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Optimal desk sharing ratio for effective hybrid work


May 16, 2023


October 5, 2023

Hybrid work models have presented many opportunities for businesses to optimize their office spaces. Companies can downsize their workspaces and the number of resources they are using while still maintaining their workforce. With a hybrid model, only half of the team has to come into the office at a given time, decreasing the use of space and energy. Not only does this contribute to sustainability, but it also saves costs. 

This guide will explore one of the most effective methods for optimizing office space: desk sharing. What is desk sharing, how can it benefit your business, and how can you successfully implement it in your office? Keep reading to find out!

What is desk sharing? 

Desk sharing: defined 

The term desk sharing is self-explanatory. It quite literally means the sharing of desks in the workplace. However, it does not imply that two people are sitting at the same desk at the same time. Instead, two employees use the same desk at different times of the day or week. This is common in hybrid work settings, where only some employees visit the office daily. Instead of assigning each person a desk and being left empty when that person is away from the office, desk sharing ensures the desk is occupied to fully utilize the office space available. 

Desk sharing became increasingly popular after the height of the pandemic. As hybrid work models rose in popularity, so did the concept of desk sharing. Also referred to as hot desking, this concept helps drive efficiency in flexible working environments. 

What is the correct desk-sharing ratio?

A desk-sharing ratio denotes how many people are using one desk. For example, if two people are using the same desk at different times throughout the week, this ratio would be 2:1. Traditionally, in offices where employees come in every day, the balance is 1:1. But, as the work of work has evolved, embracing flexible and remote models, these ratios will naturally shift. 

For remote-first businesses, fixed desks are unnecessary and would likely not be an optimal use of space. Instead, shared desks would help maximize the benefits of hybrid work, like costs and energy savings, which we will discuss in further detail in the next section. 

But how can business leaders determine what the proper desk-sharing ratio is? How many desks are actually needed? And, what is the fewest number of desks that can be made available at a time without hindering employees from coming into the office and collaborating?

The most essential elements to consider are the size of your team, their roles, how often they spend in the office, and the projected growth of this team. 

➡️ Try our hybrid office cost calculator to asses your desk/employee ratio and find out how much you can save using deskbird.

The benefits of desk sharing

Helps your business become more sustainable 

One of desk sharing’s many benefits is that it can help create a more sustainable business. With the discourse surrounding climate change, organizations are becoming more conscious of the resources and energy they consume. 

If desks are shared, fewer desks are needed. Similarly, fewer desks mean less office space is used. So, not only are fewer resources being used, but also reducing office space means using less energy overall. A smaller office space uses less electricity and water and requires less maintenance. 

Additionally, younger generations, such as Millennials and Gen-Z, want to work for companies that align with their values, and sustainability is top of mind for many of these young workers. To attract employees, committing to more environmentally conscious practices is critical.

Saves on business costs 

Piggy-backing off of the improvements in sustainability, desk sharing also helps save on business costs. As mentioned in the previous section, less energy and resources are used, and less office space is needed. With rising rent costs in most major cities, the ability to downsize office space will significantly impact your bottom line. Imagine being able to half or simply quarter the price you are paying for office space.

The savings are likely significant. With smaller office space and fewer resources, businesses can save up to 30% on ancillary costs, like water and heating.

➡️ Read our article about office space downsizing to learn about this cost-saving strategy.

Allows for implementation of flexible work models 

A working model in which two or more employees share the same desks allows for more flexibility in scheduling. If your business promotes sharing desks, not every person has to come to the office daily. This gives your team greater flexibility and autonomy, increasing employee satisfaction and retention. 

For example, desk sharing integrates perfectly with hybrid work models, which give employees the flexibility to work from home some days and from the office on others. In turn, the company can benefit from the advantages of hybrid work models, such as greater work-life balance and increased productivity. 

The key here is coordination. Leaders and employees need to know who is coming into the office and when so that they can schedule desks accordingly. The following section will dive deeper into successfully implementing desk sharing with coordinated hybrid work. 

How to implement desk sharing 

Develop a hybrid work model

The first step to implementing desk sharing is to develop a hybrid work model for your business.

The model type will differ depending on your company and the employee’s needs. You can choose between a fixed or flexible model and a remote-first or office-first model.

- A fixed model means that employees are required to be in the office on certain days of the week.

- In contrast, a flexible model implies that individuals can choose which days they want to come in.

- And a remote-first model means that most days are spent working from home, while an office-first model suggests the opposite.

Models can differ depending on the industry and even by a team within a specific organization. Some roles require more hands-on work or in-person collaboration than others, which needs to be considered. Be sure to include your team in the development process and allow them to give feedback about which type of hybrid model would suit them best. Survey them regularly to better understand how their mental health, productivity, and overall satisfaction and being affected. 

Implement workplace technology 

As mentioned in the previous section, desk sharing requires coordination. Without knowing which desks are occupied and when the right amount of spaces may not be available when needed. Imagine coming to the office expecting to sit at your desk just to commute to find someone else sitting there. That would be immensely frustrating and greatly hinder productivity. So, to ensure employee satisfaction, workplace technology must be implemented to help coordinate hybrid schedules. 

desk booking software, like deskbird, would allow employees to book desks ahead of time and get an overview of where each person is sitting each day. Not only will this avoid clashes, but it will ensure that team members can meet in person to collaborate when needed and have a suitable space to do so. Using analytics, a desk booking system will also give employers a clear idea of what resources are being used and if their space is genuinely optimized. With this knowledge, businesses can downsize if they need to or re-allocate resources and space to fulfill employee needs. 

👋 Start a free trial of the deskbird app and give your employees more flexibility with workspace booking and week planning!

Research from deskbird has shown that well-coordinated hybrid work can win your employees up to a day of productivity each week! Additionally, it improves employee satisfaction. The same research also proves that employees are happier when they know who else is in the office when they come in. No coordination of hybrid work leads to a drop in employee happiness by up to 40%. 

➡️ Read our complete guide to employee happiness to get tips on keeping your workforce satisfied.

Determine a desk-sharing ratio 

You can begin calculating the desk-sharing ratio for your business using the size of your team, their roles, how often they spend in the office, and the projected growth of the team.

The larger your team, the more desks are needed. While this is obvious, the equation gets complicated when this large team is highly distributed.

For example, you may have 500 employees using your office, but only 200 of them come to the office weekly. This would require the same number of desks as a business with 200 employees who come to work daily. So, not only do you have to consider your team size, but also how often they go into the office. Additionally, you need to be aware of their roles and their need for collaboration. For example, those on more collaborative or innovative teams must come in more frequently. Finally, as your team grows, so does the need for desks. So, when developing your ideal desk-sharing ratio, keep projected business growth in mind to ensure you can accommodate new joiners. 

Desk sharing can help your business save costs by downsizing your workspace without downsizing your team. Optimize your space and resources by implementing a flexible model that gives employees the space they need on the days they need it most. With a well-coordinated desk-sharing system, you can boost employee productivity and satisfaction!

Want to manage your hybrid workplace today and develop an organized desk-sharing model?

Request a free demo of the deskbird app and take the first step towards a more productive, satisfied, and engaged workforce.