The PivotDesk Blog

To Hot or Not to Hot (Desk)

A Guide to Coworking Hot or Flex Desks, and Fixed Desks

Working from home is the siren song of the modern worker. As freelancing and flex hours and telecommuting, and who knows what else continue to become the new way of the business world, more and more of us have set up shop at the kitchen table. Or the back porch. Or the couch. Or on a beanbag by the fireplace.

As wonderful as it is, though, to sleep in a bit late, enjoy some coffee, and skip the commute before digging into work, for some of us, the distractions of home can prove to be a productivity killer.

There’s cleaning and laundry to do. The lawn really needs to be mowed. The dishwasher isn’t going to unload itself. And the television is RIGHT THERE just waiting to be binge-watched.

Whatever your Achilles’ heel of distraction may be, the fact is that sometimes it’s just better to have a place to go where work is the only thing to be done.

Fortunately, there are many options these days, with coworking spaces popping up everywhere. You just need to determine what type of space you need, what types of amenities you need, do you need a private office or just a desk where you can spread things out and really dig into the job at hand? And if you just need a desk, do you want a fixed desk or a hot desk?

The Hot Desk/Flex Desk

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Hot desking, put simply, is the concept of working in an office in which desk space is not permanently assigned. Each day you show up, there’s a room full of desks, you take your pick, and you get to work. This is in contrast to a dedicated desk environment in which a specific desk is designated as yours and yours alone.

And hot vs. fixed desking isn’t just a freelance thing. Many businesses are choosing to switch from a fixed to a hot desk model for their employees. But why? What are the benefits of hot desking for you or for your business?

Let’s examine the pros and cons.

Cost

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If you’re a freelancer looking at the cost of renting a hot desk vs. a fixed desk, the cheaper alternative is always going to be a hot desk. It just makes sense. Each fixed desk in a coworking space represents a chunk of real estate that can’t be used by anyone else. You’re going to pay for access 7 days a week, even if you only use it Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And that translates to less money in your pocket.

As a business owner, you’re looking for the most efficient use of space and resources. If you’re working from a fixed desk model, you’re invariably going to be left with a significant amount of unused space a significant amount of the time – especially if your employees are offered flexible schedules or sometimes work from home. With fixed desks, you need to have more space available, not only for your current staff but also for any new hires that may arrive as you continue to grow. 

Switching to a hot desk environment allows you to more efficiently utilize a smaller space. With hot desks, you only need space for those who are on-site right now. That’s less space sitting around unused, fewer resources thrown away, and more money for your bottom line.

For cost efficiency, hot desks win.

Stuff

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Work is more than just a place to sit. Depending on what you do, you’re going to need a variety of things to help you get it done. Whether that’s specialized computer equipment or just space to keep your files, if you have to cart it all around with you and set it up at a new desk every day, your productivity is going to take a hit.

If your work or that of your employees requires specialized equipment or supplies that aren’t easily transported, fixed desks are probably the way to go.

Creativity/Collaboration

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Views and personal preferences differ here. Some say the opportunity afforded by hot desks to meet and interact with new people every day makes for increased creative collaboration. Others talk about the benefits of building stable working relationships with fixed desk neighbors leads to greater productivity.

Some people thrive on the variety of a changing work atmosphere and interpersonal dynamics, while others just find it distracting and a deterrent to focus and concentration.

This is an area in which pros and cons are going to differ depending on the worker in question. Consider carefully. One man’s utopia of stimulation is another man’s nightmare of distraction.

Territoriality/Stress/Conflict

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If there’s one thing that can be said about humans in general, it’s that we’re creatures of habit – and we love to claim our territory.

As we get out of bed and prepare for our workday, the last thing we want or need is an additional reason to be anxious. When there’s the possibility of arriving at the office to find “the good desks” taken, we find ourselves dealing with added stress that simply wouldn’t be present if we knew that our familiar fixed desk (with its cozy chair perfectly adjusted to our body) was safely waiting for us.

For worker peace of mind and one less thing to worry about, the fixed chair would seem to be best.

In Conclusion…

Examine your own needs (or those of your employees) carefully before blindly jumping on the hot desk bandwagon. There are significant advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, and only you can decide which choice is best for you. If you want to talk through your situation, please reach out to someone at PivotDesk; we’d love to hear from you. 

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