Hot desking software – in short, a system that allows employees to book a desk to use for the day – has been on the rise lately. For many, this trend is shocking, and observe it with disbelief. How did that happen? How did hot desking, from one of the worst employee workplace experiences, become one of the hottest topics and so many companies are adopting it at the moment?

Many of you may have seen these old-school kiosk solutions where people arrive at the office and book a random desk somewhere on the map. The main reason for companies and facility managers to adopt such a solution was to reduce the real estate footprint. Hot desking used to be a cost-cutting technique often associated with very low-margin businesses looking for savings. Well, not anymore!

Hot desking systems, in combination with office hoteling systems, of the future are now part of hybrid workplace experience platforms that provide endless flexibility to employees, a better grip on the hybrid work policies adoption to leaders, and last but not least, improved space utilization to organizations.

Why has Hot desking become so hot?

Hot desking is a desk-sharing workplace strategy in which employees don’t have their individual desks. Instead, each person can use a different desk whenever they are in the office, depending on the availability and arrangement for that specific day. Sometimes it’s referred to as ‘desk sharing’ or ‘desk hoteling’, though there are differences between these terms. You can read our complete guide on Hot desking if you want to dig deeper into its benefits.

The concept rose to prominence with the growing popularity of the hybrid work model. Many companies turn to hot desking for practical reasons, considering the increasing number of employees working from home and occasionally coming to the office. Businesses end up with a bunch of empty desks on a daily basis — while they still have to pay for renting a large office space and covering overhead costs.

From a less practical point of view, though, the big shift to adopting a hot desking system is similar to the rising of Zoom. Zoom started as yet another video conferencing solution in a market that’s been dominated by big players and very big systems.

We still remember the conference call systems and the first generation of online video conferencing tools. They were horrible to use! Real bad.

Related read: 8 Must-Have Hot Desking Accessories In 2023

Zoom made the experience for people talking online 10x better. It’s easier to use, it’s working and it’s a pleasant experience. They’ve already been riding the wave of flexible working when the pandemic hit us and amplified this trend by a huge factor. They had the right technology at the right moment.

The same is happening at the moment with workplace flexibility and hot desking systems. The new wave of hot desking software platforms is easy to use and offers a great work experience to people.

What is hot desking software?

The most important element of the hot desking software is the workspace booking system. In most cases though, it is part of a larger hybrid workplace management platform.

Let’s decompose these two.

Hot desk booking systems allow employees to easily book workspaces for a day, or a week, or maybe make it recurring following a pattern. The most important part of the process is to make the booking experience fully integrated into the technology stack of the organization.

For example, if you’re using Microsoft, then your hot desk booking software should be available in Teams, Microsoft 365, as well as Outlook. If you’re using Google, then the workspace scheduling platform should be fully integrated with Google Calendar, Google Workspace, or Google Chrome.

Other essential elements are a web portal and easy to use mobile app. Together, all of these systems and integrations will increase the adoption and improve the experience, therefore, the benefits you can gain from utilizing hot desking.

You need such software if you plan on implementing activity-based working, too. Here’s an article that explains the differences as well as the major pros and cons of activity-based working vs hot desking.

What is a hot desk app?

An easy-to-use hot desk mobile app is an essential part of every hot desk booking software. Usually, most hot desking apps are allowing employees to reserve a desk in an office and enable employees to collaborate safely on-site. Some of the key features of such mobiles apps are:

  1. Desk finder – determine which desks are available to book, permanently assigned, or unavailable to maintain social distancing.
  2. Desk booking – employees can book a desk for the day or in advance right from their mobile app. They have the flexibility to choose where to sit, depending on what they need to get done that day.
  3. Smart features – using a more advanced hot desking app will allow you to pre-configure neighborhoods so teammates can work near each other to collaborate. Furthermore, some systems will automatically seat employees by function, activity, or based on historical data while still giving them the flexibility to change their desk if needed.

Workplace reservation apps are key to improving the overall employee workplace experience by simplifying the finding and booking workspaces process.

What is Hybrid workplace software?

As mentioned, the hot desk booking software oftentimes is part of a larger workplace platform. Some of the other important elements you can expect from such a solution are:

  • Meeting Room booking system; Usually, when the hot desk app is integrated with your meeting room scheduling system, you can significantly improve the employee experience. This way, people can book a desk, conference room, or parking space within the same app.
  • Health and safety; Hot desking is shared working, so some people might feel uncomfortable in terms of health and safety. A good hybrid work software will let you track presence, ensure cleaning procedures or enforce limits on the number of people in the office.
  • Visitor management and reception app; Integrating your hot desk software with a nice reception app can also improve the workplace experience.
  • Workplace management; One of the core modules of every workplace platform is managing your office assets, floorplans, desks, rooms, parking spots, and any other resources available.
  • Workplace analytics; By implementing hot desking software, you will be able to measure, analyze and gain insights into your space utilization.
  • Extensibility and APIs; Last but not least, all organizations are different, so you may want to extend and customize your hybrid work software via public APIs.

A well-integrated hot desk booking solution can enhance the workplace experience for employees, and streamline internal operations, by bringing everything work-related into one solution.

With such software, you can also create office hoteling policies with ease.

How to Get Started with hot desk booking software?

The new generation of hot desk booking solutions are very simple to get started with. One of the first steps, before you dive into the world of software, is to explore the different options and examples of how hot desking policies are implemented in some of the fastest-moving organizations. I’m sure you will get inspired by some of these templates. Once you’re ready to choose a system, here’s our list of the more important elements you should be aware of:

  1. How quickly you can get going with uploading and making your floorplans and resources bookable?
  2. How easy it is to configure and set hot desk booking rules?
  3. Can you easily customize and white-label the mobile, web, and integrated experience for your employees?
  4. Can you easily connect your Microsoft Active Directory or Google Workspace Directory and sync your employees?
  5. How easy it is to get hit the go-live button and allow your employees to access the platform?

The usual onboarding period for a modern hot desk booking system should be no more than 14 days.

The easiest way to start is by talking to one of our workplace experts about OfficeRnD HybridYou can book a time slot here. Or you can try it yourself by starting a free trial!

Happy hot desking! We hope to see you all collaborating in the real life.

Miro Miroslavov
CEO and Co-founder of OfficeRnD
Miro Miroslavov is a software engineer turned into a tech entrepreneur. In 2015 he co-founded OfficeRnD - a leading flex space and hybrid work management platform. As a CEO at OfficeRnD, he grew the company from inception to a leading software vendor that serves thousands of customers worldwide. He is a big fan of flexible working and is on a mission to "Making Flexible Working the Way of Working".