May 13, 2023
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article featuring Leroy Gonsalves, Assistant Professor of Management & Organizations, discussing the disadvantages of hot-desking.
The term “hot-desking” refers to the act of employees grabbing an empty seat on the day they come into the office because they do not have assigned seats. The 2022 U.S. Workplace Survey found that 19% of the office workers who responded had unassigned workspaces, compared to 10% in 2020. Although hot-desking seems like a cost-saving no-brainer, many employees complain about this style of working. Having to hunt for a workspace every time they are in the office, not being able to find a station that suits their needs, and no longer having a permanent space that they can personalize are some of the many complaints. Research reveals that there are ways to minimize, and even eliminate, the negatives of hot-desking.
Based on a study analyzing a big company that went from assigned cubicles to a mix of workspaces, Gonsalves found that providing a mix of spaces with different ambiences benefited employees. He states, “People in our survey said that, if they sit with their team, colleagues come up to them constantly. But in an environment with hot desks and other variations—a library, a cafe-like setting, little cubicles—you can be social or you can intentionally hide away.”
“It gave employees agency to avoid unwanted interruptions while balancing individual tasks with professional obligations,” he says. “Employees felt that their productivity was judged less by time spent being seen, and more on their work outputs in the new office space. It seemed to work well.”