have special physical needs, such as those who require access to wheelchair accessible workspaces and bathrooms.

If your organisation is using a desk allocation system, you should be able to have administrators or heads of department reserve certain spaces for certain people on an as-needed basis.


Hot desking requires a level of flexibility from employees and HR professionals should be prepared to provide flexible working arrangements that support the needs of different employees. This may include offering employees the ability to work remotely or at different hours, depending on the nature of their role.

In smaller organisations it can be easier to allow staff to define the limits of this flexibility for themselves. However in most organisations HR Managers should consider which decisions need to be made at an organization level, versus which decisions should be made by department and team managers, and which need to be left to individual employees.

Implementing hot desking can bring a number of benefits to an organization, but it can also be challenging. By carefully considering these seven key factors, HR professionals can help ensure that the transition to hot desking is a smooth one and that employees are able to adapt and thrive in this new way of working.

If you are interested in implementing hot desking in your workplac, your can read about how OfficeMaps makes hot desking easy for HR Managers here.

Think your team could benefit from a tool that makes hot desk booking efficient and easy to use across all teams? You can start your free trial today.

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