For the past decade, businesses have been slowly moving away from traditional office set-ups in favor of flexible, modern workspaces that embraced communication, collaboration, and connectivity. Companies were breaking down barriers and creating flexible work environments as the demand for remote and flexible working grew.
Hot desking is a co-working concept that scraps the idea of individually allocated workstations and encourages employees to work alongside each other on communal desks or spaces.
And hot desking is a concept that many people either love or hate.
There were plenty of benefits to hot desking for both employees and employers, including increased workplace productivity and flexibility. Many fell in love with this way of working, but it wasn’t for everyone. Naturally, some people were skeptical, especially those who became used to having their own workspace.
Today, the working world as we know it has changed dramatically. Employees are now more dispersed than ever before, and this leaves building managers and executives wondering how they will reopen vast amounts of their real estate safely. Millions of meeting rooms and hot desks across the globe now need to be managed to follow ever-evolving government guidelines.
Whether you call them Hot, Fixed, or Flexi, we’re here to help you decide how to manage your desk real estate as we tentatively try to carve out new ways of working and blow off the COVID cobwebs.
Let us explore the latest concepts around hot desking, and how it’s evolving to survive as COVID-19 continues to impact our working lives.
What Exactly Is Hot Desking?
Hot desking challenges the norm of allocated workstations by making all desks available for any employee or contractor to use. Wherever they lay their hat or laptop for that matter, that’s their desk for however long they wish to use it.
In company offices and co-working spaces, hot desking gave employees the freedom to embrace agile working — they could choose where they wanted to work and who they sat beside. Flexible workspaces became a hotbed for creativity and collaboration that might not have necessarily happened in a traditional office space. Employees could work at any desk alongside colleagues from their own or other departments. In companies with multiple offices in different locations, employees could even choose which site they preferred to work on.
What Does the Hot Desk Work Environment Look Like During the COVID-19 Crisis?
A whole lot different, that’s for sure!
The days of breezing into your workplace are now a distant memory. Selecting a hot desk or an area to suit your mood or work task, if your business enabled activity-based working, is a thing of the past. For those employees who need to get back into the workspace, safety is paramount.
As daunting as the prospect may seem, the recalibration of the workplace to meet the demands of COVID-19 needn’t be a headache.
Yes, the pandemic has turned businesses and economies upside down. But, it has also accelerated the digital transformation of the workplace, which was long overdue! We live in a digital world, why not break away from old workplace norms and embrace this golden opportunity to do things better?
Let’s Kickstart Your Return to Work Strategy
Control Hot Desking Availability with Remotely Managed Desk Assignment
As they say, “failing to plan is planning to fail” and the planning starts before your employees even set foot in the office.
Organizations including Fiserv and Research Complex at Harwell have found employees are much happier about returning to work when they feel informed, safe, and comfortable.
But how is this sense of comfort and confidence achieved?
First up, to make social distancing work for your business, reduce your workspace capacity by at least 50%.
Yes, that’s right, half!
You must adapt your existing seating arrangements to encourage safe social distancing and prevent office overcrowding.
With Cloudbooking, businesses can empower flexible working with safe, socially-distanced floor planning, giving employees the ability to pre-book desks in the AM, PM, or for the entire day.
For those not ready to embrace this new form of hot desking quite yet, you can pre-plan workplace seating arrangements for colleagues and shift teams returning to the office, to keep contact within a select group of connected individuals.
Send booking confirmations to colleagues with wayfinding navigation and low-touch desk check-in instructions using QR Codes, ensuring that colleagues can locate their desks with as little human contact as possible.
Employees May Need More Privacy Than A Desk Can Offer
With desk management being such a hot topic, meeting room bookings seem to have fallen by the wayside; however, it’s also essential to include the management of these spaces when planning your return to work strategies.
Some people may need to have sensitive or confidential discussions in person or over the phone, and such topics may not be suitable for a hot desking environment. However, this doesn’t have to be an issue. Meeting rooms or booths can also be easily managed or booked in advance with the meeting room booking systems from Cloudbooking.
Low-Touch Booking Technology and Wayfinding
As for how people check-in or choose a hot desk, there are several ways this can be done. Many organizations are now using advanced desk management solutions such as Cloudbooking’s desk booking system.
This allows employees to simply check-in or out of their desk by scanning a QR code assigned within the Cloudbooking mobile booking app. QR code technology is low touch and cost-effective — this solution is super easy to deploy, requires no cables or additional facilities teams onsite to implement.
Employees can also navigate their way to their desks with Cloudbooking’s mobile wayfinding. No more wandering around the office, trying to find your space, or searching for colleagues! Cloudbooking’s desk management systems and mobile wayfinding make the return to the workplace as seamless as possible.
Keeping Track of Workers Needn’t Be Tricky
Once the right systems are in place to manage employees during the ongoing pandemic, it’s best to monitor their time in the workplace.
By utilizing Cloudbooking’s contact tracing functionality, individuals who have become infected with COVID-19 can be swiftly identified, triggering an alert of where they’ve worked and who was nearby to ensure appropriate steps and sanitization measures can be actioned.
This can be monitored by the low-touch QR code check-in management or workspace assignment for desks and meeting rooms.
There are also several other reasons why employers and office managers need to keep track of people in the office. In the event of a fire, they need to ensure that everyone makes it out of the building safely. They also need to make sure that offices don’t exceed their capacity. And if someone needs to be contacted, knowing whether they’re in the building is essential.
Hot Desks Must Be Cleaned Regularly to Ensure They’re Hygienic
With different people using desks, offices need to have more rigorous cleaning procedures to ensure desks are hygienic for workers, especially in a post-COVID world. Businesses with hot desk work environments will need to consider creating a COVID-19 secure workplace with additional hygiene measures.
But several steps can be quickly taken to ensure hot desks are kept sparkling clean.
Cleaning teams can be deployed when a colleague checks out from their desk space using Cloudbooking’s QR technology. Having hand-sanitizer dispensers and cleaning products such as sprays and wipes around the office can also help keep things hygienic. It gives employees peace of mind that sanitization products are at hand, should they need them.
Make the Most of Workspace Consolidation and Cut Back on Costs
Once you’ve implemented your preferred return to work strategy, businesses can utilize workspace-occupancy-sensor technology and data insights to help identify additional opportunities to reduce the space used and even reduce real-estate costs.
The COVID pandemic kickstarted the world’s biggest remote working experiment, which thrust millions of businesses into adopting remote working as a necessity to survive. When the dust begins to settle, and we take our first steps back into this new world, business leaders who have been exposed to the productivity benefits of flexible working and employee empowerment will surely question:
“Do we actually need all of this space?”
The answer is likely to be no, and the cost savings can be fed back into the business to boost employee wellbeing and business longevity now that many countries including the UK and the USA are officially in recession.
Will Hot Desking Still Have A Future in The Post-COVID Workplace?
Hot desking offers businesses valuable benefits such as increased convenience, productivity, and employee satisfaction. We’d say that hot desking can and will survive the COVID-19 crisis.
But, like everything else, it will have to evolve as we move forward in this new reality.
Cloudbooking can help you embrace a new way of working with our leading desk management system, QR code systems, and occupancy sensor technology. We’re big believers in flexible working, and we’re here to help you map out seating plans, manage office capacity, and make it as easy as possible for employees to return to the workplace, should they need to.
With our desk management services, we’ll help you optimize safety, increase efficiency, and improve both your people and building’s productivity. But don’t take our word for it, contact us for a free demo and see for yourself!