10 problems with Hot Desking


I had a brief stint with hot desking at a particular point in my life, and it basically is an organizational system used in offices that involves several workers making use of a single work station during different periods in time. The system makes use of breakout spaces that usually lead to collaboration between workers and I can tell you right now without mincing words that it was strenuous.

So, what are the 10 problems with hot desking? 

1. It might lead to the loss of privacy and personal space,

2. It might result in disruption of Leadership,

3. It may need new IT strategies,

4. It restricts the access of employees to accommodations especially when it is necessary,

5. This system of office organization also might require an increase in IT resources,

6. No storage space,

7. It might prove uncomfortable,

8. It may result in working inefficiently,

9. The system has less visibility,

10. The perfect seat for who?

There are several problems which reduce worker efficiency and productivity. The major and most persistent problem, however, is the fact that it intrudes into the personal space of these workers and essentially leaves them with little to no privacy at all.

Having known that there is little to no privacy in the hot desking system, you would be apt to think that that is all the problem associated with it. That thinking would be wrong, however, as there are many more problems asides privacy where hot desking is concerned. This article is therefore focused on letting you in on the problems of this particular system of organization.

10 Problems with Hot Desking

1. It might lead to the loss of privacy and personal space

Not to be misconstrued, hot desking has its own pros, just like all things, one of which is the fact that it allows for better productivity through the way it brings people together making them become something of team members. However, this fact also brings about reduction in personal space hence privacy. The activity of the other members of your team might bring them, close to you and into your personal business. Since you will be in constant contact with them, it tends to create a sort of familiarity which can have other workers dipping into your space. Also, since you have to be out of the space at a period of time, you have to pack your things away from the table, which also makes the table general sort of.

2. It might result in disruption of Leadership

It is oftentimes the dream of employees to work their way to a corner office with huge windows and a view of the city below. Hot desking might, however, be the death of this particular dream of several workers. This system of organization does not put into place any measure of identifying leaders and veterans of the profession as it deems it well to treat an experienced employee of the organization the same way it will treat a new employee. This system of organizing the workplace might lead into disputes in the hierarchy of the office as a result of this. This dispute of hierarchy can also lead to resentment among employees especially the ones who feel like they are very close to reaching the goal they have set for themselves.

3. It may need new IT strategies

From an IT perspective, a lot of teams are so based on location, which means that in order to access the work done by the team, the worker has to log onto a particular computer, otherwise, the work might be inaccessible. However, if you are working using the hot desking method, you would probably need to book the desk you prefer before you resume for work the next day. However, in order to do this and at the same time prevent the chaos that might be caused while workers crash in on several locations in the bid to get a desk for another day, a newer and more efficient strategy must be employed, that will be able to provide services that will cater smoothly to the needs of the workers during their login onto available desk. Hot desking might need consistent upgrades in the IT mechanism that allow workers apply for desks at a smooth and convenient pace.

4. It restricts the access of employees to accommodations especially when it is necessary

Before this type of system will be implemented, it is essential that the Human Resources department of the organization review the different requests for accommodation that the workers already made. However, some employees might have specific needs in terms of accommodation that are important and ought to be met as a part of the condition of their employment. However, these needs might not be met by the system of hot desking. This in turn might lead to the creation of certain problems for your business as an employer and the health and safety issue of the people you have working for you., and not just the ones who do not request for accommodation, before time. The inability of this system of office organization might lead to a poor start with the employee and thus might discourage him, thereby giving him the impetus to not perform as well as he is capable of performing.

5. Hot Desking may require additonal IT resources

In order for this system of office organization to work smoothly and efficiently, it will require a desk reservation system. This may be a barrier for an organization with a small IT budget. Operating a  hot desking environment is possible without a desk reservation system will take longer implement and likely have lower adoption. 

6. No storage space for you

A lot of us likes to store our things at work or not pack out things up when we’re done for the day. This is one of the major problems associated with hot desking. It does not offer workers the chance of store their personal effects at a desk. A central locker system will be requird to allow employees to store their essential items every day.  

7. It might prove uncomfortable for you

There are different kinds of workers with different needs. Some employees prefer an assigned desk where they know when they walk into an office each day, it’s theirs.  They can store pictures, leave their coffee mug and are able to decorate a desk and call it theirs. However, when you are working in a hot desk environment, it is not possible because you have to clear all your things from the desk at the end of each day.  Hot desking do not offer your workers the laxity of having their personal effects at the desk, because they might not be there for a long time.

8. It may result in working inefficiently

There are some jobs that require employeesOpens in a new tab. to work collaboratively, however this job description might prove to be a hindrance because, since it provides a situation where a good number of people will be around you, you might not want to put in the effort, you might rather decide to spin around in the chair and talk to your coworkers. Sometimes, they might decide to get up in their bid to talk with their coworkers and walk across floors (in the case of a large office), which might take time, sometimes up to five minutes, which they might have used to work efficiently and closely on a project. This need to talk with their friends and coworkers tend to make the project drag and the whole work process inconsistent, which might beable to be avoided if the system was not hot desking.

9. The system has less visibility

Hot desking is a system employed in order to reduce desk numbers, as it allows several people to make use of the desk at several times, thereby only leading to the a less of desks when compared to the number of workers. However, several companies will need their employees to visit the office regularly. This system is however harder to insist upon with hot desking because you cannot enforce the ‘pay regular visits to the office’ when you do not know where the individuals in your team are at particular periods. But, there is flexibility in the work table of these employees, so it is harder to track them all down at the same time, for sure and know what they are up to, since they have different work schedules.

10. The perfect seat for who?

This is a question that sometimes never get answered. The location of the seat of several persons sometimes determine their efficiencies. However, the fact that you do not get the same seat ecerytime you come in for work is a big problem, because you just do not know where best to sit, and if this is where you think is best for you to sit, you might not be able to sit there the next time, because someone else might have been allocated that seat. Also, it becomes harder to find people who you consider to be teammates in that kind of sitting arrangement because you all are never sitting together, what with the system of organization and arrangement. Finding the best space to sit and also being around the best set of people with whom you find solutions to projects easily together is a luxury, which is sometimes inexistent in the hot desking approach to organizing the office.

The above basically include 10 problems out of the very many plaguing the system of hot desking, there are of course several more but as far as problems go, these might be the major ones the system encounters. It is however important to note that hot desking is not just a sack of problems. It also has its own advantages which in the real sense might even be more than the problems associated with it. These advantages are basically the reasons why this system of organizing offices are still in operation today. Some of these advantages include:

– It disperses the hierarchy present in the office environment

– It ensures that the office is organized and also stays organized

– It encourages and fosters a social culture

– It creates an avenue for open design

– It is also an affordable way to design an office.

Hot desking also has some psychological impacts on the workers, both positive and negative. The process of office organization offers you the opportunity to either increase or decrease the relationship between employees in terms of communication, innovation, productivity and collaboration.


Read Related OSW Article: 

– Psychological Impact of Hot DeskingOpens in a new tab.

– Advantages and Disadvantages of Hot-Desking – Deep Dive!!


Related Questions

Is hot desking worth it?

Sometimes, you wonder if the system of hot desking is really worth it; if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. However, that question is one that has no specific answer. It is one that depends on the person or people you ask. When you ask the management of a particular company, they feel like it is a smart way to foster the existing relationship between offices and also a smart way by which they can save money, and for these reasons, they will not be wrong.

Hosever, if you ask employees, you will probably receive mixed feelings about it i.e. they will be divided on the issue. Some employees might feel like it promotes relations with others while other people might feel like it invades their privacy and is also counterproductive, so there is basically not a clear answer with the employees. However, before you adopt this system of organizing offices, it is wise that you bring it up with your employees and gauge what the majority of them think about it. Based on your findings, you can then adopt it or not.

Does Hot Desking Reduce Cost?

Hot desking is a system of organization that has been proven to reduce costs. In a company setting, the largest thing money is spent on is usually office space. With the hot desking system, you would be saving a huge amount of money that would have been spent on office space. There are often times in an office setting where close to half of the employees of the office will be absent from work due to either fieldwork or vacations. In such a scenario, all the extra space available will go to waste, which is one of the reasons why hot desking seems to be one or the perfect solutions. So, yes, hot desking cut costs.

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