Maxwell Stephens

Hot-desking: A New Way of Working and What it Means for FM Managers

Hot-desking is the innovative “new” way to revolutionise your Facilities Team. As a manager, you’re always looking for cutting-edge ways to improve productivity and reduce the running costs of your department.


This method is a great office hack that:


  • Saves Space  with a team of five sharing a single desk, you could greatly reduce the amount of space you need. That could create room for new equipment, or allow you to expand your team without needing to relocate to a larger office.
  • Saves Time – for once it won’t not be the manager’s job to tell someone to pick up the pace. Knowing a colleague needs their desk as soon as possible, employees will be forced to work faster. This also prevents those wasted hours of internet browsing as your team get a much-needed boost of energy and urgency.
  • Saves Money – as a facilities manager, budgeting is a big part of your day-to-day. Hot-desking helps to cut overhead costs significantly. Rent will be lower for a smaller office, and the cost per employee will reduce as they no longer require personal space or equipment.

Despite being profoundly suited to today’s office, hot-desking is hardly new. It grew in prevalence in office-spaces in the 1990s, yet has a long military background. ‘Hot racking’ is the term for when multiple sailors on a ship share the same bunk. As one starts their watch, the other ends theirs; meaning there is only need for one bed between them.


And if it’s good enough for the Lord Nelson, it’s good enough for us. A clearly efficient and functional model, hot-desking has continued to gain popularity in recent years. Hot-desking is even more befitting to a modern office. A study by Cisco found that 60% of global knowledge workers use a laptop, tablet or smartphone for work.


That makes the typical shared clunky desktop computer (complete with tower and dial up internet) obsolete. Your team are able to work flexibly at any location, making hot-desking increasingly relevant to Facilities Management.



Hot-desking and FM


Whilst it may not work for every department in a company, hot-desking is ideal for your facilities team. Perfect for a varied workload, this method works best for a team with a mixture of hard and soft FM tasks.


It’s extremely unlikely your entire team will be sat at their desks all the time. According to Franklin Becker, workers are generally only at their desks a minuscule 30% of the time. In FM, this number can be considerably lower as hard FM tasks call your staff away. That makes the need for personal workspaces redundant. 


With everyone on the move, a huge office full of empty chairs is pointless. Hot-desking is tailored to the more mobile team, and no one needs flexibility more than a Facilities Department. 


It’s also ideal if your company requires 24-hour service for their building. When your team is made up of regular rotating staff with specific hours, the old bunk-sharing method comes in handy. As one employee finishes their shift, another starts; meaning they can share a single desk without ever fighting over it.




Is hot-desking right for your team?


As with everything, hot-desking has its down sides. Some of your team members may not be all too enthusiastic about giving up their personal space, and your employer might not feel comfortable with being unable to monitor employee activities as easily.


Hot-desking requires clear communication and a great deal of organisation from both you and your staff in order to work. Employees should have access to another location, such as lockers, to store their equipment and paperwork. Without it, information could be lost or confused.


It’s important that you look at the actual desk usage within your department before implementing a hot-desking system. Where would it make the most sense?


Are your facilities assistants mostly at their computers, or are they usually out of the office? It often makes more sense for senior staff to hot-desk as they spend a lot of time in meetings or checking up on other employees. Make sure the decision is right for your team’s circumstances. 


It will also benefit you to look at patterns of attendance throughout the year. Hot-desking may work for you right now, but is it likely to become a strain around the holidays? Think of your past experiences, events throughout the year and the demands of your team.

Set some ground rules


We all know of the holidaymakers who purposely leave their towels on the sun bed early in the morning, preventing anyone else from enjoying it in the meantime. Some people just aren’t keen on sharing.


Setting rules about reserving or booking desks, depending on what works best for your team, means no one gets passed over. There are systems available that’ll let your team check online which desks are free that day, so no one wastes their day hunting for a flat surface to work on.


Make your system equal. Your team may feel undervalued if they’re forced to hot-desk whilst you enjoy your own desk and office. Some worry this method challenges the hierarchy of a business, but morale is vitally important to keeping your team at their best. If at all possible, share your own desk whenever you can. 


When poorly planned or executed, hot-desking can be a difficult model for your office. It’s up to you to consult with your team, involve them in the process, and conduct frequent reviews to ensure it really is working for you.


Hot-desking isn’t for everybody, but in Facilities Management, being flexible and cost-effective is the best possible thing you can do for your department.


Looking for more interesting content about the world of facilities management? Take a look at our blog. If you have any questions about Facilities Management or the services that we offer, please do contact one of our team on 0207 118 48 48 or

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