How Workplaces Can Take Advantage of Desk Hoteling

by Elizabeth Dukes on July 29, 2013

For facilities managers whose companies and their staffs are becoming increasingly mobile, matters of space management are beginning to get tricky. It’s no longer prudent for each employee to have his or her own desk. It’s not that simple anymore – some people work from home part of the time, some are frequently traveling and lots of workers are in a state of flux, with departments constantly being shuffled and re-shuffled around.


Rather than give each employee his or her own permanent seat, some progressive companies have come up with a new approach – hoteling. Instead of marking their territory and sticking to it, workers move from place to place, floating in whatever direction is convenient on any given day.

For workers, hoteling is often beneficial – it helps them sit near their collaborative partners and get office tasks done. But for facilities managers, it can be a little bit of a puzzle logistically. Finding a place for everyone isn’t always easy.

The following are a few guidelines for FMs who manage hoteling workplaces.

Organize your office first

If hoteling has quickly become a priority for your office – perhaps because workers have become more mobile or a department has recently relocated – you may feel eager to dive into the practice right away. You should be careful, however. Facility Innovations notes that it’s important to organize everything else in your office before you begin hoteling. Make sure your files are organized, your technology is working well and most importantly, your people are productive. Hoteling has many benefits, but you should make sure the rest of your office is in order first.

Enlist the help of assistants

Whenever you’re unsure about a detail of the hoteling process, it’s best to reach out to assistants and office administrators who frequently organize company logistics and know the ins and outs. How often is this employee in the office? Who does that employee collaborate with? When in doubt, just ask. There are usually plenty of people in the workplace willing to share insights.

Prepare for the worst

It’s common for facilities managers to plan their hoteling strategies by thinking about the average day. How many people are typically in the office? What resources do they need? Don’t fall into that line of thinking – it’s a trap. Instead of preparing for a reasonable scenario, think of the worst case. Ask yourself – what does peak demand look like? How many desks, chairs and computers will you need if everyone shows up?

Demonstrate service when problems arise

If something comes up and you run into trouble with hoteling, don’t panic – instead, use adversity as a chance to demonstrate your commitment to serving your employees well. If every seat is full and you can’t find a place for an employee, then go out of your way to create one. Bring in more desks and more equipment to make it work. As a facilities manager, your No. 1 goal is to ensure the productivity of your employees, so go the extra mile to prove you care.

Acknowledge workers’ sacrifices

No matter how efficient hoteling ultimately ends up being, there will always be some employees who aren’t fans of it. If one is a creature of habit, preferring to sit at one desk constantly rather than be shuffled around, hoteling will likely be no fun for them. In these situations, you should acknowledge that your workers are making a sacrifice to adhere to your workplace policies. Be respectful of these employees. You may have a difference of opinion, but you still want them to be happy, motivated, productive workers.

Is hoteling for everyone? Maybe not. But by following these tips, you can make the practice work better for your office.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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