9 ways that hot desking is hell

The 9 ways that hot desking is hell

More and more companies are going to hot-desking as flexible working becomes more prevalent.

I’m sure there are numerous benefits:

  • allows companies to have less space for more people with the increased flexibility of working from home
  • networking opportunities
  • more cross team working
  • more people get to sit at a window seat

and more.

But I really hate it.

Our company has hot-desking and has since I started there 2.5 years ago.  It works brilliantly for people who work a lot from home, and who are happy with doing it.  Yes I’m sure it’s great for networking with other people – although with increased flexibilities of working hours, that means more people compress hours.  Do they really have time to chit chat and find out about what each is working on?

Previously at work, there were always general areas where people tended to always sit.  This meant you could easily find them and always knew that someone sitting in that area would know vaguely about that area of work.  It was also a lot more social than my experience of hot-desking where people have their heads down and don’t really chat at all other than to do a tea round.

But we’ve moved offices now and apart from a few set roles – those who need to sit together, or those with medical needs, it’s all hot desking.

My gripes are numerous – and it seems that other people in the office feel the same.

9 ways that hot desking is hell - bubbablueandme

My 9 ways that hot desking is hell

1. It takes an age in the morning to set up.  Before, I’d just get my laptop and little box of stationery/notepad from my locker (yes, we have lockers because it’s all hot desks) on the way to my desk. Sit down, plug in and start work.  No having to re-log onto a phone, no having to locate where in the office my chair is, or my foot rest, or fan.  Not forgetting that now I have to readjust the monitor up or down depending on who sat there before, and find a comfortable style of keyboard and mouse that I like.  Oh yes, and to relocate all of those things, means disturbing someone else who’s already sat in the seat.

2. You can’t find the people you need to speak to, because you’ve no idea where in the office they might be sitting.  Or if they’re even in the office.

3. You can’t remain in a desk that suits your temperature requirements.  While we have air conditioning that works (if it’s turned on) in the new office, if you’re hot desking you always have to find a ‘cold’ or ‘hot’ desk, or sit there either sweltering or freezing depending on whether you like or hate the cold.

4. You have to find a desk.  Usually a lot of people work from home, or are out and about with work, but since moving office, it seems everyone wants to work in the office.  So if you don’t get in by 9.30 you could be sitting in a cupboard somewhere (maybe not quite that drastic, it might be in the kitchen).

5. You struggle to find a desk with the configuration you need, or in the location of the office you want.  I’m a left hander, so I need the long bit of my desk on my left, but in our office people tend to sit straight on and therefore don’t worry about which side of the desk is long for writing, so there’s fewer left hand desks to go round.  Also some people hate sitting on an aisle, others like to see the whole office and not have people jump on them from behind, and have plenty of leg room to have a foot rest.  Choosing a hot desk wastes time if you’re like me.

6. You feel like billy-no-mates if you’re sitting in the middle of a group of colleagues who have managed to bagsy an area of desks together.  You don’t have any need for work conversations with them, and apart from whether they have sugar and milk in their tea, there’s little other conversation going on. After sitting with the same people, plus a few random hot deskers for 2 years, I’d like to have my friends back again.

7. It’s easy to forget where you’re sitting from one day to the next.  Several times I’ve tried to sit in someone else’s seat by mistake.  It’s the equivalent of trying to open the wrong car door with your keys.

8. To get a regular desk you need to get in at about 7.30 in the morning.  I get in at 8.30 and still struggle to find one that I like.

9. You spend a lot of time griping to every new person you sit next to after they comment on how long it takes you to find all your equipment and set up.

Maybe I’m just picky, and if I just sat at a random desk on any chair using any old thing that’d be fine.  For some people it is.  But people do like to have a place to call their own, especially if they’re going to be in the office pretty much 5 days a week.  With the amount of time we spend it work, it’d be nice to have somewhere to call our own, and not just my locker.  Every other workplace I’ve worked at where people have worked out of the office/from home a lot, have had set desks or areas, and then a bank of hot desks, and it’s worked fine.

What’s the set up at your workplace, or do you work from home? Do you like to hot desk or prefer your own desk?

Edit: Post Covid and 2 years working from home, I’m now a hybrid work. So no more fixed desks, and if we’re in the office we book. Hot desking is less of an issue because obviously I can’t guarantee which desk will be available. Now it’s a case of working out where I prefer to sit, do I want to use a riser desk (yes), do I get to sit opposite a wall (because very few in the revamped office space are near windows. At the moment I’ve not worked out which are the left hand oriented desks, so my choice is fairly limited in order to avoid the ‘wrong’ configuration for me.

There’s still the issue of having to track down a keyboard to use, readjusting chair and monitor each time, plus bringing in all the stuff I need. But hybrid working is the way forward if only for the flexibility. That means I can live with hot desking on the occasions I’m in the office.

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  1. OH my goodness I am ocd and like things my way and not touched I would not do well in a company that did hot desking. That’s crazy I have never heard of it before. I agree on all 9 accounts and many more to add. lol Poor you. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

    1. Sounds like so many people feel the same. It’s weird that companies so frequently are going that way, and yet workers on the whole have lots of issues with it. I didn’t even mention the medical and ergonomic issues of having to reset up screens, chairs, direction of phone/mouse/keyboard etc – just the basics are a waste of time.

    1. Yes in the old building I’d have had no problems getting the chair I wanted or at least in area I wanted, because usually I was in at 8.30 and the office was rarely overbusy. But since the office move, it seems to be a lot busier – one day there weren’t even enough desks! I wouldn’t have been impressed if that had been me coming in late after an appointment to find there was nowhere to sit – when I’m a 5 days a week in the office person. What’s bad is that some people who’re hot deskers have started putting up personal belongings. What I need is to find a white circular sticker to stick over the hot desk one, so that shows it’s someone’s desk!

      1. I agree it is bad that people are personalizing their desks as it puts other people off using those desks and reduces the available pool. We weren’t allowed to personalize and even though it is more relaxed now I still don’t and leave a clear desk ever night. The only picture I have is one of my kids on my laptop desktop.

  2. I’d hate that, I used to share an office with a guy who was rarely in, so it was mine all mine, unless a) he was in and had a meeting or b) anyone else wanted a private meeting as the rest of the office was open plan, took me ages to relocate myself, I’d have hated to have down that every day.

    1. Nightmare if you’ve an office. Means you have even more bits and pieces. Thankfully I don’t have much so that’s a positive about hot desking. We do have a locker, but I don’t accumulate papers etc.

  3. I can definitely sense the frustration, this is how it is for my husband and his job, and as he’s dyspraxic it’s hard for him to have the things he needs to be organised as he usually can’t remember what he’s put where. I love working from home, he will get a work laptop soon so he can come home and write up, I’m looking forward to that, even if we’re both sat at a computer it’s nice to have some company xxx #sharewithme

    1. Definitely nice having a laptop, although that’s why we can do hot desking. How does he manage to hot desk without one?

      Although it’s not so good when you need to do work out of hours. Less excuses not to do so.

  4. I saw your tweet about this when I was on the train this morning and felt your pain. I work in a customer service role in a high street bank and the full time people tend to have ‘their’ desks and I get to sit wherever is free when I walk in on my days at work – usually wherever no-one else wants to sit! x

    1. Unfortunate when you’re the last one in. Yesterday it was so busy (unheard of unless it’s quarterly whole company meeting day), that there were people having to work in the breakout area.

      I’ve heard today, that some people (supposedly hot deskers) have started putting up photos at their desks. So not on. We’re on a mission to try and find ‘our’ space but struggling as there’s nowhere left that’s really big enough. Sad not to be able to be a bit more lively when working.

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