Is Hot Desking Appropriate for Your Business?

Image Credit – Co.Design


Activity-based work environments or ‘hot desking’ is fast becoming a preferred approach to office fit out and work place solutions for many companies. Designed around pocket areas of activity or concentration, staff continuously move around different work environments that best suits their needs throughout the day. The trend is motivated by the working preferences of Millennials, efficiency seeking strategies of large occupiers as well as the collaborative benefits associated with shared work space. However, this environment is not conducive to the needs of all industries or working environments. Here are some considerations:

This article focuses on activity based work environments applied to long-term office solutions. If you want to read more on Serviced Office Solutions or Shared Work Environments, read our latest report by clicking here.

1. How much flexibility do you offer employees?

Hot desking or activity-based work environments are ideal for companies who offer flexibility to employees, supported by paperless systems. Flexible working has been defined as a significant trend of the future workplace by Google in its 2020 Workplace report, with employees demanding greater flexibility from their employers to not only balance work/personal demands, but to be more productive as well. Creatives often prefer to isolate themselves or to frequently change their environment to perform their best work. For this arrangement to be feasible, a company’s systems have to be completely paperless so all work can be performed from any computer anywhere. Industries typically offering flexibility to their employees include marketing & media, IT and professional services firmsall industries where remote working is often an inherent component of the job itself. Flexible working is supported by a ‘plug and play’ scenario in a hot desking environment, where employees simply settle into an open space they prefer and continue working.

2. How much privacy is required?

Auditing, accounting and legal practitioners have high standards on privacy, security and controls which has historically been reflected in all-enclosed office designs. According to our international affiliate JLL, today’s legal firms are shrinking their real estate in response to escalating office rentals and efficiency requirements. Furthermore, the legal sector is slowly starting to adapt to modern workplace trends as it is also discovering that flexibility is a key element of the employee value proposition to a new generation of talent. As such, firms are applying a layer of privacy over the traditional hot desking format in the form of floating workspaces, more collaboration areas, visitor offices and smaller libraries (replaced by online services). In Cape Town, firms separate clients from work environments evident in plush ‘client-level floors’, with staff-only access to other floors where work is performed – fitted out in a much more conservative and efficient manner. Therefore, privacy can be accommodated in various ways.

3. How do you value collaboration?

The need for employees to collaborate has been a key driving factor in the ‘open office revolution’ alongside cost reduction. However, ambient noise, interruptions and lack of privacy associated with all open office environments can quickly manifest into significant workplace inefficiencies and staffing problems. As opposed to a holistic open plan environment, hot desking environments are designed around different collaboration needs. Examples include open desks for collaborative working, informal meeting zones, formal conferencing, socializing and quiet areas for absolute non-disruption. If your employees frequently collaborate, a hot desking solution might be the most productive solution.


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