In 2020 and 2021, most organizations have had to completely reconsider how they work and what the “average” workday looks like for their employees. For the first time, 37% of the UK’s workforce% of the UK's workforce was working from home at some stage during 2020.

Now, as the return to workplaces continues across the country, many employers are looking at long-term solutions and assessing their options when it comes to new, flexible solutions. This includes exploring hot desking, desk hoteling, and flexible working opportunities.

But what are the differences between these three solutions, and which of them may work best for your company? Here’s what you need to know.


Definitions: A Quick Glance

We'll go into more detail on each of the three working options below, but here are three quick definitions for time-sensitive readers:

Hot desking: This is a desk system where employees can sit at any desk they like when they arrive to work.

Desk hoteling: This is a desk system that involves an online tool where employees pick which desk they want before arriving.

Flexible working: These are a set of working terms agreed individually, or with all employees, such as flexible working hours or work from home days.


What Is Hot Desking?

The most popular of these three solutions is hot desking. The basic premise of hot desking is that no employee has their own desk to themselves. Instead, office workstations can be used by any employee at any time.

There are a few benefits to this work format:

  • Hot desking promotes collaboration and inspiration, as employees get to engage with a wider array of coworkers
  • Hot desking can decrease space utilisation overhead by minimising unused assign space in the office
  • It can increase productivity by allowing employees to choose the space that will work best to fit their needs
  • It can facilitate sanitation, social distancing and cleaning.

For a thorough examination into what hot desking is -- and its many benefits -- make sure to read through this Hot Desking 101 piece.


What Is Desk Hoteling And How Does It Differ From Hot Desking?

Desk hoteling is a similar concept to hot desking: no employee has their own desk and desks are shared between everyone at one workplace.

The main difference lies in how a workplace is managed. With traditional hot desking, employees arrive to work and choose their desks once they reach their office. With desk hoteling, on the other hand, a booking system is involved. This is why it's called hoteling, as it resembles the way in which you might book a hotel.

When employees want to book a space, they log on to a dedicated hot desk booking system so that they can book their desks before they arrive to work. This streamlines the process and helps ensure that employees can book a desk that meets their needs at any time.

That said, many modern offices are using desk hoteling management systems for hot desking and hoteling, making the two terms synonyms in practice. These ensure that all employees can securely book desks at any time.


What Is Flexible Working?

Flexible working is an agreement between an employer and employee on the terms of their working arrangement. Where the former two solutions refer to office management, then, the term “flexible working” refers to a specific employee.

This makes it less of a wide-reaching approach, as it's typically decided based on an employer's relationship with a particular employee. Examples of flexible working include:

  • An arrangement in which employees can arrive at the office any time before 11am
  • A plan that allows employees to finish early on Fridays
  • An engagement that lets employees work from home twice a week

This approach is sometimes referred to as hybridized working. This means that flexible working can be combined with hot desking or desk hoteling if desired.

Management Solutions With Hot Desking, Desk Hoteling And Flexible Working

The right space management tool can facilitate hot desking, desk hoteling and flexible working. A tool like EMS, in particular, provides an easy-to-use, centralized interface from which users can:

  • Access calendar information and invite participants
  • Enable self-service vide3o conferencing
  • Send email alerts to hosts and attendees if there’s a change
  • Get a look at room usage trends like who uses a space, for what reason and for how long
  • Connect with key tools like Office 365

This streamlines all hot desking and desk hoteling actions. It also allows employees with a flexible schedule to keep their teammates up-to-date about where they’ll be working and what their hours are. In the big picture, this kind of tool can also help avoid overcrowding, minimize real estate costs and streamline the hybrid work environment.


Where Can I Find Out More About These Software Solutions?

You should now know the key difference between hot desking and desk hoteling, as well as how flexible working fits into the equation. If you'd like to find out more about these software solutions, you can watch a demo at EMS today. Or if you have any questions, make sure to contact our experienced team directly.