/ (ˈdɛskɪŋ) /
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the practice of not assigning permanent desks in a workplace, so that employees may work at any available desk
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012


What does hot-desking mean?

Hot-desking is a workplace practice in which employees use whichever desk or workstation is available, instead of permanently being assigned their own, as is typical.

Some companies, especially large ones, use hot-desking in their offices for various reasons. Sometimes, it’s done because it’s believed to save costs. For example, if certain employees work at different times, they may be able to take turns using the same desk and computer—allowing the company to cut down on equipment costs. Sometimes, hot-desking is claimed to promote teamwork and improve office morale—you get to interact with a greater variety of people. But a lot of people hate it, and it has faced criticism from employees and business analysts (notably but not limited to: where are you supposed to put your kitten calendar?).

Hot-desking is also the continuous (-ing) tense of the verb hot-desk, meaning to implement or engage in such a system. An employer that uses hot-desking or an employee participating in it can be called a hot-desker.

Example: The worst part about hot-desking is that I have no space to call my own.

Where does hot-desking come from?

The first records of the term hot-desking come from the early 1990s. The term (and the practice) may have been influenced by the earlier slang term hotbed, referring to a bed, such as in a cheap lodging house, shared by two or more persons in shifts, each sleeping in it at a designated time and then vacating it for the next occupant. A similar term and practice associated with the Navy is hot bunking, in which sailors working different shifts alternate using the same bunk.

In most modern offices, each employee is assigned their own permanent desk, office, or cubicle that they always use (and can decorate and clutter as they see fit). Hot-desking gets rid of the “assigned seats” approach and instead uses something more like a “first come, first served” system, in which employees can choose whichever desk is available when they show up to work.

It’s typically intended to cut costs, reduce equipment, free up space, and promote teamwork. But hot-desking is frequently criticized with charges that it doesn’t actually save money and that it decreases efficiency.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to hot-desking?

  • hot-desk (verb)
  • hot-desker (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with hot-desking

What are some words that often get used in discussing hot-desking?

How is hot-desking used in real life?

Employees often have mixed feelings about hot-desking. Some hate it and some really hate it.



Try using hot-desking​!

True or False?

In hot-desking, multiple employees work at the same desk at the same time.

How to use hot-desking in a sentence