With the promise of a return to normal (or something resembling normal), many companies are rethinking their organization of work. Several businesses are considering adopting a hybrid work model, also raising questions about space management. Hot desking and office hoteling are options that date further back than COVID-19, but they now seem to be winning over more and more managers. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these two approaches? What are the pro and cons of hot desking and office hoteling?
What’s the difference between hot desking and office hoteling?
Hot desking is a format where employees who come to the office don’t have pre-assigned places. When they get to the office, they set up at any available work area.
Office hoteling is similar to hot desking in that there is no assigned place for each employee. However, a system is set up to reserve workspaces for fixed periods of time.
The Pros of Hot Desking
In many ways, hot desking has an interesting practical side. Maximizing space means reduced costs for businesses, but managers also point to advantages beyond that. Hot desking undoubtedly offers great flexibility for people working under the hybrid model, or consultants, interns and representatives. Different types of workspaces, such as “living rooms,” cafes or meeting rooms may also attract some employees who like to vary their work environment depending on the tasks they have to perform.
Some argue that the interdisciplinarity which inevitably stems from hot desking promotes the social part of work. By decompartmentalizing departments or specialties, there could be an improvement in communication, collaboration and creativity.
The Cons of Hot Desking
However, hot desking can be less appreciated by employees. Many consider that they waste time looking for a desk, getting set up, adjusting a chair and other work tools. Some employees also complain about not having personal space, which can be a demotivating factor. In addition, a few pointed out the difficulties in locating colleagues when needed, finding help and holding impromptu meetings. At the same time, they underline that the training of new employees becomes more difficult. This is all the more true in the case of medium and large companies.
What’s more, some feel they don’t matter enough in the eyes of the company to be given a permanent desk or workspace. Others see hot desking as hypocrisy on the part of employers who are opposed to remote working.
The Pros of Office Hoteling
Office hoteling has the same advantages as hot desking. However, reserving a workspace does take some of the stress out of repeatedly searching for a place to set up. It can also be easier for people to organize surrounding themselves with colleagues and members of their team.
The Cons of Office Hoteling
The disadvantages of office hoteling are similar to most of the disadvantages of hot desking, but with even more complicated logistics.
While popular, hot desking and office hoteling are not the only options. Some prefer to encourage office sharing between colleagues in given time slots. For example, on Monday and Wednesday, one employee uses the space and on Tuesday and Thursday, another employee does. Also, during the Live Discussions that I host, one of the participants explained that his company had instead opted for the opposite approach, by offering larger offices to employees. The aim was to attract people by giving them space where it is pleasant to work and where the social aspect of work is encouraged among colleagues. The idea is some people may be more inclined to abandon remote working in order to enjoy a pleasant work environment and the various resources available for carrying out their tasks.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all format for every business. Rather, the purpose of this article is to give you food for thought. If you want to share your experiences or learn more from your peers, please join us in the Live Discussions hosted by Josée Parent.