What Is Hot Desking? Hot Desking In A Nutshell

Employees who work under the hot desking system do not have assigned seating. Instead of having one desk or space to call their own, these employees use whatever space is available when they arrive at work. The practice is thought to be a derivate of hot racking, which describes the practice of sailors working on different shifts while sharing the same bunk. Hot desking, therefore, describes a workspace system where desks can be used by any employee at any time on an ad hoc basis.

DefinitionHot Desking is a flexible office arrangement in which employees do not have assigned workstations or desks. Instead, they choose from available desks or workspaces on a first-come, first-served basis. It is often used in modern workplaces to maximize space utilization and promote flexibility.
Key ConceptsShared Workspaces: Hot Desking involves shared workspaces, where employees can use any available desk, often equipped with essential office tools. – No Assigned Desks: Employees do not have dedicated or permanent desks, fostering mobility. – Flexibility: Hot Desking promotes a flexible work environment, allowing employees to choose where they work each day.
ImplementationReservation Systems: Some organizations use digital reservation systems to allow employees to book desks in advance. – Clean Desk Policy: Hot Desking is often associated with a clean desk policy, where employees clear their desks at the end of each day to ensure they are ready for the next user.
AdvantagesSpace Efficiency: Hot Desking optimizes office space usage, potentially reducing real estate costs. – Flexibility: Employees can choose their workspace, which may boost creativity and collaboration. – Cost Savings: Reduced office space requirements can lead to cost savings. – Adaptability: It is suitable for organizations with fluctuating staff numbers or remote work arrangements.
ChallengesLack of Personalization: Employees may miss having a personalized workspace. – Logistical Challenges: Managing desk reservations and ensuring available workspaces can be complex. – Communication: Effective communication and coordination are crucial in a hot desking environment. – Equipment Availability: Ensuring that essential equipment is available at each desk can be a challenge.
ImplicationsHot Desking can impact workplace culture and collaboration. It suits organizations that value flexibility and cost efficiency. However, it may not be suitable for all employees or industries, and careful planning is necessary for its successful implementation.

Understanding hot desking

Hot desking emerged in the 1990s and has seen renewed interest due to a shift toward remote work and pandemic-induced demand for more flexible work schedules. The approach is well suited to hybrid workplaces where employees have more freedom to decide where they work. Indeed, if employees are not in the office every day, there is no point in them having a permanently assigned desk. 

Advantages and disadvantages of hot desking

Hot desking has several important advantages and disadvantages for both the business and the employee. Let’s have a detailed look at these below.


  • COVID-19 safety – hot desking allows the business to determine how many workstations it can accommodate based on social distancing guidelines. The practice also encourages the business to maintain an activity report so that cleaners know which desks need to be sanitized between shifts. 
  • Space utilization – permanent workstations are costlier to maintain since they require more space. Employees engaged in remote or hybrid working use less office space that the business can then use for some other purpose.
  • Clutter reduction – with no employee assigned to a specific desk, there is less opportunity for the individual to clutter their desks with personal and other items. This creates a tidier, organized, and more productive space.


  • Employee disruption – for employees who like routine and order, hot desking is likely to be disruptive since they may be forced to work in a different area each day.
  • Loss of productivity – some employees, particularly if they are rostered later than others, also waste valuable work time searching for a suitable place to set up. These employees often find that productive spaces near windows or in a quiet corner of the office are always taken.
  • Lack of communication – since employees never know where their colleagues are seated on any given day, communication can suffer. Newer employees who require assistance on a matter may find it difficult to source help as there is less chance they’ll be seated next to colleagues in the same department. A social media expert, for example, may find themselves seated next to an accountant. The lack of communication and predictable seating also makes it harder to call impromptu meetings or discuss important issues in a timely fashion.

Key takeaways:

  • Hot desking describes a workspace system where desks can be used by any employee at any time on an ad hoc basis.
  • Hot desking emerged in the 1990s and has seen renewed interest due to a shift toward remote work and pandemic-induced demand for more flexible work schedules.
  • Hot desking increases COVID-19 safety for businesses and leads to better space utilization and clutter reduction. However, it can be disruptive for employees who favor routine and can cause a reduction in productivity and communication.

Hot Desking Highlights:

  • Definition and Origin:
    • Hot desking is a workspace system where employees do not have assigned seating.
    • Instead, employees use available desks on an ad hoc basis.
    • The concept evolved from hot racking, a practice among sailors sharing bunks on different shifts.
  • Emergence and Renewed Interest:
    • Hot desking gained prominence in the 1990s and has regained relevance due to remote work trends and flexible schedules.
    • Especially suited for hybrid workplaces where employees have flexibility in choosing their work location.
  • Advantages of Hot Desking:
    • COVID-19 Safety: Allows businesses to follow social distancing guidelines and maintain sanitized workstations.
    • Space Utilization: Reduced need for permanent workstations, optimizing office space usage.
    • Clutter Reduction: Absence of personal items on desks creates a more organized workspace.
  • Disadvantages of Hot Desking:
    • Employee Disruption: Disruptive for those preferring routine and familiarity.
    • Loss of Productivity: Some employees waste time searching for suitable workspaces.
    • Communication Challenges: Unpredictable seating disrupts communication and can hinder impromptu meetings or collaborations.
  • Key Considerations:
    • Balance: Hot desking offers space efficiency but must balance with employee preferences for routine and effective communication.
    • Flexibility: Ideal for hybrid or remote work environments, where employees aren’t always present in the office.
    • COVID-19 Measures: Aids in maintaining safe distancing and sanitization protocols during the pandemic.

Connected Decision-Making Frameworks

Cynefin Framework

The Cynefin Framework gives context to decision making and problem-solving by providing context and guiding an appropriate response. The five domains of the Cynefin Framework comprise obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic domains and disorder if a domain has not been determined at all.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT Analysis is a framework used for evaluating the business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can aid in identifying the problematic areas of your business so that you can maximize your opportunities. It will also alert you to the challenges your organization might face in the future.

Personal SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis is commonly used as a strategic planning tool in business. However, it is also well suited for personal use in addressing a specific goal or problem. A personal SWOT analysis helps individuals identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Pareto Analysis

The Pareto Analysis is a statistical analysis used in business decision making that identifies a certain number of input factors that have the greatest impact on income. It is based on the similarly named Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the effect of something can be attributed to just 20% of the drivers.

Failure Mode And Effects Analysis

A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a structured approach to identifying design failures in a product or process. Developed in the 1950s, the failure mode and effects analysis is one the earliest methodologies of its kind. It enables organizations to anticipate a range of potential failures during the design stage.

Blindspot Analysis

A Blindspot Analysis is a means of unearthing incorrect or outdated assumptions that can harm decision making in an organization. The term “blindspot analysis” was first coined by American economist Michael Porter. Porter argued that in business, outdated ideas or strategies had the potential to stifle modern ideas and prevent them from succeeding. Furthermore, decisions a business thought were made with care caused projects to fail because major factors had not been duly considered.

Comparable Company Analysis

A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

Agile Business Analysis

Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

SOAR Analysis

A SOAR analysis is a technique that helps businesses at a strategic planning level to: Focus on what they are doing right. Determine which skills could be enhanced. Understand the desires and motivations of their stakeholders.

STEEPLE Analysis

The STEEPLE analysis is a variation of the STEEP analysis. Where the step analysis comprises socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political factors as the base of the analysis. The STEEPLE analysis adds other two factors such as Legal and Ethical.

Pestel Analysis

The PESTEL analysis is a framework that can help marketers assess whether macro-economic factors are affecting an organization. This is a critical step that helps organizations identify potential threats and weaknesses that can be used in other frameworks such as SWOT or to gain a broader and better understanding of the overall marketing environment.

DESTEP Analysis

A DESTEP analysis is a framework used by businesses to understand their external environment and the issues which may impact them. The DESTEP analysis is an extension of the popular PEST analysis created by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar. The DESTEP analysis groups external factors into six categories: demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, ecological, and political.

Paired Comparison Analysis

A paired comparison analysis is used to rate or rank options where evaluation criteria are subjective by nature. The analysis is particularly useful when there is a lack of clear priorities or objective data to base decisions on. A paired comparison analysis evaluates a range of options by comparing them against each other.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesPorter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced ScorecardOKRAgile MethodologyValue PropositionVTDF FrameworkBCG MatrixGE McKinsey MatrixKotter’s 8-Step Change Model.

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