No matter the size of your business, and regardless of how much experience you have in your industry, efficiency is a fundamental part of success. This often requires innovative thinking, and sometimes the best ways to make improvements come from interesting ideas implemented creatively.

‘Hot-desking’ polarises opinion, and that’s because there are obvious drawbacks as well as real advantages. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, then hot-desking involves keeping desks unassigned, with a number of workers sharing the same workspace at different times.

Start-ups and SMEs are understandably casting a collective, curious eye over the scheme, and here are 5 very good reasons why.

Save on space & business costs

It’s widely believed that as much as 30% can be trimmed from the costs of running a business, solely through hot-desking. It’s a figure that’s had some coverage in the media, and the potential savings come through a mix of factors.

With fewer desks, a business could move its office to a smaller site, ultimately paying out less as a result. Alternatively, a business could simply find cost-effective uses for the extra space, which would otherwise cost money.

There’s also the argument that employees are empowered by the freedom to move to different workstations, whilst sick leave is reduced through working-from-home flexibility. It’s a different way of working, and the appeal can contribute to both staff/talent attraction and retention.

Introduce flexible working

Remote working, or working from home, has become an increasingly attractive option for employers. As previously mentioned, there’s the obvious appeal tied to the comfort of your home surroundings, and a knock-on effect is reduced sickness. This isn’t simply through employees resisting a random day off; if an employee is genuinely ill but can work from home then they are likely to be content with powering through the sniffles.

With an organised structure in place, you can combine hot-desking with flexible working hours. Employees will undoubtedly enjoy the freedom, and any potential complaints about losing an assigned, personalised desk would be offset by the opportunity to work from home.

Improve communication

A by-product of hot-desking is better communication between employees. Without an assigned desk, an employee will find themselves working next to different people. Whilst you can’t expect everyone to get along, and there may be some who prefer not to sit near each other, many will find new co-workers with whom they share a natural rapport.

With more employees finding common ground with one another, you’re looking at a more harmonious, comfortable and productive working environment.

Improve collaboration

The improvement in communication goes hand-in-hand with better collaboration, and that goes for employees in the same, as well as different, departments. Familiarity and rapport both lead to a fluid working process, and if different departments are no longer kept separate, collaboration is bound to benefit.

Think about sales, tech and content all sharing seating and workspaces. It may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it can stimulate creativity and productivity. Some co-workers might share very little in common, but on a working level they could actually thrive together once they’re sat together.

Combat the clutter

Yes, the sweet satisfaction that can only come from a clutter-free office. With employees required to clean and tidy their desk after each working day, you keep the office in excellent shape.

It’s so easy for any size office to disappear into a mound of disorganised papers, stationary, snack packets and soft artillery. Is tidying every day going to be too formal for your office? Unlikely, as having hot desks doesn’t mean you’re putting employees on hoover duty, and it doesn’t need to feel like a regimented process either. It’s a quick and easy process of gathering your things together at the end of the day and going home – no problem.

The disadvantages of hot-desking

There are drawbacks. Employees like their own seat and there’s no getting away from that; some relish the opportunity to have a photo of a loved one, a puppy or a questionable celebrity crush. There’s a homely appeal to a personalised desk, and a sense of territory.

There’s also the health and safety aspect; workstations should be set up for an individual’s needs and requirements, and adjusting screen height or chair position every day is going to waste time.

Add to this the potential hierarchical issues, as well as the possibility that some employees could feel somewhat isolated by hot-desking, and you can see it’s got its faults.

Is hot desking right for your business?

It’s going to be a matter of how your workforce would respond to such a move, as well as how important the cost-cutting element is for your business. It’s a progressive innovation, with some great benefits, but the issues are clear.

However, a lot of those can be addressed by planning and implementing the scheme properly. Ask your employees what they think; highlight the reasons why you’re considering hot-desking, whilst clearly acknowledging their concerns. Communication is essential to a thriving, productive workplace, and it’s no different when you want to make a radical change to the working environment. There’s little doubt that hot-desking is worth considering, but discuss it with your employees to better assess whether it’s actually right for your business.

Jeremy Carr-Smith
Jeremy Carr-Smith is the driving force and inspiration behind a website dedicated to providing a comprehensive range of resources necessary for planning an office move.