The benefits and drawbacks of desk sharing at work

Desk sharing at work has proven to be beneficial to both employees and employers, but it does come with some challenges. We explore some of the benefits and drawbacks of desk sharing in the modern workplace, but before we do that, let’s dive into what desk sharing is in the first place.

What is desk sharing at work?

Desk sharing at work, or in an office means that employees do not have a permanent, designated desk. Instead, employees that come into the office will reserve a particular desk each day, for that one day only.

Companies may differ slightly in their systems to allow employees to reserve a desk for different periods, like a few hours, or a whole week. But most commonly, the system is used to reserve a desk for one day at a time.

Some companies use a formal booking system, like Joan Desk Booking system, that allows employees to book a specific desk for a certain day. Others simply allow employees to come in and find an empty desk when they arrive.

However, the latter approach can result in wasted time spent looking for an open desk. In addition, employees may come into the office only to find that there are no desks available.

Desk sharing at work (pros and cons) - Joan Workplace

The benefits of desk sharing at work

Optimal use of space

Desk sharing at work allows companies to cut down on desk space and use desks more economically. They can keep the number of desks down to a minimum to cater to what their workforce needs. This cuts down on real estate costs and office furniture expenses.

Taking this approach is especially beneficial for companies working with a hybrid work-from-home model that either allows the employees to choose when they come into the office or that have schedules to rotate employees coming in.


This setup provides flexibility for employees. They can find a desk that suits their working needs for the day.

For example, if there is a group project that needs to be done, members of that group can find desks next to each other for the duration of the project.

Minimal clutter

When an employee has a permanent designated desk, there can often be a buildup of clutter over time. Whether it’s mugs, old documents, stationery, or food products, a cluttered workspace can be distracting.

With desk sharing at work, employees have to pack up their belongings every day.

Increases sociability

In larger offices, having a permanent desk often means that employees will form closer bonds with those situated at desks around them.

Desk sharing at work allows workers to interact with different people each day. This helps build social skills and forms a closer workforce overall.

The drawbacks of desk sharing

No personal touches

Having a permanent desk means employees can add their personal effects to the space, such as photographs, posters, calendars, etc.

Desk sharing at work eliminates this, as employees have to pack up every item by the end of the day. This may make the space feel more unfamiliar.

Time wasting

Arriving at the office and going to a permanent desk is usually effortless. Your employees will already have all their necessities permanently set up there.

With desk sharing at work, there is a process of finding an available desk, unpacking belongings, and then acclimatizing to the new environment. This can take up some time that could have been used for more productive means.

Lack of cleanliness

Sharing desks can be challenging when it comes to hygiene, as the desk will need to be properly sanitized before someone new takes over it.

Cleaning products, such as sanitizers and wipes, should be provided and employees should be instructed to clean the desk when they’re finished using it.

Poor adaptability

In some instances, desk sharing at work can lack adaptability. For example, an employee may receive a last-minute assignment that requires brainstorming or group work.

However, if they have reserved a desk that has occupied surrounding desks, they may not be able to congregate with team members in the workspace as they may clash with other employees who need a quiet area.

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What is the difference between desk sharing and hot desking at work?

he terms “desk sharing” and “hot desking” are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings.

Desk sharing means multiple employees share the same desk at different times. This setup is usually organized, with specific desks assigned to certain groups of employees who use them based on a schedule. It works well in places where employees have set schedules, like part-time workers or those who only come to the office occasionally.

Hot desking, however, is more flexible. Employees do not have assigned desks; they pick any available desk when they arrive each day. This system suits dynamic offices with employees coming in and out at different times. Hot desking encourages spontaneous interactions and collaboration across different teams.

The main differences are in structure and flexibility. Desk sharing is more predictable, with assigned desks and scheduled use. Hot desking offers more freedom, with no assigned seating and varied daily interactions. Desk sharing is ideal for workplaces with predictable attendance, while hot desking fits better in dynamic environments.

Read more about hot desking on this link.

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Desk sharing at work may have some challenges, but for the most part, it is a modern technique that encourages minimalistic practice in the office and saves money and resources in the long run.

It also allows flexibility for the employees to move around to suit their working needs and encourages more socializing in the workplace to form a closer workforce.

If you’re interested in implementing desk sharing in your workplace, be sure to check out Joan today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I set up a shared desk?

Setting up a shared desk can be a relatively straightforward process, but it does require some planning and preparation. Here are some steps you can take to set up a shared desk in your office:

  • Determine the number of shared desks needed: Based on the size of your office and the number of employees, determine how many shared desks you will need. Make sure to consider factors such as the number of employees who work remotely or travel frequently, and the number of employees who need to be in the office at the same time.
  • Choose the location of the shared desks: Select the location of the shared desks based on factors such as natural light, proximity to common areas, and accessibility. It’s important to consider the ergonomics and comfort of the space for the employees.
  • Purchase and set up the necessary furniture and equipment: Purchase or rent the necessary furniture and equipment for the shared desks, such as desks, chairs, and filing cabinets. Make sure that the furniture is comfortable, ergonomic, and easily adjustable.
  • Choose a desk a reservation system like Joan Desk: Create a system for employees to reserve a shared desk in advance, this can be done through software or apps. This can help to ensure that there are always enough desks available for employees who need them.
  • Establish rules and guidelines: Create guidelines for the use of shared desks, such as how to reserve a desk, how to clean and organize a desk, and how to share common spaces.
  • Communicate the shared desk system to all employees: Communicate the shared desk system to all employees, including how it works, how to reserve a desk, and the rules and guidelines. Make sure that all employees understand the benefits and how to use the system.
  • Monitor and evaluate the shared desk system: Monitor and evaluate the shared desk system to ensure it is working as intended and make any necessary adjustments.
How do I manage my desk share?

Managing a shared desk system can be challenging, but with the right approach, it can be done effectively. Here are some tips on how to manage a shared desk system:

  • Set up a reservation system like Joan Desk booking: Set up a system for employees to reserve a shared desk in advance, this can be done through software or apps. This can help to ensure that there are always enough desks available for employees who need them.
  • Create clear rules and guidelines: Establish clear rules and guidelines for the use of shared desks, such as how to reserve a desk, how to clean and organize a desk, and how to share common spaces. Make sure that all employees are aware of the rules and guidelines.
  • Monitor and enforce the rules: Regularly monitor the shared desks to ensure that the rules and guidelines are being followed. If necessary, take action to enforce the rules, such as reminding employees of the rules or reassigning desks.
  • Encourage responsible use: Encourage employees to take responsibility for the shared desks by reminding them to clean and organize their desks after use.
  • Keep track of usage: Keep track of the usage of the shared desks and make adjustments as necessary. For example, if a certain shared desk is in high demand, consider adding another shared desk in that area.
  • Provide training and support: Provide training and support to employees to help them understand how to use the shared desk system and how to make the most of the shared workspace.
  • Be flexible with the shared desk system and be open to feedback. Continuously monitor and make adjustments to the system as needed.
What is workspace sharing?

Workspace sharing refers to the practice of sharing a physical workspace, such as an office or a co-working space, among multiple individuals or organizations. It can take several forms, such as:

  • Hot desking: A system where employees can use any available desk or workstation on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Desk sharing: A system where employees are assigned a specific desk or workstation, but it can be shared with others when not in use.
  • Co-working spaces: A shared workspace where individuals or organizations from different industries or businesses can work together in a shared environment.
  • Shared office space: A facility where multiple businesses or organizations share a physical office space, which may include common areas, conference rooms, and other amenities.
  • Workspace sharing can offer a number of benefits, such as cost savings, increased flexibility, and the opportunity to collaborate with other individuals or organizations. However, it can also present challenges, such as the need to manage competing demands for resources and the potential for disruptions to the work environment. Workspace sharing can also be a great way to reduce the environmental footprint by reducing real estate and energy consumption.

It’s important to establish clear guidelines and expectations for the use of shared resources and to implement a system like Joan Desk booking.