November 10th, 2021


How to Get Employees Warmed Up to Hot Desking

Dedicated office space? Or desks you can book on-demand?

Some businesses have replaced individual workspaces with hot desking and other shared seating set-ups to avoid the expense of empty real estate. But is hot desking right for your startup company? What about other flexible seating strategies?

How does hot desking work?

Hot desking is usually a system of shared seating that operates on a first-come, first-served basis. Rather than paying for office space that is underutilized — or going unused completely — hot desking helps get more value out of your corporate real estate.

Can hot desking work for a startup?

Historically, the relationship between startups and hot desking has been a bit rocky.

With the introduction of the open floor plan, companies were able to maximize their office space and keep costs down where possible. That paved the way for flexible workspace design strategies to grow in popularity.

And since the research on hot-desking environments varies — with some seemingly showing the benefits and others highlighting the downfalls — the jury is still out.

Why startups are reconsidering hot desking today

To accommodate new ways of working and reduce costs, many startups are giving hot desking and other flexible seating strategies a second look.

So before you finalize your workplace strategy, ask yourself whether or not hot desking aligns with your company’s business objectives and then verify that it meets the evolving needs of your employees.

To cut down on real estate expenses

Originally, the aim was to help reduce real estate costs and improve space utilization, which in turn helps minimize expenses.

Estimations vary, but according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of startups fail within the first year. By the end of five years, that number goes up to almost 50%.

Running out of cash is the number one reason startup companies fail, according to CB Insights.

The number one reason they fail? Running out of cash, according to CB Insights, a private market intelligence firm that has been analyzing hundreds of post-mortems from failed startup companies since 2018.

When you consider that real estate expenses are the second-biggest overhead expense for companies, it makes sense that startups would use flexible seating strategies to improve space utilization.Afterall, with rising real estate costs, it’s important to get the most out of every square foot.

To create a more collaborative environment

While it emerged as a cost-savings solution, it was also intended as a way to encourage cross-functional collaboration in the office.

Because the idea was that people would work in a new location and be surrounded by a different set of colleagues each day, leaders touted hot-desking as a way to drive collaboration and build connection across the traditional organizational boundaries.

To develop greater employee autonomy

Hot desking also untethered employees from a single location and provided more options for where they could work while in the office. In doing so, not only did they have greater control over the course of their workday, they also had a hand in shaping their own workplace experience.

Where hot desking falls short

Of course, hot desking does have several limitations, such as:

In a first-come, first-served seating system, people run the risk of showing up just to find out all the best desks have already been taken.

Another challenge? Being unable to find an available workspace, not knowing where the space you’ve reserved is located, or having a hard time finding where your colleagues are working for the day.

Before the pandemic, hot desking was being met with a lot of pushback. This time around, the promise of a more flexible work arrangement is changing public opinion, which brings us to the present day.

What startups need to know about flexible seating

Is hot desking right for your startup?

Imagine two start-up companies, each at a pivotal time in their growth. In the first organization, employees find out where they’ll be working for the day when they show up at the office each morning. They arrive, look for an open seat, and book it when they find one.

The other startup has a desk booking system in place that allows their workforce to reserve space ahead of time, which means they plan their time on site in advance without having to worry about not getting the spot they want — or, even worse — no spot at all.

Both startups can be successful at implementing flex seating and saving on office expenses. They just have a different set of pros and cons.

Today, startup companies are looking at flexible work models that let them get the best of both worlds — and that includes implementing hot-desking or another flexible seating arrangement.

Try one of these hot-desking alternatives instead

If you want to make a flexible seating strategy work for your organization, it’s important that you understand all of your available options so you’re able to find the one that’s the best fit for your startup.

Here are a few modern hot-desking alternatives that deliver the same levels of flexibility employees expect while addressing some of the shortcoming of a hot-desking model:

  • Desk hoteling and office hoteling
  • Alternating shifts by day, week, or other schedule
  • Activity-based working arrangements

Allow desk booking software to do the heavy lifting

Between a global supply chain disruption and having to address the ‘great resignation’, companies of all sizes have their work cut out for them these days.

Labor shortages and historically high turnover rates are impacting organizations in a big way. And as studies have repeatedly shown, high-stress environments and increased employee burnout are bad for morale and productivity.

So, how do you avoid wasting your office space after the pandemic without upsetting your workers?

Get employees on board

Do you know how your workers feel about hot desking? What about other shared seating strategies?

As we mentioned earlier, the relationship between shared seating and employee experience has a bit of a rocky history. Ask for feedback, be willing to hear your employees’ concerns, and keep them in the loop every step of the way.

A human-centered approach — one that’s rooted in supporting the needs of your employees and delivering better office experiences — is key to successfully making the switch to flexible seating.

If you want to create an experience that your workers love, then it’s time to start giving them more visibility, better access, and more say-so over their workday.

Finding suitable spaces to support their workday has never been easier than with a mobile desk booking app. The best solutions will allow employees to search for space, check its location and included amenities, and book it on the fly or in advance — all from their own device.

Lightning fast implementation process

So, you’ve decided to switch to hot desking. But how quickly can you deploy your new seating strategy?

Make sure to account for the total time it will take your team to get your flexible seating arrangement rolled out. That includes deploying any software and the time it takes for employees to learn it and get comfortable using it in the office.

The best desk booking software removes complexity, it doesn’t make the switch to hot desking more difficult. Thankfully, modern systems such as Teem’s hot desk booking tool can be deployed in just hours, so you don’t have to wait days or weeks to get started.

Help your workforce get warmed up to hot-desking. Download the free guide.

Teem author thumb


Teem by iOFFICE provides enterprises with space scheduling and management, workplace analytics, building, and campus wayfinding, and visitor management to help cultivate workplaces that fuel productivity, efficiency, and creativity.


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