Moving To A Hot Desk Culture: The Pros

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The last decade has also brought about significant changes in the physical spaces many office workers now find themselves in. With the rise in flexible working, freelancers and entrepreneurs, we are adopting a greater fluidity to “our desks” and “our office spaces”.  Companies are opting to remove cubicles and embrace the open-plan era. Hot desking is one of the many trends of working in the 21st century, with many companies implementing it to reap its benefits 1. With new and different ways of working being created every day, Companies must adapt to the new demands of the modern workplace but also make sure not to cause harm to their workers.

The Theory of Hot Desking

Office work has changed over the decades from clerical and repetitive activities towards more collaboration-intensive knowledge work. However, office design has not kept up with the pace. The traditional office as a place to display the organizational hierarchies, status symbols and functional department boundaries. With all the latest advancements in technology, the world has now become an office and with this change the need for office space continues to diminish.

Amazingly, the standard office uses only 30-45% of its space on an average daily basis (2). According to a 2010 report by New Ways of Working (New WOW), based on a survey of 103 organizations and including Fortune 100 companies, six out of 10 respondents said they were ditching fixed desks and switching to hot desking (2).

In Australia, the government hopes to have 12% of employees working remotely by 2020, while research shows that 74% of businesses hope to employ more freelancers in the near future. Last year, research by Magnet Networks showed that over half (58%) of 540 business surveyed said they have introduced a cloud system for either their staff, their clients or for both, enabling them to work remotely (3).

Sceptics of hot desking think it is just a way for workplaces to stuff more employees in a smaller space and therefore improving overall efficiency. Contrastingly, people also believe that adults shouldn’t need an assigned seat to carry out their work. According to Cisco, 60% of global “knowledge workers” use a laptop, tablet, or smartphone for work and this trend only promises to increase.

Many workplaces use cloud software to store and backup their files and so accessing them from multiple devices would not be difficult.

For example, flexible and/or shared work environments have been associated with:

  • Greater employee satisfaction (4)

  • Projecting an image of being modern and forward thinking (5)

  • Improving flexibility in the use of the physical space (6)

  • Enabling closer working relationships (5)

  • Higher productivity (7)

  • More easily exchanged knowledge and skills (8)

  • Increased networking opportunities (9)

  • Cost-savings (5)

What Are The Benefits Of Hot Desking?

There are many different ways of quantifying the process of Hot Desking. Firstly, if an Organisation wishes to adopt this new working style, they must have clear goals in mind that they wish to achieve. Here are some of the pro’s relating to the Practice of Hot Desking.

You’ll Have Lots More Space

Desks take up space in an office, fewer desks ensure that less office space is required. Hot-desking can have a dramatic effect on reducing office space and when an appropriate plan is put in place, 20-30% gains may be obtained (10). In an age of remote working, it makes little economic sense for employees to occupy prime locations. Advances in technology allow Companies to reduce property costs by implementing flexible working and relocating staff to cheaper regions (11). Hot-desking frees up desk space and allows a more cost-efficient and effective use of the office space available.

It Can Be Really Cost Effective

Cost is probably one of the main considerations for using a Shared Office Space strategy like Hot-desking.

Cost is probably one of the main considerations for using a Shared Office Space strategy like Hot-desking.

In prime real estate areas, office space is prohibitively expensive and can make costs difficult for businesses to manage and maintain. In an attempt to implement an effective cost saving strategy, reducing the amount of necessary office space can be a cost-efficient a method of achieving this goal (10). Flexible working started in the IT sector and this particular area of the workforce seems suited to this way of working.

IBM says 42% of its employees do not regularly come into an office, saving $100m annually in real estate costs
— Geoff Nairn

  Other businesses have reported cost savings of up to 30% when they implement the space saving technique of hot-desking in their office spaces. These cost savings are generally made by using the available space more intensively and, in addition, the amount of physical space needed does not have to increase in proportion to the number of employees, so organisations can delay acquiring new space as they grow (6, 9).

It Helps To Encourage A Creative Environment

Depending on your Organisation and the overall disciplines under one roof, hot-desking can help to encourage a more creative environment. It brings all employees closer together and this can have many benefits in terms of encouraging communication, improving teamwork and fostering ideas amongst your employees (10).

It can lead to an environment that encourages creativity by boosting opportunities for workers to interact with colleagues they wouldn’t normally interact with and therefore leading to a better team ethic and an increase in productivity (12).Creativity is an essential ingredient of any prosperous organisation and hot-desking can act as a catalyst for the kind of innovative thinking that keeps a business healthy and prosperous (10).

Overlap between departments

Many new modern offices enhance an employee's experience by creating a stimulating environment by which they work in. However, if you adopt a fluid working ethos and then put up walls and barriers, the benefits of a new work system will be diluted. Constructed physical and social space provide an indirect way by which the company can articulate and reinforce the views on how the organization should function.

These observational artefacts may or may not be truly representative of the underlying culture and desired ways of working. Other organisational elements including technology, organisational structure, and business processes should all be aligned with physical space in order to avoid sending mixed messages about the organization’s values (13). Hot Desking is a work process, a way of thinking and also the physical environment. Harnessing all three can lead to a far greater benefit.

It Allows For Great Flexibility

In the modern workplace, employees have the option of working from home, on the move or simply carrying out their duties from another location. Hot-desking is the evolution of this new fluid work system. It can help Companies to reduce costs on rent for an empty office where most of the desks unattended. Hot-desking is tailored for an office and employees that are flexible and mobile (14).

Part of the rationale for adopting flexible work environment is to enable cooperation, networking and group work (16). The assumption is that a shared work environment will facilitate communication and interaction which will, in turn, improve performance and productivity (4, 15).

Hot-desking helps to capitalise on employee preference and provide a flexible working environment in which staff aren’t restricted to their desk and are able to start and finish at times that are more suitable for their healthy work-life balances. Hot-desking and flexible working allow staff a greater level of mobility (12).

As office redesign in the 1970s and 1980s typically involved movement away from single private offices in favour of cubicles, today’s redesign efforts involve practices such as lowering walls and creating more alternative workspaces. Also, the age composition of people in today’s offices is on average younger and more diverse than in the 1970s and 1980’s, raising the question whether the prior findings are still applicable to younger and more varied generations of employees (17).

Nowadays there are more generations working side by side at the office than ever before, ranging from the soon-retiring, idealistic and sacrificing baby boomers, to Generation X who is aiming for a work-life balance, and to the self-confident Millennials, who prefer working in groups and are more open to change and new technologies (17).

Ultimately, providing options for workers to suit both individual preferences and the type of work being carried out, is likely to be the key to successful implementation of shared office environments and hot-desking in situations where the provision of private offices is deemed inappropriate or too expensive. Therefore, those tasked with the design and implementation of such systems, should consider user-testing of the work environment and employee participation in workspace design as part of a user-centred approach to the introduction of shared workspaces (15).

If you’re considering making the move towards hot desking, contact us to see how we can help with providing an ergonomic environment for your team.






  4. Sundstrom, E., Burt, R. E., & Kamp, D. (1980). Privacy at work: Architectural correlates of job satisfaction and job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 23, 101-117.

  5. McElroy, J. C., & Morrow, P. C. (2010). Employee reactions to office redesign: A naturally occurring quasi-field experiment in a multi-generational setting. Human Relations, 63, 609-636.

  6. Elsbach D K (2003).Relating Physical Environment to Self-Categorizations: Identity Threat and Affirmation in a Non-Territorial Office Space. Administrative Science Quarterly. Vol. 48, No. 4 (Dec., 2003), pp. 622-654

  7. Cole, R. J., Bild, A., & Oliver, A. (2012). The changing context of knowledge-based work: consequences for comfort, satisfaction and productivity. Intelligent Buildings International, 4(3), 182-196. doi:10.1080/17508975.2012.695950

  8. Ashkanasy, N. M., Ayoko, O. B., & Jehn, K. A. (2014). Understanding the physical environment of work and employee behavior: An affective events perspective. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35, 1169–1184. doi:10.1002/job.1973

  9. Elsbach, K. D., & Bechky, B. A. (2007). It’s more than a desk: Working smarter through leveraged office design. California Management Review, 49(2).




  13. Edgar H. Schein (1990). Organizational Culture. American Psychologist. 45(2); 109-119


  15. Rachel L. Morrison, Keith A. Macky (2017).The demands and resources arising from shared office spaces Applied Ergonomics 60

  16. Irving, G., & Ayoko, O. (2014). An exploratory study of the connection between office environments and group cognition. presented at the meeting of the 28th Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) 2014

  17. McElroy, J. C., & Morrow, P. C. (2010). Employee reactions to office redesign: A naturally occurring quasi-field experiment in a multi-generational setting. Human Relations, 63, 609-636.