Hotdesking and laptops

Avatar for rewt


I have just started a PhD in engineering in a UK university. Over the summer the department changed policy from all PhD students having a fixed desk to hot desking, so they are still figuring it out.

I have no issue with hotdesking except most of the desks are just a desk, monitor, keyboard and mouse, no actual computer. With the expectation that we bring a laptop. There are some high-end workstations available however priority is given for people doing high-end simulations. So if you want to work in a quiet area at university you need to lug your laptop (and mine is rather heavy) to and back from uni every day. Is it usual to have hot desks without workstations?

The students that started before September were provided with a laptop from a central fund. On my first day, the PhD coordinator said that all the new starts are getting laptops. However, it is becoming more likely (from many internal rumours) that if the new starts want a laptop it is coming out of their bench fees, as they dont have the money to give new starts a free laptop. Were the previous students just lucky to get free laptops? I know I can use my laptop in PhD hot desking area but I am without the full range of software that is on a university workstation/laptop. And using communal undergraduate workstations is possible, I lose the advantage of working with colleagues.

I dont see the point in giving previous students a free laptop, then not buying workstations and then expecting us to use bench fees for a laptop so we can effectively use the PhD hot desking area. They could have bought workstations with the laptop money and everything would be easier and fairer.

TL;DR Is it common for hotdesking areas to be without workstations and what is the laptop policy with bench fees for you?


You appear to be complaining a lot for someone who has just started their PhD.
You have a suitable laptop for your PhD. If you dont, upgrade, get the software you need and get on with it.
It's a shame the university might be changing how they operate the free laptop policy but this is the world of work for you. Funding changes and what was once promised suddenly doesn't materialise. Get used to it. You have 45 years or so of this in front of you.

You need to start maturing quickly because if this sort of trivial nonsense bothers you, the PhD will rip your soul to shreds before you are done.


It's becoming increasingly normal for PhD students to hot desk, or so I'm led to believe. At my uni, we all have desks in offices, but we are running out of space and hot desking is being discussed. I've heard at other unis laptops are given out. As pm133 put it so eloquently, you've no option but to just get on with it.

Avatar for Pjlu

This practice is also becoming very common in the workplace as well. There are mixed reactions to this-some love it-others are distressed by not having a specific space and the change in practice. Having a lighter laptop definitely helps when you are basically carrying around your work station around with you.

I know this won't be cheerful news but it is likely to become more common rather than less. Happening at universities, happening in schools and libraries and also in many workplaces, where sharing facilities and space are on the increase. And when new buildings and refurbishments are occurring, hot spotting and community spaces are being installed.


I'm kind of the opposite. Having worked in the public sector for 11 years prior to starting my PhD last month I have always been in open plan offices with clear desk and hot desking policies. - And yes, that means lugging your laptop around with you (although my last place provided very small lockers).

Now, I'm in an office with 8 desks which I occupy more or less by myself. The first two weeks I was going crazy by myself! It takes some adjustment but you get used to the situations eventually. For busy hot desking areas I very much recommend investing in a pair of good quality headphones.

I'm currently using my personal laptop, which is OK, but not ideal, my 30 day Endnote licence is about to run out. :-( I'm only getting a work laptop because it was budgeted for in the grant money for my project - It was finally ordered last week so hopefully will turn up at some point!


I find hot desking so distressing that it did play a role in my decision which PhD to go for. I hate not having my own (little!) space and would be stressing out every day if I will have a place to sit. Where do you keep your files, food etc.
I know its getting more popular as it saves a space but I will avoid it for as long as I can.

I have a work laptop but this was budgeted for from my grant. Could you ask your supervisor to get you one so you dont have to drag your own?


sorry "monitor, keyboard and mouse, no actual computer." - why have a monitor, keyboard and museum but no computer?? Mind boggles here.


Quote From Trilla:
sorry "monitor, keyboard and mouse, no actual computer." - why have a monitor, keyboard and museum but no computer?? Mind boggles here.

I think you are supposed to connect your laptop to it? One of my issues with working at home is the small screen compared to the two I have at work. I use a mouse with my laptop as well.


Thank you Tree of life, you are a Tree of Knowledge :)