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Four Tips for Streamlining the Hot-Desk Shuffle

Matt Villano

Veteran road warriors and longtime hot-deskers say there is a way to streamline gear and minimize the equipment you have to tote around when you’re working from anywhere (and everywhere).

Hot-desking, like most innovations of modern work, can be both a blessing and a curse.

The upside: Without being tethered to an office, workers can essentially create a workplace just about any place they go — coworking spaces like THRIVE, coffee shops, hotel bars and more.

The downside: Despite the freedoms of where and when, hot-desking can become laborious if you have to schlep computers, chargers and assorted peripherals in and out of backpacks or messenger bags all the time.

Veteran road warriors and longtime hot-deskers say there is a way to streamline gear and minimize the equipment you must tote around to get the job done. Their advice oddly mirrors the low-impact philosophy about camping and enjoying the great outdoors — in a nutshell, it’s travel lightly and mindfully.

Here, in no particular order, are some suggestions for quite literally lightening your load.

Tip 1: Cut the cords

Face it: One of the biggest drags of remote work is the need to lug around a bunch of different chargers and connecting cords along with the devices themselves. One solution to this problem is going entirely wireless, by embracing Bluetooth across the board. Common Bluetooth upgrades include headphones, mice and speakers. Depending on your profession, other wireless accessories may be available.

Word to the wise. While ditching the corded versions of these items may free up space in your work bag, it also behooves you to be vigilant about charging them at home so you don’t find yourself in a situation where you run out of battery during an important interview or meeting.

Tip 2: Buy wisely

The first way to streamline your hot-desking experience is to invest in equipment that allows you to do so. This means upgrading that clunky (and heavy) old laptop. It also means potentially investing in a cell phone with a battery that keeps a charge, as well as other battle-tested equipment. Many of these upgrades could be considered cutting-edge. Some, however, are as basic as can be.

Spencer Spellman, a content creator who hot-desked for years at coworking locations in Los Angeles and Portland, says he loves using his iPad with a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard for maximum mobility.

“[This combination] is a new one for me, and it has been clutch as a backup computer and/or second screen,” Spellman wrote in a recent email. “It’s especially handy if I need to use one of the coworking phone booths, because it’s difficult to get an external monitor to fit in there.”

Tip 3: Play TSA

Another great way to keep hot-desking simple is to physically limit the amount of stuff you can take with you when you work. Here, a wise strategy is to downsize your work bag, then force yourself to take only the equipment that fits inside. Depending on the bag you choose, you may only be able to take a laptop. If you get a bigger bag, you might have the option of adding a peripheral or two such as headphones or a USB fan.

Lambeth Hochwald, a freelance writer and adjunct college professor in New York, says she always packs for the commute instead of the hot-desking setup. She adds that while this exercise often prompts her to make tough choices about what to take, it also makes the decision process very straightforward, since she doesn’t have that many choices.

“If I can’t take it with me on the subway, it’s not coming,” she says. “Why complicate it more than that?”

Tip 4: Ditch the print

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when every computer in America was tethered (either literally or virtually) to a printer. Today, however, the truth is that workers don’t need printers at all.

Ditching the idea of a printer is another way to streamline the hot-desk experience. And with coworking spaces offering a certain amount of free or low-cost virtual printing as part of standard membership packages, there’s a good chance you don’t even need one anymore.

Be sure to check the fine print of any coworking agreement before ditching your printer altogether; it also may be worth holding on to your old printer at home, or investing in a new wireless printer so that even when you’re away you can send files to the queue back at the ranch.

Written by Matt Villano

September 16, 2022

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