How To Make Desk Hoteling Work for Everyone

by Glenn Hicks on August 4, 2020
How to Plan A Safer Workplace Now And In The Future

Many companies adopted hot desking years ago in hopes of improving space utilization, only to be faced with pushback from employees.

Now they’re considering desk hoteling instead. A desk hoteling reservation system offers flexibility for both employees and workplace leaders without the conflicts that come with the “free address” concept of hot desking.

At a time when many assigned seats are sitting empty, desk hoteling has a strong appeal. But as with any good idea, execution is what really counts.

If your employees have been burned by hot desking before and are reluctant to give up their assigned seats, here are four strategies to try.

4 strategies for successfully implementing desk hoteling

Consider both short-term and long-term planning

Realistically, the daily occupancy levels of your office will remain significantly lower than normal for at least the next few months. In the meantime, you still have the same overhead costs.

However, at some point, more employees will likely return to work. Stalled projects that were easier to work on in person will resume. Your hiring freeze will end, and your managers will want a place to meet new candidates in person.

But the days of having a predictably full office five days a week might be long gone.

That means your strategy for implementing desk hoteling should be flexible enough to accommodate different degrees of demand instead of just relying on average utilization. Analyzing the data from your desk hoteling reservation system will help you identify trends and detect patterns that make it easier to maximize utilization — without negatively impacting the employee experience. Having a handful of empty desks is much better than putting employees in uncomfortable situations because there are no available workspaces.

Consider secondary logistics

Of course, you need to consider your office layout along with the number of workspaces before adopting desk hoteling. But don’t forget to take into account new challenges that come with implementing a flexible seating arrangement.

For example, a lack of dedicated desks means employees will need somewhere to store their belongings. You might need to add shelves or closet space.

If your employees need a more secure place to keep personal items, intelligent lockers are another option. These are customizable electronic locker systems employees can use to securely store items or package deliveries during the day. They are ideal for a workplace with desk hoteling because they can be reserved, assigned, and reassigned by any employee throughout the work day.

Use the right technology for desk hoteling

The most integral element of successfully implementing an agile work environment is investing in the right technology.

Desk hoteling software combines the functionality of a room reservation solution with a user-friendly mobile app that allows employees to view interactive maps and instantly reserve available workspaces.

The software leverages integrations with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that measure occupancy to ensure the status of workspaces is always up-to-date, preventing double bookings and unused reservations.

Desk hoteling software can also connect to your company’s directory to make it easy for employees to find their coworkers. Employees can search for a colleague by name and easily find where they are working that day so they can work near them if they’re collaborating on an important project.

Start slowly and communicate often

Any significant change is likely to be met with some resistance. That’s why it’s so important to communicate the benefits of moving to a desk hoteling reservation system with employees before you make widespread changes.

For instance, although this means employees will be giving up their assigned seats, they won’t be expected to be in the office every day. They can simply reserve a workspace in advance or when they arrive. The fact that desk hoteling requires reservations makes it easier for you to plan ahead, so you can ensure your office is never too crowded and employees can always find a place to work.

Enlist help from key players — including your facility management team, IT, and HR — to help the rollout go smoothly.

You might even consider deploying desk hoteling in phases, starting with a small group of employees who frequently work remotely and don’t need assigned seats. Once you have them onboard, they can become your best advocates.

How to find the best desk hoteling software

When it comes to implementing a desk hoteling system, the right technology can make all the difference.

Look for desk hoteling software that is:

  • Cloud-based
  • Mobile
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to integrate with existing technology, such as space management and wayfinding software
  • Robust enough to give you the data you need to plan ahead

Desk hoteling software gives employees the flexibility they’ve always wanted while giving you unprecedented visibility into how your workplace is being used. With real-time space utilization data, you can make adjustments throughout the week — or even throughout the day.


Glenn Hicks

A member of the Business Development team, Glenn has years of experience with business process improvement on the Commercial Real Estate and Facilities Management sides.

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