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Workplaces have been adopting flexible space strategies like office hoteling for years, but the pandemic solidified the business case for these new ways of working.
In a recent CBRE Future of the Office survey, 66% of mid-sized companies and 80% of large enterprises described their future workplace policy as "hybrid guided flexibility," meaning employees will divide their time between home and the office.
An earlier CBRE survey conducted in September 2020 also showed that while 57% of workplaces had primarily assigned seating prior to the pandemic, only 10% plan to continue that model in the future. The rest are adopting some level of unassigned seating or "free address" seating arrangements, meaning employees can choose from a variety of workspaces each day.
Office hoteling gives structure to unassigned seating, making it easier for employees to find available spaces and for leaders to plan accordingly. Here's why smart workplaces everywhere are implementing it.
Office hoteling is a reservation-based style of office management where employees schedule their use of workspaces (including desks, cubicles, equipment, and conference rooms) before they arrive at the office. Just as they would make reservations at their favorite hotel, employees use a mobile app to find and reserve space, then check in upon arrival.
A hoteling office space gives employees the flexibility to choose where they want to sit, depending on the work they're doing that day and who they may need to collaborate with.
Here are seven reasons your workplace should adopt office hoteling.
For employees who already work remotely most of the time, office hoteling encourages them to visit “home base” every once in a while. It gets them into the office, mingling face to face with coworkers and management, and spending time immersed in their organization’s culture. Likewise, if employees don’t already telecommute, adopting office hoteling will make it easier for them to do so.
We’ve all experienced that one coworker whose time is more valuable than anyone else’s, whose deadline is more pressing, and who hoards shared office equipment and supplies in their workspace. An office hoteling system evens the playing field and provides management with greater control over workspaces, equipment, and other resources to ensure all employees have fair access to what they need, when they need it. For example, if a team member has a big print job scheduled for the day, they can reserve the workstation closest to the copy room.
One of the biggest frustrations of hot desking is that employees claim desks on a first-come, first-served basis, with no reservations required.
When space and resources aren’t being allocated based on rank and instead are available to all employees as needed, people are more inclined to collaborate with one another — and the coveted “team mentality” all modern organizations are striving to develop occurs organically.
Not all employees require the same workspace to reach their peak productivity level. Some prefer quiet, independent space. Some do best in group settings or amid the bustle and energy of an active, open office. And others like a variation of the two, depending on the task at hand. Office hoteling is one way organizations can provide their employees with the option to choose.
Why assign a permanent desk to an employee who spends a majority of their time working from home or on the road? An office hoteling system eliminates unnecessary workspaces and enables organizations to reduce the overall square footage needed to support their workforce. With real-time insight into desk utilization, you can potentially reduce the number of individual workspaces you have and update your office space to include more common areas or meeting rooms.
You can also use this data to optimize your real estate strategy. If you're planning to hire 50 new employees in one region but the existing office has an average utilization of only 50%, you may be able to avoid leasing additional space.
If your organization can reduce its square footage, it can also reduce its rent, energy consumption, and utility costs. The less you spend on rent and utilities, the more capital you can reinvest back into the business.
Assigned desks tend to become magnets for clutter. Employees pile on personal belongings like extra jackets and dishes and sometimes leave them there for weeks, even if they don't come into the office every day. This makes it more difficult for your janitorial staff to clean and sanitize those spaces.
Office hoteling significantly reduces clutter because employees only bring what they need for that day and store it somewhere else or take it with them. If you're considering implementing this strategy, make sure you have some dedicated spaces for people to securely store their belongings. A smart locker system is great because employees can unlock them with individual codes via a mobile app.
The gig economy is expanding, with over a third of employees relying on contract work for either their primary or secondary job. As your company relies more on contractors and consultants, an office hoteling system helps you easily scale up or down. This is especially important if your business has seasonal fluctuations or you're planning to hire a number of contract workers for a specific project.
To successfully implement office hoteling, you'll need to update both your policies and your technology. First, you'll need a clear policy that outlines expectations, including which employees are required to be in the office based on the work they do and when. If you need to limit capacity in the office or you don't have enough workspaces to accommodate everyone on a daily basis, employees may need to reserve desks at least a day in advance. If availability isn't an issue, they may be able to reserve them upon arrival. Office hoteling software is essential for managing these reservations.
The best solutions for office hoteling are mobile and easy for employees to use. They should also integrate with the systems your workplace already uses, including space management software.
This ensures you always have the most up-to-date information as you plan your forecasts.
Software that integrates with occupancy sensors allows employees to see the real-time availability for every workspace and helps you eliminate unused reservations. If sensors don't detect activity after a certain period of time, the workspaces can be made available again.
Look for an office hoteling system that gives you robust analytics so you can identify trends, such as peak times when you have the highest percentage of occupied workstations during a typical day or week. This helps you anticipate demand and reconfigure your office space according to the needs of your workforce.
iOFFICE’s office hoteling software allows you to create a flexible workplace now and for the future with connected tools and insights from real-time data. You can make it easy for employees to find spaces using a mobile app, see occupancy trends to improve space utilization, and even support contact tracing by exporting reservation data as needed.
If you're ready to move to a more flexible workplace strategy, reduce real estate costs, and improve your employee experience, request a demo today.
Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.