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What is hot desking and how is it related to the hybrid work model?
Hot desking is a flexible office model in which employees use shared desks instead of having permanent ones. Such desks are digitally reserved using versatile seating allocation software. Hot desking increases freedom of choice at the office and constitutes a useful addition to the vibrant hybrid workspace. Let us take a look at the meaning of the hot desk working space within the hybrid office and review some of its prominent features.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there used to be one default model of work: full-time presence at the office. It did not equally suit every organization and was often criticized for its rigidity, yet it remained a perceived standard. Nonetheless, some companies had tried organizing work in more flexible forms, notably implementing remote work and workstation sharing models. Surveys confirmed that significant numbers of people appreciated flexible work models and were eager to try them, expressing a growing desire for more autonomy at work. Positions that allowed flexible schedules became desirable, but flexible work models still were not widespread.
Most employers and employees tried working remotely for the first time only following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the peak of the pandemic, people all over the world became expectedly concerned for their health and overall well-being. Another factor was the unprecedented and intense loneliness that countless remote employees had experienced during lockdowns – even though they had internet access and could communicate with friends and coworkers. When social events were scarce, people realized the importance of their workplace as a professional community. Thus, the pandemic caused a gradual but profound reevaluation of people’s beliefs and priorities.
A Changing Reality Changes the Perceived Normal
A much-discussed topic at the time was the awaited “return to normal”. It was often implied that after the pandemic subsides, everything should run as before, including a full-time return to the offices. However, the pandemic catalyzed existing processes – in particular, the increasing dissatisfaction with the traditional workplace model. Many learned that some of their tasks can be accomplished from the comfort of their home. On the other hand, numerous remote employees suffered from prolonged social isolation. They were missing the direct, face-to-face interactions with colleagues. Some felt this disconnection was harming their productivity, as immediate colleague support became a part of the formal communication. Additionally, full-time work from home proved to be more demanding than expected. The resulting sentiment was a sign of the future: employees still wanted greater autonomy at work, but not at the expense of their social and professional connections.
When the epidemiological situation gradually improved, and people felt safer at social gatherings, many employees did not want to work exclusively at the office anymore. In fact, the demand for flexible work arrangements is considered to be one of the major causes of the Great Resignation of 2021, in which millions of employees left their positions. Other motivations for such a radical move included a desire to improve employment conditions and an ambition to find professional development opportunities. A new norm started developing, in which full-time work at the office is no longer the only standard.
Flexible and Hybrid Work Models: An Overview
Flexible work models are a general term for any arrangement in which employees are empowered to define their schedule and workspace. Hybrid work models specifically refer to flexible models combining work on-site and remote work. This can take several forms, such as a split work week with defined regular days at the office or a work week with no fixed “office days”. The success of any hybrid workspace depends on seamless collaboration between on-site and remote employees. This requires the use of powerful organizing software, such as POC Systems’ own dedicated seating allocation solution.
An organic development of the flexible work model is the concept of hot desking or desk hoteling, which means turning some or all of the traditional permanent desks into bookable shared workstations. This serves the general goal of the model – giving employees more choice regarding their work conditions. Available desks are routinely booked in advance using hot desk booking software. To reserve themselves a desk, employees select the time interval, the date, and the specific location – similar to hotel booking.
Benefits of implementing a hoteling office model include:
· A harmonious work experience – the software-managed hybrid office is a well-orchestrated workspace that is both efficient and welcoming. Using the smart seating allocation platform and its accompanying app, planning the weekly or monthly schedule is a breeze.
· Predictability – Employees’ calendars are updated automatically when they book workstations, creating a predictable environment and instilling peace of mind.
· Seating flexibility – the hybrid work model emphasizes the significance of in-person interactions. The hoteling office system lets any group of employees book desks together, enabling and encouraging face-to-face teamwork.
· Employee comfort – employees are trusted to choose their preferred work environment at the office.
· Reduced maintenance and rental costs – the hybrid workplace rarely needs to accommodate the entire workforce simultaneously, as remote work is organically blended into the hybrid workweek. Therefore, compared to traditional office layouts fewer permanent workstations and a smaller area are required.
Sophisticated Space Planning
Importantly, advanced hot desking software enables sophisticated sharing patterns to be specified through an intuitive interface. Executives can use the seating allocation solution to digitally edit the seating layout and control the allocation of whole areas. This allows for precise adjustment of work environments to the resolution of the schedules of single desks.
For instance, two employees with complementary days at the office can share a single desk. It can be programmed to remain reserved for them according to their schedules. Another option for employees is temporarily turning their assigned workstations into bookable hot desks for times they know they would not be using them. Furthermore, administrators can use the seating allocation software to track occupancy data and usage patterns, as well as to simulate possible seating arrangements.
In conclusion, the hybrid work model was devised to address the interests of employees and employers alike, and people increasingly recognize its advantages. Hot desking is a natural extension of the hybrid concept, as it provides additional autonomy, among other benefits. The use of powerful software to manage a hybrid workplace allows for rich coordination options and ensures a welcoming work experience.