What is Hot Desking? 7 Hot Desk Guidelines to Ensure Your Policy Works

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The modern work environment is a totally different place now compared to 50, or even 20 years ago. From remote working to standing desks, workplaces are changing and adapting as we find new, effective ways to help motivate the workforce. One such change that you may have heard being discussed is the concept of hot desking.  

So, what is a hot desking policy? Our Viking guide will tell you everything you need to know. From the pros and cons to essential hot desking protocols, read on to see how hot desking could work for you.  


Hot Desking Meaning 

Before we dive into the pros and cons, what does hot desking actually mean? The dictionary hot desking definition, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is; 

‘a way of saving office space in which workers do not have their own desk and are only given a desk when they need it’ 

Hot desking is all about sharing and maximising space within the office. This may mean that no one has a set, assigned work desk – you simply choose your desk when you arrive into work in the morning. Or, if you work in shifts, hot desking could also mean you share your desk with a colleague on a revolving basis.  

This may sound complicated, but so is the changing way in which we work. The workplace is evolving; more offices are open plan in order to encourage communication and collaboration, and more people are utilising flexible working or remote working, leaving desks empty throughout the day. As a result, more and more employers are seeing hot desking as a viable, productive solution to space and collaboration issues caused by modern working schedules and habits.  

The Benefits of Hot Desking  

There’s a reason so many modern workplaces are trying out hot desking. There are a huge range of benefits to hot desking policies, such as: 

Hot Desking Maximises Space 

Between colleagues working remotely, holidays and flexible working policies, there is hardly ever a situation when the entire workforce is in the office at the same time. Most workspaces often have empty desks, and hot desking allows employers to combat this by making the most of the space they have.  

Hot Desking Makes Sense Financially  

Hot desking means employers with remote or flexible working policies can maximise a smaller office space, rather than paying for a much larger space which regularly goes unused. Alongside this, fewer desks in the workplace means less equipment, also helping you cut costs.  

Hot Desking Encourages Collaboration 

One of the key benefits of hot desking is the collaboration element. In a traditional workplace, employees tend to sit within teams. Consistently sitting in the same groups can create cliques and discourage open communication and collaboration between the various teams in your company. 

Hot desking solves this. Sitting with and interacting with different people each day makes it easier for the company to work together as a whole. Socialisation outside set teams is encouraged, leading to easier collaboration and an open, friendly office environment.  

Hot Desking Anxiety  

Many employers and employees have anxiety when it comes to implementing a hot desking policy. As with any big changes in the workplace, it is important to think ahead and be aware of any issues that may arise ahead of time, so you can be prepared with solutions. Some hot desking anxieties include: 

  • Finding a place to sit. Arriving into work and not knowing where they’re going to be sitting can feel unsettling for employees at first. 
  • Office storage issues. Hot desking requires a move to communal office storage rather than a personal desk drawer. This means notebooks, mugs and personal possessions will need to be moved each day.  
  • Loss of time/productivityTime can be lost as workers look for a desk and set it up, adjusting chairs or screens or transporting personal belongings. Time can also be lost simply looking for others within the office, as workers may not know where their colleagues are sat that day.  
  • Hot desk protocols not being followed. There are worries that some may abuse the system, for example by ‘claiming’ desks over a number of days using personal belongings. Others may become territorial over a certain, preferred space, leading to hostility if another colleague sits there.  
  • Further cliques forming. One of the key aspects of hot desking is to encourage collaboration between various people and teams. However, there is a risk that allowing people to choose their own desks could have the adverse effect and encourage cliques who always sit together, creating a closedoff company culture.  

Our recent survey found that 55% of office workers regularly feel stressed as a result of work, and a third (33%) already struggle with productivity throughout the day. So, how do you ensure your hot desking policy isn’t contributing to this?    


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Hot Desk Guidelines to Ensure Your Policy Works  

We’ve discussed a lot of the negatives, but these concerns are important to take on board if you want to create a hot desking policy that works for you and your workforce. In order to combat hot desking anxiety and create a productive environment, take note of the following hot desking essentials for your workplace. 

 1. Ensure Your IT Systems are Prepared 

To ensure a hot desking policy that works smoothly for everyone, your equipment and IT systems should be easily accessible to whoever is using them. Your office hardware should be easy to use and consistent – each screen needs to be able to work seamlessly with each laptop, and external equipment such as keyboards should be universal.  

All your internal systems should be conducive to hot desking, with set logins for computers and phones so employees can access their files and phones from any desk.  

2. Allow Easy Personalisation of a Space 

Office chairs, armrests and computer monitors should all be easily adjustable so each individual can adapt their desk to their needs.  

 3. Consider Internal Management Systems 

If you’re trying out hot desking in your workplace, an internal management system can make the world of difference. Desk booking software can allow employees to ‘checkin’ to a space, meaning others can easily identify where colleagues are sitting and quickly scope out free desks when they arrive at work.  

 4. Encourage Teamwork and Socialising 

Hot desking, if done correctly, can be great for socialising. However, you need to ensure everyone is following the hot desking guidelines rather than sitting in closedoff groups, as this is when cliques can form. To encourage true collaboration and socialisation across the workforce, and a more effective hot desking system, you should also offer regular company social events and team outings.  

 5. Offer Simple Office Storage Solutions  

People should still feel able to bring personal belongings into the workplace and to their desk. As no set desks mean no set desk storage, plenty of lockers or other office storage solutions close to working areas is a must.  

 6. Offer Private Spaces 

An open, collaborative office space is great; however, employees should still be able to find privacy for a call, meeting, or simply if they want time away from their desks. Booths and standing desks offer a number of benefits in a hot desking environment, as well as helping to improve overall employee productivity and mood levels.    

 7. Communicate and Highlight the Benefits 

Workers can naturally feel anxious when it comes to big changes in the workplace, and hot desking, in particular, can take some getting used to. Discussion and communication between employers and employees is key here. You should make employees fully aware of why you are introducing hot desking, and all the benefits it can bring to the entire workforce. You should also encourage open conversations with senior staff and HR, where concerns or issues can be raised, and solutions can be foundGetting everyone on the same page is a must, so everyone in the workplace understands both the how and the why of your new system.  


Hot desking has a huge number of advantages for your business. Like any changes in the workplace, you just need to ensure you’re communicating with your workforce and adapting to suit their ever-changing needs. With well thought out hot desking guidelines, your workplace could be reaping the benefits in no time.