How to Hot Desk

A British city has saved $750,000 dollars by 'hot desking,' which sounds randy, but is really just a shared desk approach.


What Happened?

A British city of 250,000, which has 14,000 staffers, saved £500,000, or $750,000 U.S. dollars, by reviewing its software licensing and implementing a ‘hot desk’ approach, in which staff share work stations. This approach is also sometimes called “desktop virtualization,” because the users own a “configuration,” not an actual machine.

The Backstory

Plymouth City Council is the largest council on England’s southern coast. The council, which is analogous to a U.S. town government, delivers more than 300 services to residents of Plymouth.

The city, which had been looking to cut unnecessary costs, was considering the consolidation of office space, closing smaller offices, and even reviewing the computers and software being used by city employees.

The Move

In making organizational changes, the Council realized that it could reduce the number of desktop computers from 4,000 to 3,200, and—by upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7—implement a ‘hot desk’ strategy that was more efficient, and secure; before then, employees all had their own computers configured for their own use.

The Steps

Using a third party called Trustmarque, the town began rolling out the upgrade in phases, starting with departments such as HR and Finance. Testing occurred at all stages, and the city got weekly updates from Trustmarque on the progress of the upgrade.

The Benefits

In addition to the £500,000 in savings, the Plymouth City Council no longer has to do fresh builds for every device. According to a report in Computer Business Review, the city took several days to add new devices; now it takes a matter of hours. In addition, ongoing management of devices is simplified through one configuration.

But the best benefit may be the ‘hot desking,’ which enables employees to work faster and more efficiently; the employees are assigned configurations, not devices, so they can use any machine they need. The move also cut down on the number of machines it needed.

Next Steps

For additional information on the move at Plymouth, read the original article in Computer Business Review. Some additional resources:

  • The company that did the work for Plymouth is Trustmarque. You can access a case study on their work for Plymouth, which utilized the firm's benchmarking service.
  • A white paper from Microsoft on hot desking, sometimes known as “desktop virtualization,” can be found here.
  • A quick case study from another British example, the Manchester Primary Care Trust, can be found here.

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