Five Core Benefits of Desk Scheduling Software

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

Over the next few years, workplace optimization is going to become increasingly important. Facilities management is already a booming career path, with demand growing fast. As new trends like alternative officing and telecommuting grow to become part of the new norm, so will technologies like desk scheduling software. It all amounts to better control over how you manage facilities and how employees interact within them.

A desk scheduling system is one of the simplest ways to add checks and balances to the workplace. There are substantial benefits to exploring new desking concepts and oversight controls. Below, we’ll look at the core benefits that come with turning your facilities into an on-demand, first-come first-serve system of workspace booking.

What is desk scheduling software?

A desk scheduling system has two parts: front-facing employee functions and back-end management functions.

On the front end, scheduling software helps employees interact with the workplace. Lyle needs a workspace for the day, so he pulls up the scheduling portal and searches for available desks. When he finds one, he books it for a desired amount of time. When Frank looks for a desk, he’ll do the same. The software ensures Lyle and Frank can’t book the same desk, which means no interruptions, disagreements, or miscommunication—only a peaceful, productive work experience.

Behind the scenes, facility managers gather plentiful data from employee booking habits to learn more about needs, wants, and expectations. It facilitates opportunities for change. If bench seats get booked twice as often as cubicles, a facility manager may reduce the number of cubicle spaces and expand benches for better space utilization.

There’s broad potential on both the front- and back-ends of a desk booking platform. Utilized properly, the system can create big benefits for both employees and companies. Here’s a look at five of them.

1. More time saved

Time spent looking for the perfect place to set up shop adds up fast. Imagine every employee spends just five minutes each day looking for a desk, and you manage 20 employees. That’s 100 wasted minutes each day! Those man hours add up, too. We’re talking just over eight hours per week and more than 415 hours wasted annually.

Desk booking cuts this time out because employees know the desk they scheduled will be open when they get there. There’s no searching for an open spot when you know where yours is and how long you booked it for.

2. Better space utilization

Desk booking software encourages employees to use space they might otherwise not. The desk they want isn’t available right now… but a similar desk nearby is open. Every alternative booking adds up to efficient use of available space and better accommodation of employees. Desks don’t sit idle—a booking system gently recommends these spaces to employees who might not otherwise think to seek them out.

3. Fewer interruptions

Imagine trying to host a meeting as someone opens the door every few minutes to check if the space is available. Think of how frustrating it would be to concentrate on a project if someone comes up to you and asks how long you’ll be using the space. These types of interruptions are wholly avoidable with desk scheduling software. If a desk or space doesn’t show up at the point of booking—or shows it’s occupied—employees can move on to the next option or book a different time. No interruptions. No friction. No headaches.

4. Occupancy compliance

In the era of social distancing and COVID-19 guidelines, space occupancy is top-of-mind. Facility managers face new challenges as they rearrange rooms, revise floor plans, and plan for new occupancies. Desk scheduling software can simplify the process—and improve the results.

Program rooms to limit occupancy at the point of booking. Make some desks off limits or unavailable. Display warnings or reminders to employees as they book certain desks or spaces. Booking space prior to utilizing it gives facility managers ample opportunities to promote better compliance.

5. Space management insights

Desk booking data gives facility managers real-time insights about the workplace. Employees book X spaces more often than Y spaces. They spend an average of two hours at Z spaces. Desks on floors two and three are utilized more often than desks on one and four. Every snippet of booking data recorded and processed by scheduling software becomes aggregated data that stakeholders can use to shape the workplace. All this in the name of cost control, space utilization, and employee support.

Desk scheduling software is a cornerstone of workplace management

To take full advantage of these benefits, facility managers need to realize opportunities for flexibility within a desk scheduling system. Everyone might be subject to the same booking process and utilization guidelines—but you have the power to change the types of workspaces available based on demand. Use a scheduling system to bring order to the workplace, then glean and act on information to better-shape it around the needs of employees. The results will be evident in the above benefits.

Keep reading: Streamline Desk Booking with Office Hoteling Software


What is Alternative Officing?

By Dave Clifton 
Content Marketing Strategist

There’s the generally accepted normal way to do things. Then, there’s the alternative. This is true for nearly any decision you’ll make—including how you design your office. Will you opt for the traditional office floor plan or give alternative officing a try?

If you’re not one to explore life’s many alternatives, now might be the time to start—after all, we’re in ‘uncertain times’ and embracing a ‘new normal.’ Sometimes, the alternative offers possibilities and options that the stock, standard, generally-accepted solution can’t. Such is the case with alternative officing today.

Alternative officing defined

To understand why alternative officing may be a better option than traditional desking concepts, it’s worth knowing exactly what alternative officing is. In simplest terms, we’re talking about office hoteling. Instead of employees roaming facilities, hoteling encourages them to book spaces for specific times. A solo desk on the first floor from 9am to noon. A conference space from 1pm to 2pm. A collaborative workspace from 4pm until the end of the day. Alternative officing preserves the flexibility and diversity of the workplace, while adding guardrails to how employees use it. Beyond hoteling, the ethos of this alternative also extends to non-traditional workplace elements. This might include workstations within a coffee bar or breakout spaces near conference rooms, for meeting spillover. It’s a distinct shift away from the classic idea of an office. The alternative office is a dynamic, flexible, comfortable space, built on helping employees do their best work.

Key benefits behind alternative officing

What incentives do employers have to explore alternative officing? When traditional workplace concepts become inefficient, it’s a matter of adapting. In the face of a catalyst like COVID-19, traditional workplaces lack the flexibility of alternative officing solutions. As companies adopt the alternative, they adopt flexibility, which leads to several key benefits:

  • Reduce workplace costs through space optimization
  • Improve productivity of employees under new workplace guidelines
  • Usher in new technologies to improve workplace utilization
  • Accommodate the increased mobility of employees, while maintaining order

Above all, alternative officing promotes teamwork, collaboration, and better workplace utilization. It does this by changing the framework of how people interact with the office environment. They’re not tied to their desk all day—they merely occupy a space as they need it, with the ability to change that space with a simple booking.

Where to utilize office hoteling

Alternative officing strategies are best suited in workplaces with dynamic staff. If a majority of your employees use multiple workspaces in the context of a workday, there’s ample opportunity for chaos to arise. Bring a hoteling concept to these environments to restore checks and balances to space utilization. For example, if Desk X is booked, someone can view similar desks to book at the same time or the next available time for Desk X.

Office hoteling is also effective in environments with a mixed workforce. For example, if your workplace has space for 100 desks and you manage 150 employees mixed between in-house and telecommuting, there’s an occupancy balancing act. Hoteling gives everyone a chance to book space that’s right for them, provided there’s a facility manager to coordinate schedules (75 in-house vs. 75 remote, for example).

How to utilize office hoteling

Alternative officing only works if you show employees how to make it work. Without an understanding of how to act in hoteling office space, the system will all but break down. Desks become occupied without reservations. Employees clash over the rights to certain desks or spaces. The system of law and order needs oversight itself, courtesy of a facility manager.

Hoteling software is essential, as well as the integrations that come with it. Desk booking via email. Real-time desk searches via Slack. Push notifications for wayfinding. Make sure there are numerous touchpoints that facilitate employee interaction with hoteling software. More important, make sure it all routes through a cohesive system that relays one employee-facing record of what’s booked vs. what’s available.

Companies also need to structure facilities to accommodate alternative officing. More individual workstations with amenities conducive to the type of work employees need to do. Lack of a home base also means workplaces need areas where employees can work privately, store their belongings, take phone calls, and otherwise exist outside of the hoteling system. Design an alternative office infrastructure that supports employees, not confine them.

The future demands alternative officing

How long before the alternative becomes the new norm? In the current workplace climate and in the face of uncertain CRE trends, space optimization is a lever businesses can pull for cost savings and resource planning. As office hoteling becomes more familiar for more employees, it’s also more likely businesses will continue to leverage these benefits.

Hoteling may be the alternative, but it’s nonetheless effective. It’s a proven approach to desking where traditional workplace concepts aren’t currently viable.

Keep reading: A Quick Guide to Office Hoteling Best Practices


Five Questions to Ask Before Buying a Visitor Management System

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

If your business welcomes visitors, there’s a need to shape the experience these guests have with your facilities. One of the best ways to control the visitor experience and facilitate a smooth interaction with your facilities is via a digital visitor management system. If this concept is a new one or you’re in the market for such a platform, there are plenty of questions to ask before buying a visitor management system.

As with any major software investment, the decision to purchase comes down to value. How will a visitor management system help you accomplish the goals you have for this aspect of facilities management? Below are five core questions that will put you on the right track to an investment that will serve you, your facilities, and, most importantly, your visitors.

1. What’s your demand for visitor management?

What kind of visitor experience do your facilities currently offer? How could that experience be improved? Gauge your demand for visitor management software before anything else and determine how this investment will unlock new opportunities for your guests.

Look at how many visitors you welcome on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Why do these people visit? Who are they here to see? What aspects of your facilities do they use? At a high level, gauge the need for visitor management as it relates to the real demands your facility faces. You may welcome fewer visitors, but need a highly controlled system that exemplifies experience. Or, you may welcome hundreds of visitors each week who only need a simple framework to meet their needs. Explore this demand in real terms as you look for software designed to meet it.

2. What is the scope of your visitor experience?

The purpose of a visitor management system is to create a step-by-step, repeatable process that guests can rely on to guide their interaction with your facilities. Ask yourself what the scope of that experience needs to be. It goes beyond check-in or wayfinding, and needs to encompass every phase of a visitor’s interaction with your facilities, employees, resources, and technology. Some examples include:

  • Reservations and bookings
  • Check-in/-out systems
  • Welcome process and interaction
  • Wayfinding maps and apps
  • Visitor badging and permissions
  • Access to Wi-Fi and other tech

Flesh out the scope of a visitor’s experience to gauge their needs and expectations. These findings will influence what features and capabilities your visitor management system needs to set the tone for a positive experience.

3. What integrations and touchpoints do you need?

After you determine the scope of a visitor’s experience, go a layer deeper. How will a visitor system facilitate this experience? Does the platform offer check-in for visitor management? Can it integrate with your employee directory or space planning software? What automations does it offer?

Explore the capabilities of software from a technical standpoint. Integrations and touchpoints need to be as fluid as the visitor experience itself. A well-run front-end (UX) may be great for visitor interaction, but a clunky back-end (UI) may make visitor management difficult from a facilities management standpoint. Find a system that plays well with your broader office ecosystem, to enable seamless integration on the back-end and frictionless touchpoints on the front-end.

4. What data does the system handle? 

One key element of visitor management isn’t front-facing at all. The data you collect and aggregate for your visitors plays a big part in the reason to invest in a digital management system. Orchestrated for data capture and reporting, a well-implemented system sheds light on broad variables of a visitor’s interaction and how you can optimize it.

What’s the average length of a visit? What days see the most guests at your facilities? A visitor on Tuesday tested positive for COVID-19—what facilities did they use, who did they meet with, and what was their origin? Data plays a critical role in visitor management from a facilities management perspective. Look for a software solution that collects, aggregates, reports, and catalogs as many critical data points as possible.

5. How will you define ROI? 

How do you measure the return on investment (ROI) of a good visitor experience? That’s a question every company needs to ask itself. It depends on the type of visitor and the reason for their visit. If your facilities welcome sales prospects who leave feeling good, you might measure ROI in terms of in-house sales dollars. If you welcome strategic visitors for project planning and collaboration, ROI might take the form of time saved.

Whatever the ROI metric, establish it before you make the investment in visitor management software. Set a benchmark for gauging returns and determine your break-even point. Treat this software as a traditional investment—because it is. It’s an upfront expense that can and should lead to long-term growth, profit, and benefits.

Probe deeper before a purchase 

Every business needs to shape a positive experience for visitors—whether they’re a one-off visitor or a frequent guest. A clear, well-managed, repeatable process that answers questions and provides guidance is what defines that experience. It’s a system that needs the support of visitor management software.

Determine what you want the visitor experience to look and feel like in your facilities. As you comb through visitor management software options, continue to ask questions about the benefits and capabilities that come with each platform. How do they further the mission of a seamless visitor experience? Choose software capable of creating that experience, from the moment someone walks in the door to the moment they leave.

Keep reading: 5 Essential Visitor Management System Features