By Dave Clifton
While it hasn’t closed the door completely on the open office floor plan, COVID-19 has certainly changed the way it’s managed. Over the course of an arduous year, we’ve evolved from free-assign workspaces to hoteling concepts—for the better. Hoteling is the next evolution of free-assign in open office environments. It gives employees the choice and variety of workspace they deserve, while affording managers the oversight and control they need to keep the workplace organized.
Hoteling software has been a key driver in the agility many companies harnessed to shift workplace structure during the pandemic. The ability to orchestrate, oversee, and even optimize hoteling concepts has been instrumental in the back to work strategies of many companies. Even beyond that, it’s opened the door to more efficient workplace utilization in the future.
The key benefits of hoteling software
Hoteling software both enables and supports the hoteling concept. While it’s possible to create a hoteling system without software, it’s simply not practical. Likewise, software offers the scalability to execute hoteling in real time. This creates a continuum of efficient workspace utilization. There’s always a consistent ebb and flow of occupied and unoccupied desks, and employees searching for or using them.
The key benefits of hoteling software are simple enough—but together, they comprise a highly efficient and nuanced system that makes this real-time desking strategy possible:
- See open or occupied workstations in real-time
- Book desks in real-time or reserve a future time slot
- Review utilization, occupancy, or vacancy metrics
- Identify utilization trends, such as by date, time, or person
- Integrate with booking inputs to make the workplace more accessible
There are numerous functions that make hoteling software important—both on the surface and behind the scenes.
For employees, it removes the barriers to workspace selection. They can quickly search, identify, book, and use space throughout the workplace, conducive to their agenda at the time.
For space managers, the inputs and data from a hoteling system lead to insights and opportunities. They can identify when, where, how, and why employees use spaces, then use this data to create a more employee-friendly landscape of workstations.
Both sides of the software add up to a more efficient workplace. Employees get the spaces they need to be productive, and space managers reduce the number of barriers standing between employees and that productivity.
Hoteling software solutions aren’t alike
The more robust the hoteling system, the more capabilities and benefits it offers. This is to say that not all hoteling software is created equal. A basic framework for booking desks might be helpful in expanding workspace horizons to employees—but if it doesn’t offer trend or utilization reports, it’s less useful than software that does.
The same goes for features and integrations. Broad interconnectivity between software and processes makes hoteling more efficient for companies and employees. The ability to reserve a space through Slack using a simple “/reserve” command is worlds easier than logging into a web portal to do the same thing. It’s another barrier removed. This is also why companies need to invest in software with versatile features:
- The ability to search by desk type or room occupancy
- The ability to book now or reserve space in the future
- Software with directory integrations, to locate coworkers
- The ability to delineate groups and control reservation types
- Platforms that offer information about specific hotel seats
Hoteling software needs to support the hoteling infrastructure, as well as the needs of the people using it. Look for software that removes barriers to booking, makes it easy for employees to get what they need, and supports facility managers with back-end integrations and information.
Hoteling in a post-COVID-19 workplace
The right hoteling software unlocks a world of opportunity for companies—especially in a post-COVID-19 work environment. To understand why, remember the many groups now present within the workplace:
- Remote workers who rarely, if ever, come into the office
- On-site workers who’ve resumed a traditional schedule
- Staggered shift workers, meant to avoid overoccupancy
- Visitors slowly easing back into in-person business
Supporting these different groups (and their subgroups) means having a desking system that supports their work styles. Moreover, it means supporting a degree of uncertainty. The number of seats many companies have no longer equals the number of employees they have. Hoteling brings order to this juggling act and helps companies manage demand for seating on a given day, or even within a given hour.
The flexibility of hoteling and the support of hoteling software puts companies in control of their workplace—and it does so in an efficient way. It completes the balancing act of different work groups, workstation needs, and desk availability. In doing so, it unlocks efficiency in workplaces that, before COVID-19, might’ve had trouble pivoting to swings in demand.
The next phase of the evolving office
Hoteling has proven itself not only a pivot concept for COVID-19, but a viable strategy for offices moving forward. As flex work and agile habits cement themselves as the future of work, hoteling is the framework that best supports them. Companies with hoteling software will find themselves better-able to adapt the office to the needs of employees and make sure everyone has a seat—no matter how they work.
It’s vital to remember that hoteling software in and of itself doesn’t guarantee success. It should support a well-thought-out hoteling strategy and the willingness of workplace managers to make hoteling the new standard for workspace utilization. Hoteling has the power to create a more efficient workplace; hoteling software is the means of monitoring and proving this efficiency—and continuing to adapt to changing employee needs.
Keep Reading: A Quick Guide to Office Hoteling Best Practices