Leveraging Hoteling Software into a More Efficient Workplace

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

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


How to Set up Hoteling Stations

How to Set up Hoteling Stations

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Hoteling has become a prominent solution to the rise in flex work created by the coronavirus pandemic. Companies with limited in-house staff or those with rolling in-office schedules have turned to hoteling as a way to accommodate workers with more flexibility and predictability. To make this work, they’ve reconfigured the office to create hoteling stations. 

Hoteling stations come in many varieties, yet serve the same purpose: to provide a temporary workspace for employees in dynamic work environments. These spaces can take on many different qualities, depending on the type of work an employee might do at them or for what length of time they’ll be there. It’s up to facility managers to coordinate hoteling stations that meet the needs of their employees during this period of workplace disruption.

What is hoteling?

Hoteling involves assigning employees to desks for a predetermined period of time. Rather than a permanent, static desk all the time or only free-flowing workspaces, hoteling exists in-between. It combines the structure of assigned seating with the freedom of employees to pick that seating, or to explore new seating options with each hoteling reservation they make. Hoteling is a managed process, overseen by office hoteling software, a facility manager, or a combination of both. 

What is a hoteling station?

A hoteling station is a workplace, designed for short-term or temporary use—hence the concept of hoteling. It can be as simple as a desk and chair with basic hookups for a laptop, but is often more specific to the work habits of employees that may occupy it. For example, a hoteling station designed for product engineering might have two screens and a drawing trackpad, to facilitate better 3D modeling. 

How to optimize hoteling stations

The goal of hoteling is to maximize space utilization in facilities that need a system of governance for unpredictable or flexible work habits. To tap into the real value of hoteling, employees also need to get maximum value from the hotel desk they’re at. This goes beyond designing a space to fit a task. Here are a few other ways to optimize hoteling stations:

  • Place hoteling stations near amenities relevant to employees, such as hotel desks for creatives near meeting rooms where they can gather to collaborate on an idea. 
  • Consider sound and other stimuli. Employees will struggle to use a hotel desk if their surroundings are too much of a distraction. 
  • Make sure hoteling employees can access an admin or manager in case something goes wrong with the desk they’re at or they need additional support. 
  • In larger facilities, incorporate wayfinding with hoteling so employees always know where they’re going and how to get there, even if they think they know. 
  • Create diverse hoteling stations to accommodate different types of work in different areas of your facilities. Diversity helps every employee find their ideal work conditions. 
  • Create term limits or schedules for hotel desks. This encourages employees to embrace the flexibility of hoteling and discourages territorialism over particular spaces.

Above all, make sure the hoteling process is a seamless one. Employees should be able to search for open spaces during a given time, book that space for the time they need it, navigate there without issue, check in to their booking, and work without interruption. A hassle-free hoteling experience is what governs the success of this concept in the workplace. 

How many hoteling stations do you need?

The number of hoteling options you need depends on how many employees you expect to seat during any given day. This further depends on what kind of scheduling or flex work system your employees are on.

If employees come and go as they please, determine the average daily occupancy of your workplace over the course of a month, then compare this to the total number of employees. Buffer this percentage with an acceptable margin of extra hotel stations or create overflow areas for times when in-house occupancy spikes. 

If you have a set, rolling schedule for employees—for example, two weeks in office, two weeks remote—figure the highest number of in-office employees at any given time. This is the minimum number of hoteling stations needed. Fewer will leave employees “homeless” at work; too many extra will lower space utilization rates. 

Build hoteling stations employees will use

As is the case with hotels, there’s a broad description of what, exactly, a hotel room is. A hotel at the Ritz Carlton is much different from the one you’ll get at a Business Inn and Suites. The same holds true for workplace hoteling stations. Facility managers need to furnish employees with a space that helps employees enjoy their hoteling experience and makes them embrace the concept. 

A well-designed hoteling station sets the tone for an enjoyable hoteling experience, which rolls into everything from better space utilization to better productivity—all at a time when many workplaces feel up-ended and chaotic. It’s no wonder hoteling has emerged as a viable solution to quelling workplace uncertainties. 

Read Next: Streamline Desk Booking with Office Hoteling Software


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


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