Transitioning to a hot desking model can optimize office space and increase employee flexibility. However, determining the right number of desks to accommodate a flexible workforce can be challenging. In this article, we’ll outline a step-by-step approach to calculate the number of desks needed for hot desking in your office.

Wizu Workspace - Leeming Building Paid Workspace in Leeds

Step 1: Understand Your Workforce and Work Patterns

The first step is to gather detailed information about your workforce and their work patterns. Consider the following factors:

  1. Total Number of Employees: Know the total number of employees who will be using the office space.
  2. Work Schedules: Analyze employee work schedules to understand peak office usage times. This includes full-time, part-time, remote, and hybrid workers.
  3. Employee Attendance Rates: Estimate the average attendance rate. For instance, if employees typically work in the office 3 days a week, the attendance rate is approximately 60%.

Step 2: Analyze Space Utilization Data

Use space utilization data to understand current desk usage patterns. This data can be collected through:

  1. Workplace Surveys: Conduct surveys to gather information on how often employees use their desks and their preferences.
  2. Occupancy Sensors: Install sensors to track real-time desk usage and peak occupancy times.
  3. Desk Booking Systems: Analyze data from any existing desk booking software to identify trends and patterns.

Step 3: Determine Peak Usage

Identify the peak usage periods when the highest number of employees are in the office simultaneously. This helps in planning for the maximum number of desks required. For example:

  1. Daily Peaks: Identify the busiest days of the week.
  2. Hourly Peaks: Determine peak hours during the day.

Step 4: Calculate the Desk-to-Employee Ratio

Based on the information gathered, calculate the desk-to-employee ratio. This ratio indicates the number of desks needed per employee. A common starting point is to use a 0.8:1 ratio, meaning for every 10 employees, 8 desks are provided. However, this ratio can be adjusted based on your specific data.

Step 5: Apply a Buffer for Flexibility

Adding a buffer ensures that desks are available even during unexpected peaks. A typical buffer ranges from 10% to 20% of the calculated desks. For example, if your calculation suggests 80 desks, adding a 10% buffer would mean providing 88 desks.

Step 6: Consider Different Workspace Types

Not all work requires a traditional desk. Consider a mix of workspaces to cater to different needs:

  1. Quiet Zones: For focused work.
  2. Collaborative Areas: For team meetings and collaborative tasks.
  3. Breakout Spaces: For informal meetings or relaxation.

Step 7: Validate with a Pilot Program

Before fully implementing hot desking, run a pilot program to validate your calculations. Monitor desk usage during the pilot and adjust the number of desks as needed based on real-world data.

Step 8: Continuously Monitor and Adjust

Hot desking needs can change over time, so it’s essential to continuously monitor desk usage and adjust the number of desks accordingly. Use the following methods:

  1. Regular Surveys: Conduct regular employee surveys to get feedback on desk availability and preferences.
  2. Utilization Reports: Analyze ongoing data from desk booking systems and occupancy sensors.
Othership Desk Booking Software Analytics
Othership Desk Booking Software Analytics

Example Calculation

Let’s walk through an example calculation for an office with 100 employees.

  1. Total Number of Employees: 100
  2. Average Attendance Rate: 60% (employees work in the office 3 days a week)
  3. Estimated Peak Usage: 60 employees (60% of 100)

Assuming a desk-to-employee ratio of 0.8:1:

  • Number of Desks Needed: 60 employees x 0.8 = 48 desks

Adding a 10% buffer:

  • Total Desks Needed: 48 desks + 10% buffer (4.8 desks) = 53 desks

Considering different workspace types and a pilot program might lead to slight adjustments, but this provides a solid starting point.


Calculating the number of desks needed for hot desking involves understanding your workforce, analyzing space utilization data, and planning for peak usage with a buffer. By following these steps and continuously monitoring desk usage, you can create a flexible and efficient hot desking environment that meets your employees’ needs.

For more insights and tips on optimizing your workspace use the button below to get a free consultation.

Get a free consultation

Leave a Reply