Is Hot-Desking Popular?
Are you familiar with the term hot-desking? It’s not a new concept, but it has become more popular with companies as they look to achieve the right balance of hybrid work options. But is it working for employees?
Before the pandemic, hot-desking was used primarily for employees only in the office a few days a month, people like consultants who worked at client sites, or salespeople who were primarily in the field.
Simply defined, hot-desking is a workplace arrangement where employees don’t have a defined workspace. The spaces (open environment, cubicles, huddle rooms, etc.) can be used by anyone, often on a first-come, first-served basis. The idea is to create a flexible work environment for those employees who aren’t in the office daily.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to hot-desking, and companies need to spend time determining the physical layout and options integrated with their workplace culture. The goal is to provide flexibility and make employees’ productivity easy.
In a recent CNN article, Sanjay Rishi, Americas CEO of Work Dynamics for Jones Lang Lasalle, recommended, “individual teams should be assigned to their own area within an open plan office. And within that area, there should be a mix of what he calls “me spaces” and “we spaces” to allow for both individual work and collaborative work between team members. That not only allows teammates to easily interact, but also informs others in the company where they can be found.”
Some companies allow employees to reserve spaces before coming into the office. This can be helpful for people who are working closely together on a project. However, reserving spaces can have a downside. More tenured employees may have a favorite spot, and junior employees, who do not want to upset the social hierarchy, book other spaces but resent the fact that some spaces are off-limits.
According to Korn Ferry’s research looking at more than two dozen studies, employees do not embrace hot-desking. “Why would workers want to come into the office for setups that are less comfortable than those at home? “Office arrangements are simply not competitive with what’s available to employees at home,” says employee-engagement expert Mark Royal, senior client partner for Korn Ferry.”
The feedback is surprising to many executives. Companies are pushing for a return to the office as they sit on unoccupied office space. According to the article, roughly half of office space in large US cities is unused. As leases come up for renewal, companies may decide to downsize and implement new workplace setups. However, employees have said that hot-desking requires them to sometimes sit near colleagues they would prefer not to interact with.
Hot-desking is not the driver of employee discontent about new workspace options, but it is shedding light on the issue. According to Maria Amato, a talent-management expert at Korn Ferry, “Workers do a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to whether or not to work remotely, and at the office they may find that colleagues are often not present, or that they’re hot-desking and difficult to locate; add in time and the costs of commuting, food, and caregiving, and “obvious benefits of being there are lacking.””
While employees may see less value in coming in, offices offer better opportunities for collaboration and socialization and fewer distractions. Providing them with predictability and more certainty may reduce some concerns about coming into the office. This includes space and the setup, including lighting, chairs, monitors, etc.
If you’re offering hot-desking, check in with employees and get their feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. And if you have questions about creating a solid employee-centric culture, send us a note, and one of our retained search consultants will reply accordingly.