The Simple Guide to Hot Desking Systems

The shift towards hybrid working has left many offices oversized. Companies report needing 30%-40% less space than they did previously 1. But with most employees wanting to spend at least some time in the office every week, the equation isn’t that straightforward.

Enter “hot desking”.

If employees can share desks based on who’s on-site and who’s at home, employers can reduce real estate overheads while still offering office space to all. But for hot desking to work, it needs to be easy for employees to navigate and simple for companies to manage.

That’s where a robust hot desking system comes in.

In this guide, we’ll outline everything you need to know about hot desking systems: from how they work, to features to look out for, and tips for implementing a new system successfully.

A seamless hot desking system is a critical part of an effective hybrid working strategy. You need employees to feel excited about the limited time they spend in the office, and make it easy for them to be productive. Hot desking isn’t just a way to reduce real estate costs, it’s part of a hybrid collaboration strategy that is defining the future of work.

Let’s get started.

What is a hot desking system?

Hot desking is an organisational workplace system. Instead of having an assigned or permanent workstation, employees can use any available desk when they come into the office to work.

Although it’s a relatively straightforward concept, hot desking can be challenging to execute. Companies require systems to ensure that everyone who wants a desk on a given day can have one. To provide the appropriate facilities – and avoid wasting resources – companies need to know how busy they can expect their office spaces to be.

Hot desking systems like Cloudbooking are designed to solve these problems. They work by inviting employees to indicate their intention to work in the office on a particular day and then reserve a desk. This gives companies the information and insight they need to manage the daily logistics of hot desking.

What are the benefits of hot desking solutions?

With hybrid working having redefined the role of the office, hot desking systems offer a wide range of benefits for organisations. These include:

Supporting collaboration and productivity

Among the many advantages of hybrid working is improved collaboration 2 . Many hot desking solutions offer functionality to help colleagues make the most of the time they have together in the office. These include features that allow team members to:

  • arrange to work in the office at the same time as one another
  • find colleagues who are working in the office on the same day
  • book desks next to one another
  • book a desk on a colleague’s behalf

Improving employee engagement

Adopting flexible working arrangements and preparing for the future of work is one of the key drivers of employee engagement in hybrid teams. Putting systems in place to support hybrid working and other flexible practices can help to improve morale and boost employee engagement.

Being able to resources more effectively

Given that the average hybrid worker works only works from the office 2.6 days per week 3 , hot desking systems provide companies with insight that can help them make informed decisions about the use and allocation of resources. With real-time data about how employees are using the office, businesses can approach topics such as space planning and future office design strategically.

Reducing costs

By allowing multiple employees to share desks and workstations, companies can make better use of their office spaces. In some cases, they can even reduce the amount of real estate they require in a particular location. After implementing Cloudbooking’s desk booking system, Experian – the world’s leading global information services company – was able to reduce its real estate in the UK and Ireland by 57%.

The key features of a robust hot desking system

If you’re going to invest in a hot desking system, there are a few things to make sure are included:

Ease of use for employees

Above all, for a hot desking system to be effective, it must be easy to use. Remember, the system will only provide the required data if employees are willing and able to engage with it.

As a result, most modern hot desking systems are digital and available for employees to access from any device with an internet connection. To make the user experience as straightforward as possible, the most sophisticated systems include:

  • Smartphone support. Many employees find mobile apps far quicker and easier to use than desktop software. Hot desking systems delivered through mobile desk booking apps have the added benefit of allowing employees to book a desk and update their plans while they’re on the move.
  • Check-in/out functionality. This allows employees to check in and out of spaces quickly and easily, in real time. Cloudbooking supports this through QR code technology.
  • Integrations with popular digital calendars (e.g. Microsoft 365, Google Workspace). These integrations create automatic calendar events for bookings made through the hot desking system, saving time and eliminating the potential for confusion.
  • Multi-language support. This can be especially helpful for companies with an international workforce.

Ability to enhance the ‘work from office’ experience

Many hot desking systems include additional features that can help to remove friction from hot desking and improve the ‘in-office’ experience for hybrid workers:

  • Colleague search: to allow employees to discover who else is in the office at the same time as them.

Data that provides with real-time insight

Hot desking systems provide helpful workspace occupancy metrics such as:

  • Desk utilisation: how efficiently office space is being used per person
  • Employee density: how much office space there is per person in a given workplace
  • Real-time occupancy: how many employees are in a workplace at any given time
  • Average desk vacancy duration: the amount of time a workspace remains unoccupied between bookings.

Integrations with other tools and system

Many hot desking systems integrate with a range of other tools and systems to provide even more accurate workspace occupancy data. Cloudbooking integrates with a wide range of software and hardware – such as wayfinding applications and office sensors – to offer a comprehensive suite of workplace management tools that interact with one another seamlessly.

How to choose the right hot desking solution

With hot desking a relatively recent initiative in many offices, it can sometimes be tricky to know where to start when it comes to choosing a system to support it.

If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of a particular solution, you might find it helpful to consider the following questions:

Question 1: Will it help us achieve our objectives?

Is a hot desking system being introduced to promote collaboration, improve efficiency, or simply make it easier for employees to come into the office? Whatever the objectives, make sure that the solution you choose includes features and functionality that will support those goals.

Question 2: Will the solution be easy for employees to use?

If a hot desking system is difficult or awkward for employees to use, the company is unlikely to see many benefits from implementing it. Look out for solutions designed to make the user experience as straightforward as possible. This might include systems with functionality like a mobile application, QR code technology, and calendar integrations.

Question 3: Will it give us the information we need?

Consider the data that the organisation requires to achieve its objectives. Does it need better insight into how long each desk is being used for, or how many people are in the office each day? Ensure the tool you implement will provide you with ready access to these metrics. For the most up-to-date data available, look out for systems that offer “real-time” insights.

Question 4: How well would the solution fit into our current ‘tech stack’?

Another factor to consider is whether the tool you have in mind can integrate with the set of digital tools already in use ( i.e. the company’s ‘tech stack’). Does the solution you’re considering have the functionality to integrate with your online calendar system, for example? Does it offer integrations with other software or hardware that might prove useful?

How to implement a hot desking system successfully

Implementation is critical when it comes to the success of any new system or process, and hot desking is no exception. Here are some key factors to take into account when considering how to implement a new hot desking system:

  • Employee engagement

While many employees may be on board with hot desking, some may feel unsure about it – particularly those who enjoyed having an assigned desk. Some may be reluctant to engage, while others may simply see it as an additional admin burden.

Employees’ buy-in to a new hot desking solution is critical. It’s therefore important to seek employees’ input early on in the process. Give them plenty of warning that a desk booking system is in the company’s plans, find out their biggest challenges with the current approach to hot desking, and consider how a digital system might be able to address these pain points.

  • Communication

Once a hot desking system has been selected, let employees know the decision that’s been made and what they can expect to happen next.

It’s a good idea to share the news a few different times in the run-up to the implementation of the tool to ensure everyone has the chance to receive the message and get any questions answered. Be sure to highlight how the solution will address the pain points that team members raised, and remind them that the system will help the organisation honour its commitment to flexible working practices.

  • Onboarding and training

Employees should be able to engage effectively with a new hot desking system straight away. The sooner they can start using the system, the sooner the benefits of the technology can be realised.

With this in mind, consider what team members need to know about the system and how you can share that information with them efficiently and effectively. Is there a training session you could run, a video you could record, or product support articles that you could share? Your software provider might be able to provide you with some support in this area.

Once they’ve started using the system, employees may need ongoing training and support, so be sure to make them aware of how they can access help if they need it. This might involve assigning someone internally to answer questions about the system or pointing employees in the direction of the software provider’s help centre or Knowledge Base.

  • Monitoring and reviewing

After implementing the hot desking system, keep a close eye on both the rate of adoption and the quality of data that the tool is producing. Seek feedback from employees on how easy they find the system to use, and make sure they know about all its helpful features and functionality.

You can read more tips for implementation success in our article on pitfalls to avoid when integrating a new hot desking system.

What kind of outcomes can be achieved with hot desking solutions?

Here at Cloudbooking, our comprehensive and easy-to-use hot desking system has helped a wide range of organisations achieve their hybrid working objectives.

In the months following the outbreak of COVID-19, Rakuten Advertising was able to offer employees a secure return to the workplace by implementing our desk booking solution in its offices in London, Paris, Brighton, and Sydney,

As its digital transformation partner, Cloudbooking has played a pivotal role in helping Experian with its “Future of Work” mandate. By integrating our desk booking, visitor management, and car park management systems into all its UK sites, Experian now offers a unified experience for employees.

JLL Investment Management Company has reported that Cloudbooking’s hot desking system and other workplace management solutions have helped its workforce to “become more of a team again and build stronger bonds” in the wake of the pandemic.

Looking for a hot desking system to support hybrid working?

With 83% of UK companies now offering hybrid working 4, the world of work has changed irrevocably in recent years. When it comes to hybrid work software that can support “the new normal”, a robust hot desking system is a must.

Cloudbooking’s innovative and easy-to-use desk booking system is full of tools and features to help ensure the success of hot desking in your organisation. To see it in action, why not get in touch and book a free demo today?

1 Major cities are now with filled with empty office buildings. What happens next?
2 The Advantages and Challenges of Hybrid Work | Gallup
3 The Future of the Office Has Arrived: It’s Hybrid | Gallup
4 Flexible and hybrid working practices in 2023 | CIPD

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