“Hot desking” is not nearly as steamy as it sounds. Think back to your school days, where they weren't any assigned desks in a classroom, and you had a different seat each day. It serves as a prescription for when there aren’t enough desks to go around and also a way for employees to get to know each other.
Smaller businesses, such as Apt MarketingSolutions in San Jose, Calif., also employ hot desking. CEO Curtis Thornhill tells me that his employees have a range of work spaces to select from -- private desks, couches, stools along a bar and a conference area around a table. But it’s not a total free-for-all. Thornhill has an assigned desk. Plus there are implied assigned desks where the developers and analysts with specific hardware needs sit, he says.
Marketing agency eReach, in San Diego, employs hot desking, too. Chief executive Myles Vives says that a few of the benefits he noticed about not having a fixed desk is that it discourages work cliques and gets people to focus more on their work and results. Another benefit for managers is that it allows them to move through the office to get a better feel for employee morale, issues and challenges -- and who is a good fit for remote working.
The fluid-desk situation is not only good for promoting relationships between employees. According to Ginger Jones, CEO of Jones Therapy Services in Tennessee, the hot desking model allows her 61 employees who work between seven different offices to move between locations and provide services to a larger area of the market.
For me, hot desking is an intriguing model. I consider myself easily distracted -- or at least I find it hard to focus around environmental stimuli -- something that can’t be avoided in an open space work environment such as the Entrepreneur office in New York City. So I’m always on the hunt for ways to aid my productivity and focus.
I work in a fixed desk environment and sit somewhat secluded at the end of a row of desks with partitions. In my mind, this arrangement lends me a certain amount of privacy and also provides me the ability to focus by way of deprivation of visual stimuli. I wondered how I would fare in terms of focus next to new deskmates in areas of higher and lower foot traffic.
I was also curious about interacting with different people outside my immediate circle. Who and what am I missing out on by sitting at an assigned desk?
There was only one way to find out: I gave hot desking a whirl for a week. Here’s how it went down.