Hot Desking Office Trends

Trends shape our business decisions, encouraging us to explore options we otherwise might not have tried so we can stay on top of our industry. Hot desking is not immune to trends either. Whether you’re trying to understand why your boss switched to hot desking or discouraging him/her from doing so, you have to be in the know. What are the latest hot desking office trends?

Here are the current trends in hot desking offices:

• Real estate is getting more expensive

• Remote work is becoming commonplace

• Less shift work is predicted moving forward

• Unassigned seating, but make it protective

• More touchless technology in offices

With COVID-19 still very much a factor in 2020 heading into 2021, the virus has of course influenced the latest wave of office trends. If anything, some pillars of hot desking have become more widely embraced because of the coronavirus, although not all. Keep reading to learn more about the above trends!

5 Hot Desking Office Trends for the Second Half of 2020

Commercial Real Estate Is Getting More Expensive

It’s no secret that the costs of owning commercial real estate have grown more and more by the year. You have to take into account the pre-purchase costs, including property appraisal, legal fees, application fees, environmental screening charges, property inspections, and the costs of working with a commercial real estate attorney.

Then you have to pay for the property month by month and year by year, including the fixed costs like mortgage payments, commercial insurance, and property taxes. Operating costs are a big part of owning a commercial building as well. According to electricity brand ConstellationOpens in a new tab., maintenance is anything but cheap.

To maintain the grounds and roads around your commercial building, you might pay $0.24 per square foot. The parking lot might cost $0.58 per square foot, cleaning fees $1.68 per square foot, utilities $2.14 a square foot, and general building maintenance and repairs $2.15.

The average size of a commercial building is 5,000 square feet. Using that number as the baseline, let’s see how much you’d spend on building maintenance.

• Ground and road maintenance – $1,200
• Parking lot – $2,900
• Cleaning fees – $8,400
• Utilities – $10,700
• Building maintenance and repairs – $10,750

That’s a total of $33,950. Remember, that’s just for maintenance costs, not the fixed costs.

You can see where owning a commercial building can get financially overwhelming fast. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, where businesses are forced to pinch pennies even further, the move from commercial real estate may be even more dramatic.

Remote Work Is the New Normal

To both save on office costs and prioritize the safety of employees, more and more office workers have seen their cushy corner offices become the living room couch. Yet long before the pandemic forced most of America’s workplace into remote workOpens in a new tab., hot desking required it regularly of employees.

If you need a refresher, the hot desking office model strives to keep more people out of the office at any one time. This justifies the office downsizing that usually accompanies hot desking. Those in the office share a desk while those at home will work remotely.

Remote work grants employees great freedom and flexibility, at least to a degree. Yes, they’re still expected to work X number of hours a day (eight or nine is the norm), but how and where they work is up to them. If they get their best work done closed off in a home office, that’s their prerogative. The same is true if they’d rather work on a park bench or in a Starbucks.

Besides the sense of freedom, remote work also has a slew of other benefits. Here’s an overview:

• Smaller carbon footprint: Since an employee’s commute is now from the bed to the couch or home office, there’s no need to drive. The fewer cars on the road, the fewer emissions being released, which helps the earth. Plus, your employees can feel good about reducing their carbon footprints.

• Employee retention: According to a 2011 report from PR NewswireOpens in a new tab., a large chunk of surveyed employees, 42 percent, would rather have more flexibility than a higher paycheck. Although it doesn’t always apply to the hot desking office model, by letting employees work remotely, they might want to stay in the job longer.

• More money saved: Here’s why hot desking appeals to so many business owners who scrimp hard. Besides being able to shrink your office space since you have fewer people in the office at any one time, you can save money with remote work through reduced expenses. You don’t have to run as many computers or keep on as many lights, lowering your bills.  

The one downside with remote work is an employee’s productivity could come into question. Some employees will work to the same standards they did when in the office but others could take this bit of freedom and use it to slack off. By insisting employees use productivity tracking software on their computers, you can ensure everyone does their share of work.

But Shift Work Is Lessening

The other component of hot desking, shift work, is on the decline in 2020. According to a July 2020 report from Business WireOpens in a new tab. through Berkshire Hathaway, in that month, shift work was as low as it had been in April 2020 for a non-holiday period. The decline was only 1.1 percent, but with growth just 1 percent for July, the results sort of cancel themselves out.

From May to June, shift work had increased 2.7 percent and from June to July, 1.9 percent.

There are several reasons shift work has become less common, especially in the wake of COVID-19. The virus first forced many nationwide businesses to shut down for months. Some never recovered, which would eliminate the need for shift work or any work.

Also, although some companies did begin to reopen in early spring, when COVID reemerged in parts of the country over the summer, that could have contributed to more shut-downs which would have affected shift work in much the same way.

Even if an office has stayed in operation all this time, they might have turned to an all-remote business model, which would eliminate the need for shift work.

This data is a small smidge of what’s a much broader picture. Shift work though was already one of the most unpopular parts of hot desking along with sharing a desk. Although it’s unclear what the future of shift work will look like as we continue through the pandemic and hope to someday enter a post-COVID world, we think it’s fair to say that in-person shift working may be permanently or semi-permanently affected.

If you’re using a hot desking office model and you’re thinking of reintroducing shift work, you might want to follow the trends here and wait a while.

Protected Unassigned Seating Is In 

That doesn’t mean your employees can’t return to the office; that’s not what we’re saying at all. You might even wish to continue with unassigned seating, a major benchmark of hot desking.

Global design firm HOK published an article earlier this year with the surprising statistic that assigned desks may be as dirty as a public toilet if not dirtier. However, most employees don’t like unassigned seating, calling it akin to musical chairs. This is a large stressor on employees and one of the contributing factors to their unhappiness around hot desking. All this was before COVID-19 changed the way we do business.

Of course, everyone’s health and safety is top priority today, so you want to ensure that employees sit at least six feet apart from one another. This will eliminate desk-sharing, but that’s another much-hated aspect of hot desking anyway.

More so than just maintaining social distancing, employees will also expect you to add plastic or Plexiglass shields or barriers between desks or coworking spaces and ensuring someone comes to the office each day to thoroughly disinfect the space inside and out. With this dedication to your employee safety and the removal of desk-sharing, you may find that your employees are a little more receptive to your hot desking office model.

Touchless Technology Enters the Office

Another reason desk-sharing cannot go on as it’s been in the age of COVID-19 is that no one wants to touch the same thing someone else just did. More generally, some people don’t want to touch things at all.

Touchless technology is about to become very big in offices across the country, those that use hot desking or not. This hands-free technology includes video conferencing and/or presentations that use wireless systems or beacon technology, touchless check-ins like QR code scanning, bathrooms that dispense soap or a paper towel by detecting the presence of your hands, and VOIP controls.

Related Questions

Should you follow office trends?

You found this trend article very interesting, but you’re not sure if all the advice is right for you. Do you have to follow every last trend in hot desking?

Whether you decide to follow an office trend is your choice. Do keep in mind that trends exist for a reason, in that a lot of people follow them. That’s how a trend becomes a trend. Sit down with key stakeholders in your company to assess whether the most popular hot desking office trends suit your company personally, then proceed from there.

Is hot desking itself a trend?

When you boil it down, isn’t hot desking itself a trend? Indeed, it is. The pillars of the hot desking office model, especially working remotely, have been trendy at one time. Remember though that following hot desking as is with shared desks, unassigned seats, and shift work tends to lead to higher employee turnover and dissatisfaction. It’s also risky in the age of COVID-19.

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