Hot desking is a relatively new form of office space allocation that emerged after it was revealed that traditional office space was sometimes inefficient, since workstations were only used during a fraction of the working day. By contrast, hot desking allows employers to maximise the amount of space available and is generally favoured by organisations known for their flexible working cultures.
Inclusions and Exclusions
Hot desks are available in business centres or as part of corporate office space and include:
- Access to desk space, although desks are not allocated to specific employees. In cases where employees are not used to this space configuration, hot desking may increase the time it takes to get set up and ready to start the working day. Moreover, hot desks do not generally allow the personalisation of workspace.
- The use of shared facilities, which may include other flexible workstation arrangements such as standing desks or communal work tables, meeting rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, break areas, and showers if available.
- Telecom infrastructure (mainly applicable to business centres and co-working spaces), including high-speed broadband, landlines, and WiFi.
- Basic furniture, including desks, chairs, and sometimes archive storage.
- Utility bills.
The following are usually excluded from hot desking packages:
- Some business centres will charge for the use of meeting and conferencing rooms or business lounges. Rates may be billed hourly, daily, or monthly.
- The same applies to additional support services (like reception and admin) and to the use of printers and photocopiers.
- Parking space may or may not be included, although some business centres try to encourage alternative means of transportation and provide bicycle parking.
Typical Occupier Profile
Hot desking was initially implemented by large companies that needed to have staff available round-the-clock but that were also looking make a more efficient use of their office space. Later, this practice was adopted by companies of all sizes, from the British Airports Authority (which reported savings of £400,000 / year) to small start-ups.
A Virgin study also revealed that hot desking tends to work best with a specific demographic group: workers under 35 years old with a university degree and employed in professions that are project or activity-based. Hot desking arrangements are also popular with remote or part-time workers who only need short-term use of desk space, solopreneurs, freelancers (who account for 54 per cent of all users), and contractors in the technology, fintech, and creative industries. These sectors are best suited to hot desking given that they tend to implement flexible working practices such as telework or bring-your-own-device policies.
Hot Desk Space In London
Along with global entrepreneurial hubs like San Francisco, New York, or Singapore, London is considered one of the best locations in terms of the hot desking options available in the city. A study of modern office space arrangements carried out by Steelcase revealed that approximately 17 per cent of all London workers use or have used hot desks or a similar flexible solution, such as co-working spaces. Since hot desks are usually provided at business centres, the main locations are those where there is a large percentage of office-based jobs, including:
- The City / Canary Wharf
- Midtown (Holborn and Bloomsbury)
- Westminster / West End
- Tech City and areas near Old Street (Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, and Farringdon)
- South London, mainly in Lambeth and Southwark
Typical costs and budgeting considerations
Business centres usually charge a fixed fee per desk space and allow workers to pay on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly basis, depending on their schedule and space needs. Other business centres or co-working spaces charge annual membership fees, and it is also possible to find fixed-fee hot desk packages that allow workers to use the space for a specific number of hours every week.
Typical costs are as follows:
- Canary Wharf / EC1 / The City: £300-£350 / month
- Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, Farringdon: up to £300 / month
- Midtown (including Holborn): some of the lowest packages at under £100 / month
- North London, Soho, and Islington: another affordable location with space available for less than £200 / month
- Angel and King's Cross: £200-£250 / month
- Westminster and Ealing: £25 / day or £150-£200 for up to 35 hours per week
- South London (Brixton, Clapham, Peckham): starting at £25 / day and hourly rates as low as £3
Professionals who are considering giving hot desking a try must also bear in mind that paying a deposit is not necessary. However, some business centres and co-working spaces may require that blocks of hours be prepaid.
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