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Hot Desking: Pros and Cons

Hot desking is the newest trend and you may have begun to notice them popping up all throughout your city centres such as Sydney or Melbourne, but the much debated question is whether or not these super-hip office plans actually increase employee productivity. 

What is hot desking?

For those of you not yet in the now and may have accidentally thought that hot desking involved some sort of heated elements being installed in otherwise average office spaces, do not fear. Hot desking, is in fact, the process of combining companies or organisations into one singular office space. Some of the benefits in hot desking is that there is a greater amount of work-collaboration – after all, imagine all the companies employees working in the same space as other companies employees at once? The hive mind of creativity is fruitful. But by the same measure, employees do not have a set work space – they are always moving – and thus there is less personalization of individual work spaces.

Does it increase productivity?

Well, of course, whether or not a workplace has improved productivity depends on how you define productivity – there are numerous reports coming out of basic research into hot desking – all of which have conflicting information. Unfortunately, the largest body of research into hot desking doesn't look that great: ostensibly hot desking actually decreases the average productivity of workers. While sharing a bustling workplace with other creatives produces the opportunity to share idea creation with as many different colleagues as possible, studies show that there is less likelihood that these same people will be able to concentrate. So, hot desking environments have greater work collaboration but that creative process can be inhibited when employees can't bring those ideas to fruition with the concentration that they require. They are also said to increase mental workload, fatigue and stress. ( Another unfortunate consequence of hot desking is the increased average of health risks. One of the biggest downsides is that shared keyboards are five times more likely to have an increased amount of germs – this is provided you aren't always sticking to hot desking etiquette or workplace policy around hot desking. (

So, what's the solution? Hot tips

If hot desking has so many of these negative impacts on workplace productivity, then perhaps there are some tips to work with this shared-workspace idea that produces benefits for both employees and the workplace. Well, some research into hot desking has laid out some simple alternative solutions for you to implement to enjoy the benefits of a shared workspace to avoid these obvious pitfalls:


  1. Setting clear and defined goals for your employee or “activity-based working”

This is a new trend which has started to become popular with large corporations that ultimately requires each work environment to be specifically tailored to the role of each employee and it is said to lower sedentary behaviours and increase performance.


  1. Decreasing regulation around the personalization of desks

Sure we all want to have nice hot desking etiquette in office places however studies demonstrate that workers who are allowed to give each environment their own personal touch, they are far more likely to feel at home in their workspace and thus their productivity is not diminised.


  1. Try not split your employees into separate offices.

In other words, if you are going to have an open-plan, shared-workspace – go the whole hog. Research shows that an employees psychology is negatively impacted by separating teams into different workspaces particularly if that separate space is constantly changing.


The pay-off

While, hot desking cuts costs in the short-terms, driving up revenue is also about looking to the long-term. Most employers understand the long-term benefits of creating a workplace environment that is conducive to working and so invest time and money in the comfortability of their own employees. So, unfortunately, this is why hot-desking doesn't have the pay off that many companies might think they do.

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