By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

The open office concept has become something of a taboo during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing mandates and fear of proximity are forcing change to traditional open offices. The solution is not too far of a pivot: open office hoteling. It is a concept that brings the structure and oversight of hoteling to the free-flowing open office.

Considering the short pivot from traditional open office to open office hoteling? Here are 12 reasons to look closer and endeavor to experiment with a hoteling concept during the pandemic.

  1. Supports flex workers. When employees have the option to work remote or in-office, employers need to plan to accommodate both. Will they come in today? If they do, will we have a desk for them? Hoteling forces predictability. A desk reservation means they’ll be in, and when they arrive, they’ll have a desk.
  2. Supports agile workers. As employees flit around agile workplaces, they need workspaces designed to accommodate their changing workflow. The ability to book a hotel desk in transition fits with the agile model. In this way, open office hoteling is a great framework for agile workplaces and ideal for establishing employee expectations.
  3. Supports remote workers. Your company has 50 workers, 35 of which work remote. Your workplace has seating for 40—more than enough to accommodate the 15 full-time in-house staff. The remaining desks accommodate remote employees who may need to spend time in the physical office. You can bring in 25 of your 35 remote staff for an all-hands meeting and guarantee accommodations for the day.
  4. Great for contact tracing. The open office is not conducive to social distancing and COVID-19 safety standards—at least, not as a free-flowing environment. Hoteling brings order to open offices and enables better control over coronavirus protocols. This includes contact tracing. Hoteling is a responsible solution to open office space during COVID-19.
  5. Ideal for utilization trending. Hotel desks give facility manager a clear picture of utilization in real-time and over time. Because employees need to book space, bookings become a measurable stat that’s trackable and interpretable. For example, if only 20 of your 40 hotel desks see action over a month-long period, it’s safe to say you can scale back.
  6. Easy to calculate costs. Facility managers can use office hoteling software to assign values to each hotel desk in their fleet of workspaces. Then, using utilization metrics, it’s possible to track the cost, ROI, and value of each space. This quantifiable data is vital for making upstream decisions about real estate and facilities management, and it creates greater understanding as to the true cost of a workplace.
  7. Centralized management. The framework hoteling operates within is great for exercising control over the workplace. Facility managers can quarantine specific spaces within the open office environment for sanitization or specific groups, and push desk demands to open hoteling spaces. Similarly, it’s easy to submit work tickets or requests on a per-desk basis, to ensure proper upkeep, cleaning, or repairs.
  8. Integrative with X. In the increasingly connected world of work, integrations enable innovation. An office hoteling system offers broad integration capabilities that make navigating an open office environment simpler, safer, and more efficient. Directory integration makes it easy to find coworkers, no matter what hotel desk they’re at. Wayfinding integrations keep employees grounded in new environments. Booking integrations through Slack make reserving a hotel space simple. The more integrations, the better.
  9. Simplifies space planning. The flexibility of hoteling makes it a plug-and-play solution for many companies assessing their workplace’s efficiency and space utilization. Because hoteling pertains to single spaces within a larger network of optional desks, it’s easy for facility managers to integrate them into an existing floor plan—especially when using space planning software. This saves the trouble of a complete workplace reinvention or major floor plan redesign.
  10. Freedom of choice for employees. Employees want the ability to choose where and how they work. Hoteling gives them this opportunity, but in the context of a managed framework of desks. It’s the best of both worlds! Freedom of choice boosts productivity and morale, while providing facility managers the necessary controls to ensure a balanced workplace.
  11. Low-cost desking. Because of their flexibility, hotel desks bring a new level of cost efficiency to open floor plan concepts. Otherwise-static spaces can become hoteling areas and bring newfound utilization with them. From a cost perspective, a room with four hotel desks filled at 50% occupancy is more valuable than the same room unfilled due to a blanket ban on group meetings due to COVID-19.
  12. Scalability. Whether your workplace has 10 hotel desks or 100 hoteling spaces of varying types, the management framework behind the concept scales. As facility managers figure out supply and demand, it’s easy to add and consolidate spaces within the hoteling network.

These benefits span employees and employers alike, covering cost, productivity, and spatial concepts. In a nutshell: it’s hard to beat the benefits of open office hoteling as we transition into the future of work. If you already use an open office, these benefits are even more enticing, because they’re already within reach.

Keep Reading: Hoteling in the Workplace

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