Hot Desking: What It Is & How to Do It in 9 Steps

Hot desking is a resource sharing strategy where employees and contractors share desks, phones, and other office equipment vs. having their own. It’s typically used by big businesses but can also benefit smaller organizations. To do it successfully, you must determine that it’s a good fit and then acquire the right tools and resources.

To implement hot desking, you need communication tools that will serve your business strategy. If you have a mobile sales team, you’ll want to check out RingCentral’s hot desking phone solution where your team can log into any phone on your system. Learn more about RingCentral’s hot desking phones and voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) solutions to support your hot desking strategy.

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What Is Hot Desking?

Hot desking is a workspace strategy where employees don’t have dedicated desks. Instead, they share workspace and office equipment like computers, desks, and phones, often staggering their work shifts. This means they can go into their office and have access to the necessary files and tools to do their jobs no matter where they sit.

The term is typically used by larger organizations. Although, smaller businesses can also benefit from the practice, especially if the business relies upon field representative who only needs to spend a few hours in a physical office per week to meet or process paperwork. However, smaller businesses may find work share services like WeWork provides many of the same benefits of hot desking without the cost of long-term leases on physical spaces.

This strategy allows businesses to reduce overhead costs as it supports a remote workforce and allows a business to operate with a much smaller physical space. However, it is not for every organization as it can require additional information technology (IT) support and security due to the number of people who may be sharing a single computer as well as portable phone numbers that are not restricted to a single handset.

In addition, hot desking can affect individual job satisfaction if employees are used to personalizing their working spaces. However, when properly implemented, it can provide employees with benefits like added mobility, giving them the ability to switch workspaces so they can be closer to project teammates while completing critical tasks.

How to Set Up Hot Desking in 9 Steps

Once you understand what hot desking is, the next steps are to determine if it’s right for your business, and ultimately, implement it as a staffing strategy. Steps include getting buy-in from your team and sourcing the necessary equipment.

To ensure hot desking will be a success for your team, here are nine steps you should follow.

1. Determine if Hot Desking Is Right for Your Business

Examine your business model. The role your employees or contractors play will determine if hot desking is right for your business. Consider the number of office locations you have, the mobility of your employees, the number of shifts your employees work, and whether or not collaboration and sharing are valued and required. It typically works best for companies with mobile employees, collaborative cultures, or employees working in shifts.

Below are several questions that can help you decide if hot desking fits your business:

  • Does your company have multiple offices and a mobile workforce?
  • Do you have a sales or service team working different shifts?
  • Do you employ temporary workers, consultants, and contractors?
  • Does your business provide co-working or temporary office space to entrepreneurs or freelancers?
  • Do you have a long training program that precedes permanent employment?
  • Does your company culture celebrate and promote efficiency and resource sharing?
  • Is teamwork and a sense of belonging promoted in ways other than sitting in the same space every day?
  • Do your employees handle sensitive company or employee data?

Once you’ve determined that hot desking may be a good fit for you, the next thing you’ll want to do is to create a multidisciplinary team to explore what hot desking would look like in your business and how it could work best.

2. Solicit Initial Feedback from Teammates

Once you’ve decided that hot desking could work for you, the next thing to do is get buy-in and feedback from the people the policy will affect. For small businesses, your planning team will consist of a few people. For medium to large businesses, you’ll have a larger multidisciplinary planning team. No matter how small the team is, all necessary perspectives like human resources (HR), technology, prospective hot desking employees, and legal should be considered.

Below are examples of people making up a business’ multidisciplinary team.

Human Resources

The role of human resources is to look out for employees’ best interests. Good HR professionals will research how seating arrangements including hot desking, can affect morale. They will also bring up challenges such as accommodations being made for employees with disabilities and how they would be impacted. Because this decision has a major impact on your people, the HR perspective is crucial to planning.

Information Technology

The role of IT is crucial because hot desking is dependent on technology. Your IT team will share whether or not your current infrastructure can support a hot desking strategy. They can also identify and share with you any technology gaps and how much it will cost to close them as the policy is implemented.

Team Leads and Managers

Team leads and managers know your employees and the nature of their jobs best. They see how the current desk arrangement is working and can help you identify any pitfalls that hot desking may bring. They can also serve as your biggest advocates for hot desking and how it can make your hot desking employees’ jobs easier and more enjoyable.

Potential Hot Desking Employees

Having representation from one or two of the affected employees as part of the planning process is crucial because they will feel their perspectives and opinions were taken into consideration beforehand. They will give you insight into what they do on a daily basis and how hot desking can either help or hinder them in doing their jobs. They can also be your biggest advocates once your strategy rolls out.

Legal and Compliance

It is important for legal, compliance teams, or partners to be involved in your planning and even on your committee. They will be able to point out any aspects of hot desking, whether HR or business operations related, that could put you at risk. Along with the rest of your planning committee, they could help you come up with a strategy that will be effective while minimizing any legal or compliance risk.


Having someone who manages your facilities on the planning committee is key, especially if you are considering buying new furniture and equipment. They will know the current state of existing equipment and whether or not it is suitable for your hot desking strategy. They will also be able to tell you if any equipment or furniture you are looking to purchase will work well in your space.

Having all stakeholders involved in the planning process is key to making your hot desking strategy work. It decreases your chances of overlooking critical insights and increases your chances of creating a strategy that nearly everyone is happy with.

3. Explain Your Hot Desk Goals

Once you’ve created your planning committee, the next thing you’ll want to do is to explain the goals you are trying to achieve in a way that is easy to understand and can be distributed throughout the organization. While small teams may not require this step, it is especially important for larger businesses. Feel free to get creative with this step by using drawing, or photos to describe how you see hot desking working in your organization.

Below are three steps you should follow to explain your hot desking goals clearly.

Determine Your Main Objective

To determine your main objective for implementing hot desking, think about how you’d like this workspace approach to impact your business. Does it appeal to you because of the cost savings sharing resources can have? Do you like the idea of creating an environment that is more open and collaborative? Ask yourself probing questions to get to your main objective.

Visualize Hot Desking for Your Business

Once you’ve gotten to the heart of your main objective, imagine how you’d like to see hot desking utilized within your business. This will help you create your vision statement later.

Here are a few questions to consider when creating your hot desking vision:

  • Do you see hot desking being a company-wide initiative or something only certain teams participate in?
  • Are you envisioning all employee levels participating or only certain levels? For example, will senior management or business owners participate?
  • How do you envision various teams interacting in a hot desking environment?
  • What type of decor do you see in your hot desking space?
  • How will you handle the need and desire for personalization
  • How and where will you store personal items?

Create a Vision Statement

Once you’ve answered all of these questions, come up with a vision statement. Your vision statement will be your guide as you move toward implementation. Your vision statement should articulate how you see hot desking working, the positive impact you seek to achieve, and how you plan to bring the strategy to life.

Your hot desking vision statement should contain four elements.

Vision Statement Elements

Your Overall Vision This is your high-level vision of what you want to achieve
Current Problem The issue that prompted you to decide on a hot desking solution
How Hot Desking Will Solve Your Current Problem Here you describe how hot desking will solve this problem
How You Will Implement Hot Desking This details how you will implement hot desking

Here are a vision statement template and a specific example you can use to create your own.

Hot Desking Vision Statement Template

To create your own hot desking vision statement, use the following template:

Our vision is to _____________________________ (state overall vision). Currently, ______________________ (state current problem). With hot desking, _______________________ (how hot desking will solve problem). We will implement our hot desking solution by _______________________ (how you will implement hot desking)

Specific Example: Mobile Sales Team Hot Desking Vision Statement

Our vision is to optimize space and resources by introducing hot desking to our territory-based mobile sales team. Currently, each salesperson has a dedicated desk in one of our offices but travels to meet clients near their home office and many of our other locations.

With hot desking, our sales team can meet with clients and work from any location. We will implement our hot desking solution by creating a mobile sales team space in each location and upgrade our hardware, software, and phone system to give access to records and profiles from any hot desking workstation.

Once you’ve created your vision statement, use it to help you focus on what you’re trying to achieve, the reasons behind it, and how you plan to make it happen. As you’re creating and implementing your plan, go back and tweak it as needed.

4. Identify Your Workspace, Technology & Management Needs

The next thing you’ll need to do is identify your workspace, technology, and management needs. Your designated workspaces must make hot desking easy for the employees who will be using them. Technology must allow hot desking employees to log-in from any desk and do their jobs. Finally, hot desking must be managed, ideally by someone either dedicated to its success full-time or someone with enough bandwidth to ensure its success.

Here are some considerations around workspace, management, and technology needs.

Workspace Needs

The heart of hot desking is the workstation your hot desking employee will be using. Make sure your desks and chairs are comfortable and conducive to productivity. Also, they need to be set up for universal use and are durable enough to maintain a lot of wear and tear. This is especially true if your hot desking solution is for shift workers since there will be very little downtime in between use of workspace equipment.

You’ll want to ensure there are areas designated for team meetings and co-worker privacy. Spaces need to be designated for conference rooms and personal phone calls. Also, make sure you have enough break rooms and spaces to eat and socialize to minimize eating and socializing in workspaces. Eating can create a mess and cause discomfort for employees sharing desk spaces and too much socializing can be distracting.

Management Needs

Your hot desking solution is not finished once it’s up and running. A dedicated person or team will need to oversee your program to ensure it runs smoothly and so that changes are made when needed. Managing hot desking should include coordination of hardware and software, enforcement of hot desking rules, maintenance of furniture, and management of space. At this stage, identify or plan for a resource to manage the program actively.

Technology Needs

For hot desking to be done successfully, you’ll need hardware, software, and a phone system that will suit multiple users. Hardware must be durable enough for continuous use, especially if your strategy is covering employees working different shifts using the same workspace. Software needed to access customer, and prospect data should be accessible from any device. Phones should be able to access multiple profiles that include employee voicemails.

Below are a few technology suggestions for hot desking:

  • Commercial-grade desktops and laptops: Hot desking strategies require either desktops or laptops that are durable as they will be used by more people with varying work habits than dedicated machines
  • Professional grade monitors: Because shared monitors will have less downtime than dedicated monitors, you’ll want to use commercial grade monitors that are built for longer use.
  • VoIP: With a VoIP hot desking phone solution, your employees can log into any phone on your system, even from different locations, and have their profile, extension, and voicemail activated
  • Cloud-based CRM: A cloud-based CRM is helpful with hot desking because your sales, service, and other employees can access customer and prospect data from anywhere by logging in
  • Cloud-based communication, productivity & storage software: Hot desking employees need access to email, word processing, and other tools, and electronic ways of storing files; cloud-based tools like GSuite, Microsoft Office, and Dropbox can come in handy with hot desking

A category of technology important to a hot desking strategy is the phone system. RingCentral has hot desking phones and VoIP solutions that are worth checking out. Visit its website for more information.

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5. Establish Your Non-workspace Requirements

While hot desking requires less space in terms of workspace equipment and desk furniture, you’ll still need space for privacy and collaboration. Having these types of dedicated spaces will help reduce socializing and eating at desks and offer space for teamwork and privacy.

Here are examples of additional space you’ll need to help support your hot desking program:

  • Conference rooms: Conference rooms are key for private team or client meetings
  • Collaboration spaces: Spaces to collaborate are important to foster teams working together
  • Cafe/eating areas: Eating at hot desking work areas can cause damage to equipment and if not cleaned up, can cause employees not to like hot desking; having cafes and designated eating areas can minimize eating at hot desks
  • Phone rooms: Because hot desking environments don’t typically allow for much privacy, rooms where employees can make phone calls are important
  • Quiet rooms: Some hot desking spaces can be noisier than traditional dedicated desk environments, especially if the floor plan and desks are more open; for this reason, quiet rooms may be important to offer space to workers who need quiet time

Having these types of spaces meets the need for privacy or collaboration, the hot desking environment alone doesn’t provide. However, if you don’t want to spend money on a large meeting space that rarely gets used, you may also want to consider signing up to use conference rooms available through temporary office space providers.

WeWork, with a variety of temporary office spaces, is a great option for small business owners, solopreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers needing the occasional extra space for meetings. Best of all, membership also comes with access to community building events, giving your business added visibility in the community. Contact WeWork for additional information.

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6. Test Your Hot Desking Program

Before launching your hot desking strategy, you should do a pilot of the program to see how the program works out with a small number of your employees. Testing your program before rolling it to the larger group can save you a lot of time and money if you discover the strategy isn’t a good fit for your organization. It will also give you the opportunity to tweak your program.

Here are a few things you can do to create a pilot program:

  1. Choose a small group of employees to participate in the program.
  2. Establish the length of time your pilot program will last.
  3. Have your pilot participants document regularly how hot desking is going. To make this easier, create a feedback sheet with questions you want answers to.
  4. Choose a pilot program manager to make observations and provide feedback on how participants are using the space and how furniture and equipment are holding up.
  5. Once the pilot is over, collect and review results to make a decision about a full roll-out or a roll-out with changes to the program.

7. Review Your Hot Desking Pilot Results

Once your pilot is complete, review and discuss your results with your planning committee. Take the positive and negative feedback into consideration and decide if it’s the right fit for your organization and will help you achieve your goals. If you decide that it would be a great fit, consider any negative feedback or suggestions and make adjustments to your hot desking strategy.

8. Tweak & Roll Out Your Hot Desking Strategy

If your hot desking pilot is a success, make any necessary changes and then roll it out to the rest of your company, department or team. If the group you are rolling your program out to is relatively small, you can do a roll out all at once. For larger teams or groups of people, it’s best to do it in stages.

Here are some considerations for rolling out your hot desking program:

  1. Create a detailed project plan with tasks, key dates, and people responsible.
  2. Develop a hot desking policy and review it with your employees.
  3. Order furniture, equipment, accessories, and software in waves or as needed to support your hot desking roll-out dates.
  4. Schedule times to install and set up your workstations that won’t interfere with daily operations.
  5. Choose dates to transition employees to their new hot desking workspace with minimal disruption.

Considerations will depend on a variety of factors including the size of your hot desking employees and the timeline in which you want to implement your program. Make your own list of considerations and plan your roll-out with them in mind.

9. Create a Hot Desking Feedback System

Once your hot desking program is up and running, it is important to create a feedback system to stay in tune with how it’s working and act upon any suggestions, if necessary. Doing this will help ensure employee satisfaction with your new hot desking solution. It will also help you track and address any challenges employees may be experiencing.

Here are a few topics you should gather feedback around regularly:

  • Team & company culture: Hot desking can help foster stronger company culture, or they can have the opposite effect; it’s important to stay on top of the health of your company culture to identify any positive or negative effects of hot desking
  • Cleanliness of workspace: For hot desking to be successful, workstations must be clean and sanitized; feedback will help you monitor how clean co-workers and janitorial staff are keeping the spaces clean
  • Personalization & workspace creativity: With hot desks, employees lose the ability to decorate their desks, display photos or showcase valuable tokens; stay on top of employees’ feelings about this and to create ways to personalize their virtual space
  • Availability of hot desks: Within a hot desking environment, in some scenarios, it’s possible for more workers to show up looking for a desk than there are desks available; if this is a common occurrence, you’ll want to know about it, so you can address it
  • Availability of conference rooms & privacy rooms: Sometimes, conference and privacy rooms are hard to come by as hot desking demand increases; stay on top of this to address it so there is adequate availability
  • Impact on productivity: If hot desking is having a positive effect on productivity, you’ll want to track this and see what you can do to make things even better; if it has the opposite effect, you’ll want to recognize the problem right away and make changes

Pros of Hot Desking

The positives of hot desking range from cost savings to collaboration. Below is a list of hot desking pros:

  • Cost savings: Allows you to save money by only buying equipment that will be used when it is needed; or instance, you won’t need to buy desks and other equipment for two different shifts; employees from different shifts can use the same workspaces
  • Fosters collaboration: Hot desking facilitates collaboration, especially when it incorporates open work areas where teams can come together and collaborate; it also encourages sitting with different people instead of always sitting with the same people
  • Supports mobile & remote workers: With a hot desking, mobile workers can work from any office without worrying about not being at their desks; in addition, remote workers have the option of coming into the office as needed

Cons of Hot Desking

Hot desking negatives include privacy and sanitary concerns. Below is a list of hot desking drawbacks:

  • Reduction In privacy: Hot desking usually comes with a reduction in privacy, to foster teamwork and collaboration; this can cause HR and other issues if you do not incorporate additional space for private meetings and phone calls
  • Lack of personalization: When you no longer have a dedicated workspace, you can’t bring photos, plants, and other items that make it your own; this can be a disappointment to some employees who look forward to decorating their own spaces
  • Increased wear & tear: Because workspace equipment is being used more often, it can cause more wear and tear; dedicated workspaces have a period where there is a break in use. Hot desking workspaces are used more often as they are shared
  • Lack of social consistency: Sitting with different people every day can be a nice change, but a potential downside is being able to build long-term relationships that are fostered by seeing and working with the same people daily

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Many questions come up about what hot desking is and why anyone would want to do it. Below are commonly asked questions you or your employees may have about hot desking.

What is the purpose of hot desking?

There are many reasons companies choose to implement a hot desking strategy. Some of these reasons include optimizing workspace where workspaces are shared and are not idle when employees are not working. Other companies could benefit from higher levels of collaboration and use it to bring employees from different parts of the company together.

What technology do I need to make hot desking work?

To make hot desking work, you’ll need hardware and software that allows employees to log in and access their profile, settings, files, and records needed to do their jobs. This technology also includes having a phone system, like RingCentral’s solution, where they can log in and access their voicemails from any phone. You’ll also need cloud-based tools where data can be housed instead of being housed on laptops or desktops.

What is a hot desking policy?

A hot desking policy ensures there are rules around how employees use hot desks and supporting spaces like privacy rooms or conference room. Policies are necessary to ensure a positive hot desking experience for everyone.

Bottom Line

Hot desking can be done successfully if it is well thought out, planned with input from stakeholders and employees who are most affected by the strategy and executed with your main objectives and vision in mind. Using these nine steps can help ensure your hot desking initiative will be a success.

An important component of hot desking is giving employees the ability to log in and work from any hot desk. This not only includes computers but phones as well. RingCentral offers a hot desking phone solution where your employees can log in to any hot desking phone and activate their profile and voicemail and also retrieve their voicemails. For more information, visit RingCentral for hot desking information.

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