Hot desk

What is Hot Desking? A Comprehensive Guide.

Hot desking is a flexible workspace strategy that has gained significant popularity in recent years, particularly in the wake of the pandemic-induced rise of hybrid work. The concept involves employees choosing from available workstations on a first-come, first-served basis rather than having assigned desks. This approach optimizes office resources, fosters collaboration, and enables organizations to accommodate their changing workforce needs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hot desking is a flexible workspace strategy where employees choose from available workstations on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • This approach optimizes office resources and fosters collaboration.
  • Hot desking involves a lack of assigned desks.
  • This model is particularly popular in the digital age due to the rise of remote and hybrid work.
  • Implementing a hot desking environment requires thoughtful planning and consideration of potential challenges.

Definition of Hot Desking

Hot desking is a flexible workspace strategy where employees do not have assigned desks. Instead, they can choose from available workstations on a first-come, first-served basis. This approach emphasizes resource optimization and allows for greater collaboration between team members.

Why do we call it hot desking?

The term hot desking originated from a concept of shared and transient workspaces that are similar to “hot-bunking” or “hot-racking,” a naval term that refers to sailors sharing bunks on a rotating schedule. When shifts would change, the bunk would still be “hot” from the previous sailor who slept in it. In the case of hot desking, it refers to workstations shared by multiple employees on a rotating basis.

The term quickly gained popularity in the 1990s, as companies looked for ways to optimize office space and reduce real estate costs. Hot desking was seen as an effective strategy for achieving these goals, as it allowed companies to create a more flexible and adaptable workspace environment.

Today, hot desking has become an increasingly popular trend, as more companies embrace remote and hybrid work models. By providing employees with a flexible and adaptable workspace, hot desking can help companies improve resource utilization, promote collaboration, and provide a more dynamic work environment overall.

Hot Desking vs. Hoteling

Hot desking and hoteling are two popular workspace strategies that offer flexibility and optimization of office resources. While they share some similarities, they differ in their reservation systems and availability.

Hot desking allows employees to choose from available workstations on a first-come, first-served basis, offering more flexibility and less structure. Hoteling, on the other hand, provides employees with a reservation-based system, allowing them to book a workspace in advance.

Hot DeskingHoteling
First-come, first-served basisReservation-based system
No booking requiredReservation required
More flexibleMore structured

Hot desking is ideal for collaborative and dynamic teams who need agility and frequent interaction. Hoteling, on the other hand, is best suited for teams who require a more structured workspace, making it easier to plan and coordinate resources.

Both hot desking and hoteling have different advantages and drawbacks, depending on the specific needs and goals of the company. It is important to consider these factors when choosing between the two strategies, taking into account the availability of resources and the work culture of the organization.

Hot Desking vs. Free-addressing

Hot desking and free-addressing are both flexible workspace strategies that allow employees to work from different locations within the office. However, while hot desking provides a certain level of structure and organization by allowing employees to choose from available workstations, free-addressing offers no assigned desks, leaving employees to find available space or work from a personal laptop or device often coupled with technology that allows automated check-in and reservation of a specific desk when an employee sits at it.

Key differences between hot desking and free-addressing:

Hot DeskingFree-addressing
Employees choose from available workstations on a first-come, first-served basis.No assigned desks or workstations.
More structure and organization.Less structure, more flexibility.
May involve reservation systems or desk booking software.No reservation systems or desk booking software.

In comparison to free-addressing, hot desking provides more structure and flexibility. By allowing employees to choose from available workstations, hot desking ensures that individuals have a designated workspace and can easily collaborate with their colleagues.

However, it is important to note that both strategies have their pros and cons and may be more suitable for certain types of work or organizational cultures.

Benefits of Hot Desking

Hot desking offers many benefits for organizations looking to optimize office resources and increase collaboration. Some of the most significant benefits include:

Increased Employee CollaborationWith hot desking, employees have the opportunity to work alongside colleagues they may not have interacted with otherwise, fostering communication and idea generation.
Cost SavingsHot desking eliminates the need for assigned workspaces, which allows organizations to save on office space and equipment costs. This can be especially beneficial for companies with remote or part-time employees.
Improved Resource UtilizationHot desking ensures that office resources are utilized optimally, reducing waste and increasing efficiency. Employees only use resources they need, and space that goes unused can be allocated for other purposes.

Hot desking also has the benefit of creating a more dynamic and adaptable work environment, which can increase employee engagement and satisfaction. By allowing employees to work in a variety of locations within the office, they can choose the environment that suits their working style best and encourages productivity.

Overall, hot desking is a strategic choice for organizations looking to foster collaboration, reduce costs, and optimize resources while providing employees with a dynamic and flexible workspace.

Setting Up a Hot Desking Environment

Implementing a successful hot desking environment requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some tips and considerations to help you set up a hot desking environment:

Workstation Allocation:

Establish a fair and efficient system for allocating workstations. Consider implementing a reservation system or a first-come, first-served policy.

Technology Solutions:

Invest in technology solutions that support hot desking, such as digital signage to display workstation availability, collaboration tools to support remote workers, and security measures to protect sensitive data.

Employee Onboarding:

Provide thorough onboarding and training to ensure employees understand the hot desking policies and procedures. Encourage open communication to address any concerns or issues that may arise.

In summary, creating a successful hot desking environment involves thoughtful allocation of workstations, implementation of technology solutions, and thorough onboarding and training for employees. With careful planning and consideration, hot desking can provide numerous benefits and support a collaborative and flexible workplace.

Challenges of Hot Desking

While hot desking can provide many benefits, it also presents a unique set of challenges that should be carefully considered when implementing a hot desking system. Some of the challenges that may arise include:

Desk Availability

With a hot desking system, employees do not have assigned desks and must rely on available workstations. This lack of dedicated space can make it challenging for employees to find a desk when they need one, leading to frustration and decreased productivity.

Personalization Limitations

Hot desking can limit employees’ ability to personalize their workspace, which may negatively impact their sense of ownership and belonging in the office environment. Some employees may struggle with adjusting to a new desk each day and may find it difficult to store their personal items and workspace essentials.

Potential for Distractions

The open and collaborative nature of hot desking can also create distractions that may impact employee productivity. With a shared workspace, employees may be exposed to more noise and interruptions from their coworkers, leading to challenges in maintaining focus and concentration.

Tip: Providing noise-cancelling headphones or designating quiet areas within the office can help reduce distractions and improve employee focus.

Best Practices for Hot Desking

Hot desking can bring significant benefits to your organization if implemented correctly. To ensure success, companies should follow these best practices:

  1. Clear Guidelines: Create clear guidelines and policies outlining how hot desking works, including rules regarding workstation reservations and personalization limitations.
  2. Effective Communication: Implement effective communication strategies to keep employees informed of hot desking schedules, workstation availability, and any changes to policies or guidelines.
  3. Collaboration Tools: Provide collaboration tools such as video conferencing and digital whiteboards to facilitate communication and collaboration between employees.
  4. Flexibility: Allow for some flexibility in the hot desking policy to accommodate employee needs and preferences.
  5. Employee Feedback: Regularly collect employee feedback to understand how hot desking is working and make any necessary adjustments based on their input.
  6. Technology: Using a hot desking application like Tactic can take all of the guesswork out of who’s in the office, where they are, and what’s available.

By implementing these best practices, companies can create a flexible and collaborative work environment that maximizes the benefits of hot desking.

Hot Desking in the Digital Age

In today’s increasingly digital workplace, technology has become an essential component of a successful hot desking strategy. Utilizing reservation systems can help employees find and reserve available workstations more efficiently, reducing frustration and downtime. Digital signage can provide real-time information about workstation availability and facilitate wayfinding in large or complex office environments. Communication tools like instant messaging and video conferencing can enable remote employees to collaborate seamlessly with in-office staff, regardless of their location.

“Technology has the power to streamline and enhance the hot desking experience, but it’s important to strike a balance between automation and personal connection. Too much technology can make the workplace feel sterile and impersonal, so it’s crucial to ensure that there are still opportunities for face-to-face interactions and human connection.”

Nick Stice, CEO – Tech9 (Tactic customer)

While technology can certainly make hot desking more efficient and convenient, it’s important to ensure that it doesn’t undermine the collaborative and social benefits that this strategy offers. By finding the right balance between automation and personal connection, employers can create a productive and engaging hot desking environment that fosters teamwork, innovation, and employee satisfaction.

Hot Desking in Different Industries

Hot desking has become a popular workspace strategy across various industries, providing flexibility and resource optimization. Here are some examples:


In the tech industry, hot desking is widely used to promote collaboration and innovation. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Adobe have implemented hot desking environments, providing their employees with shared workspaces that encourage idea sharing and cross-functional teamwork.


Hot desking is also prevalent in the finance industry, where it allows firms to make the most of available office real estate. JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are among the financial companies that have adopted hot desking, emphasizing its cost savings and collaborative benefits.

Coworking Spaces

Coworking spaces are another example of hot desking in action, providing flexible workspaces for entrepreneurs, startups, and remote workers. Industry pioneers like WeWork, Regus, and Workbar have capitalized on the popularity of hot desking, offering businesses and individuals a range of shared workspaces and amenities.


The education sector has also embraced hot desking, as schools and universities seek to optimize classroom space. Hot desking allows schools to accommodate more students with fewer classrooms, promoting collaboration and flexibility. The University of Queensland in Australia has implemented hot desking for its staff, reducing its office space requirements and increasing collaboration and resource sharing.

Overall, hot desking has proven to be a versatile and effective workspace strategy across various industries, enabling organizations to make the most of available resources and foster collaboration and innovation.

Hot Desking and Employee Well-being

While the benefits of hot desking are numerous, it’s important to consider the potential impact on employee well-being. With employees no longer having assigned desks, concerns may arise around privacy, ergonomics, and personal space.

One way to address these concerns is by offering employees the option to reserve a designated hot desk for a certain period, ensuring they have a consistent workspace that meets their ergonomic needs. Additionally, providing privacy screens or dividers can help employees feel more comfortable in shared workspaces.

Encouraging breaks and movement throughout the workday can also help alleviate physical strain. Providing adjustable standing desks or ergonomic chairs can also improve overall employee comfort and prevent long-term health issues.

Finally, clear communication and guidelines surrounding personal storage and cleanliness can prevent distractions and create a balanced, respectful workspace. By prioritizing employee well-being, hot desking can continue to be an effective workspace strategy while also promoting a positive work environment.

Hot Desking and Remote Work

Hot desking and remote work are closely intertwined as businesses increasingly adopt hybrid work setups. Hot desking can provide a flexible workspace option for employees who split their time between remote work and the office. These employees can reserve a desk on days that they come into the office, improving resource utilization and fostering collaboration with colleagues.

Hot desking can also benefit remote employees when they occasionally come into the office for meetings or team events. Rather than having a fixed desk that may go unused most of the time, these employees may opt for a hot desk, allowing them to be more agile in their office presence.

However, it is important to consider the potential implications of hot desking on remote workers’ productivity and well-being. Remote workers who come into the office may face distractions or difficulty finding open desks, leading to frustration and a less productive work experience. Employers can address these concerns by implementing clear guidelines, effective communication, and a robust reservation system.

If you’re ready to get started on your hot desking journey, schedule a demo and take Tactic out for a test drive, today!

Future Trends in Hot Desking

As the workplace continues to evolve, so does the concept of hot desking. Here are some emerging trends and technologies that may shape the future of this flexible workspace strategy:

Flexible Environments

Companies are increasingly using hot desking to maximize the use of office space and foster collaboration. In the future, we may see more flexible environments that combine hot desking with other agile work strategies like remote work and shared spaces.

More Technology Integration

Current technology solutions for hot desking include desk booking systems, digital signage, and communication tools. In the future, we may see more advanced technologies like AI-assisted desk allocation, biometric security features, and virtual reality workstations.

Customizable Workstations

One of the challenges of hot desking is that employees may not have the ability to personalize their workspaces. In the future, we may see more customizable workstation options, such as adjustable desks and personalized lighting.

Increased Emphasis on Well-Being

The rise of remote work has accelerated the focus on employee well-being, and hot desking may need to adapt in order to accommodate workers’ needs. In the future, we may see more consideration given to ergonomics, privacy, and personal space in hot desking environments.

Overall, the future of hot desking is undoubtedly exciting, and these emerging trends and technologies will help to create even more dynamic and efficient work environments.


Hot desking offers a flexible and dynamic approach to office work that can lead to increased collaboration, cost savings, and resource optimization. While challenges such as desk availability and personalization limitations may arise, establishing clear guidelines, effective communication, and collaboration tools can help maximize the benefits of hot desking.

As technology continues to evolve, hot desking may become even more prevalent in modern workplaces. It also has the potential to support hybrid work models and occasional office visits for remote employees.

Considering the potential impact on employee well-being, it is important to prioritize privacy, ergonomics, and personal space when implementing a hot desking environment. However, with the right strategies and considerations, hot desking can be a valuable solution for optimizing office resources and fostering collaboration in the digital age.

Tactic is the easy button for hot desking

When you’re tired of using spreadsheets and endless Slack messages to organize your work efforts, we have a place you can rest your weary mind. We created Tactic to take all of the guesswork out of who’s in the office, what desks and rooms are available, and how the office is utilized. It’s the ultimate all-in-one desk booking, room reservation, and visitor management platform. Schedule a demo and take Tactic out for a test drive, today!


What is hot desking?

Hot desking is a flexible workspace strategy where employees do not have assigned desks but can choose from available workstations on a first-come, first-served basis.

Why do we call it hot desking?

The term “hot desking” originates from the concept of shared and transient workspaces, where multiple individuals utilize the same desk or workstation during different time intervals.

What is the difference between hot desking and hoteling?

While both hot desking and hoteling involve flexible workspaces, they differ in terms of reservation systems. Hoteling typically requires employees to reserve workstations in advance, whereas hot desking allows for spontaneous workstation selection.

How does hot desking compare to free-addressing?

Hot desking provides more structure and flexibility compared to free-addressing, as it still offers a pool of available workstations from which employees can choose, ensuring optimal use of office resources.

What are the benefits of hot desking?

Hot desking offers numerous benefits, including increased collaboration among employees, cost savings through optimized space utilization, and greater flexibility to accommodate varying work styles and team dynamics.

How do you set up a hot desking environment?

To set up a hot desking environment, consider factors such as workstation allocation, implementing technology solutions for desk reservation and tracking, and providing proper employee onboarding and communication about the new system.

What challenges might arise in a hot desking setup?

Challenges in a hot desking setup may include desk availability during peak times, limitations on personalization, and potential distractions due to shared workspaces. However, these challenges can be mitigated with clear guidelines and effective communication.

What are the best practices for hot desking?

Best practices for hot desking include establishing clear guidelines and expectations, implementing effective communication tools, fostering a collaborative culture, and providing adequate support and technology resources for employees.

How does technology support hot desking?

Technology plays a crucial role in supporting hot desking, including digital reservation systems, digital signage for indicating workstation availability, and communication tools for improved collaboration among employees.

How is hot desking implemented in different industries?

Hot desking strategies are implemented differently across various industries, adapting to specific workplace cultures and needs. Examples can range from coworking spaces in the creative industry to shared workstations in corporate offices.

What is the impact of hot desking on employee well-being?

Hot desking can impact employee well-being by requiring considerations for privacy, ergonomics, and personal space. Employers should ensure that employees have access to comfortable and ergonomic workstations, quiet areas, and opportunities for personalization.

How does hot desking relate to remote work?

Hot desking can support hybrid work models and accommodate occasional office visits by remote employees. It provides a flexible workspace for those who divide their time between remote work and in-person collaboration.

What are the future trends in hot desking?

Future trends in hot desking include the integration of smart office technologies, such as IoT sensors for tracking desk usage and providing personalized work environments, as well as further customization options to accommodate diverse work styles.