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Hot Desking: Is this Business Practice Right for Your Company?

If you were born before 1985, your first office job was most likely at a desk in a cubicle. As you progressed through the company, your cubicle got bigger; you gained a bigger desk and perhaps even a window. Once you made it into management, you left the cubicle behind for an office with four actual walls and a door. That was how success was measured—the person with the office had "made it." However, for many companies, that yardstick no longer applies.

What is Hot Desking?

Hot desking is throwing the traditional office concept out of the cubicle's (figurative) window. Instead of everyone having a dedicated workspace, the office is an open environment, and people are free to choose where they do their work. Proponents of this concept believe it leads to greater innovation through collaboration. Its detractors believe the opposite, claiming that the concept can stifle workers.

Is Hot Desking the Right Idea for Your Company?

A company that uses this approach can complete more work in less space, so from a business practice's financial standpoint, it's a good idea. However, the setup might not be for everyone or every industry. How do you know if hot desking is right for your company? Here are some things to consider:

  • Confidentiality issues: If you work in an industry where business practices should not be shared office-wide, then you will either have to find a dedicated area for that portion of your business or install "pink noise," a barely audible low hum that helps drown out surrounding noise and muffles sounds from those working in that area.
  • Employee age: Younger workers typically are more open to the idea of hot desking, because they have lived in the wireless world of smartphones and laptops for much of their lives. Older employees, however, can be more set in their ways office practices and often prefer a permanent place for their plants and coffee mug. The idea of toting office materials through an office while looking for a place to work might be less appealing and could substantially lower their productivity.
  • Collaboration or independence-based environment: If your company depends on collaboration to be competitive and successful, this could be a viable option. However, if your company's workers basically work independently of each other, the shared space could be a distraction.
  • Location: Although hot desking takes up less space, the space itself has to be open and inviting. Many offices that implement hot desking use lounge chairs and contemporary design furniture, requiring enough space to support the office design. Cubicles might well be boring, but they are an efficient use of space—that's why they are fixtures in office environments.
  • Special equipment and wiring: If you are converting your current traditional office space into a hot desking environment, you might have to do some upgrades. Workspaces will need docking stations for laptops, and you will need ample outlets for keeping cell phones and tablets charged. You will also need office equipment such as lockers or secure cubbies, as well as crates or carts, so employees can safely store and transport office supplies.

Hot desking has its supporters and critics, but if you want to create an open environment for your employees, this could be a good office practice for you. If it doesn't work out, you can always take the cubicles out of storage and go back to the traditional office design.

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