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How to Set up Hoteling Stations

How to Set up Hoteling Stations

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

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

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Workplace Thought Leadership

The Rise of Hoteling During the COVID Era

By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Well before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) forever changed global markets, many business owners discovered the strategic value of workplace hoteling—a workplace management process that allows employees, visitors, and guests to search for and reserve a workspace (desk, cubicle, phone booth, etc.) for a specified period of time.

COVID-19 forced most business owners to shut down as the pandemic spread. But like most crises, the danger died down enough for office doors to reopen. As employees return to work, employers are enacting guidelines meant to keep workers as safe as possible: social distancing, intense cleaning, and contact tracing.

Add hoteling to that mix. The days of sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at desks are over—for now. Hoteling has gone from a helpful workplace tool to a necessary precaution amid COVID-19. The use of hotel desks—alongside measures such as staggered work shifts and adjusted layouts—allow companies to better manage who sits where and when.

From Office Management to Virus Prevention

Hoteling isn’t a new concept by any means, but it has taken on a new role in 2020 and beyond. For more than 20 years, hotel desks—and the technology that governs them—has been helping companies move from standard to flexible layouts. In an activity-based workplace, employees have the freedom to work in a spot that best suits the task at hand. They can simply reserve a desk at the beginning of the day and have confidence there is a seat with their digital name waiting for them. Since COVID-19 has shifted the way we can safely work in the office, hoteling has morphed into a social distancing strategy.

Hoteling combats the risk of COVID-19 on multiple fronts. One major area it helps control is density. In a pre-COVID world, a density of 200 employees was perfectly normal. Now only half of that is permissible. But do you really want dozens of people back on the first day? The right amount is realistically around 20 people, with incremental increases every week thereafter. Or you might implement shift days with a set number of employees.

This is important as back-to-work waves may be subject to fluctuations. Hoteling is one solution that can be employed to have an accurate headcount in real time. “Facility managers will be reliant on proptech sensors for managing real-time data on the crowds within buildings and alerts that signify if too many people are in one place at one time,” according to an article in Facility Executive.

Hoteling is also being repurposed for practical considerations such as cleaning. Without a booking audit, how do you determine which desks have been occupied and need a deep cleaning every day? The CDC’s guidelines for office buildings state “at least daily, clean and disinfect all surfaces that are frequently touched by multiple people,” including workstations. Hoteling shows at a glance which areas have been reserved and thus require disinfection. Janitorial teams can prioritize which surfaces need attention, especially as sanitizing requires more contact time to kill germs and bacteria.

Organizations can also lean on hoteling to assist with contact tracing. Identifying a COVID-19 case and investigating its possible path of transmission was once the domain of public health departments, but now businesses must fold this process into their operations. The CDC notes that “prompt identification, voluntary isolation or quarantine, and monitoring of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 and their contacts can effectively break the chain of disease transmission and prevent further spread of the virus.” With hoteling, workplace managers have records of exactly where a person sat and who was also in that vicinity.

Technology makes it more efficient for companies to monitor employee movement and enact COVID-19 protocols when needed. For example, SVLive—a SpaceIQ product—converts existing wifi and wired networks into thousands of smart sensors. The system shows what devices are active and who’s logged in and where. This real-time data allows businesses to quickly address possible COVID-19 transmissions within a highly secure network safeguarded by MQTT and HTTPS protocols (both use SSL X.509 certificates).

The Human Side of Hoteling

Having the right technology is critical to managing return-to-work and ensuring the greatest possible safety. But hoteling is far more than a reservation system—it’s actually your secret weapon to preserving productivity during these stressful times. Hoteling empowers employees at all levels to focus on priority tasks.

For example, a space planner can use hoteling to create pre approved zones, which effectively limits where people can work. This approach provides full control over which seats are reservable and which aren’t. Hoteling eliminates possible confusion about which desks are open, thus reinforcing social distancing. Employees will have reassurance that there’s a dedicated seat waiting for them as well as an understanding of where colleagues are booked.

One of the most important benefits of hoteling is that it offers employees a feeling of safety. Remember that a desk reservation is just one piece of essential information they need to process. Hoteling can go a long way toward diminishing anxiety with returning to the office. In fact, that’s imperative, according to the National Safety Council. It advises using respect and transparency to counter employee worry. Hoteling shows that your company is taking active measures to protect their safety.

Keep reading: What is Hoteling and Should You be Using it?

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Workplace Thought Leadership

The Next Normal in a Post-Pandemic Workspace

By Nai Kanell
Vice President of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Whether your office has already partially returned to work or you’re planning a workplace reentry, one thing is certain—things may never be the same. Safe facility management during an unprecedented pandemic requires a high level of planning and precaution. The measures you implement should increase employee productivity, promote workplace trust, and most importantly, keep employees and customers safe.

Rule and Regulation Compliance

It’s not always easy to keep up with new regulations, especially with constantly changing guidelines. Regardless, the first priority is employee safety. In most nations, employers are encouraged to provide a safe working environment. Physical safety should be a constant for all employees, but some may tolerate risk better than others. It’s wise to consider your most vulnerable employees when creating a return-to-work plan, but determine strategies with everyone in mind.

Second, keep employees informed of changes and guidelines. Assign staff to monitor local conditions and guidelines, then share updates on a consistent schedule. Keep a global perspective and adjust plans as needed to comply with local requirements.

Third, align business priorities with global realities. Inspect your building for potential hazards and determine remediation costs. Be willing to remodel, reconfigure, or rearrange everything including work schedules, walls, and seating arrangements.

Masking, Sanitation, and Social Distancing

Most official guidelines center on three principles—masking, sanitation, and social distancing. Depending on your industry, some guidelines may present more of a challenge than others. Restrictions will change as the coronavirus threat diminishes or increases, so keep long-term needs in mind when investing in safety equipment.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements can vary depending on role. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to PPE. Some employees may not be able to wear masks. Others may need to avoid the workplace altogether, such as employees with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

Employees want clean workplaces, even more so now under COVID-19. Make sanitation a priority by setting up hygiene stations with hand sanitizer, soap, gloves, and disinfecting wipes. The typical weekly office cleanings may not be enough. Consider hiring extra cleaning staff to more frequently clean bathrooms, break areas, and shared spaces like conference rooms and lounges.

PPE isn’t limited to individual employees. Plexiglass shields provide an additional layer of protection around pinch points where social distancing may be a challenge, such as reception areas, entrances and exits, and payment areas. Posted policies and directional signage are great visual reminders for customers and employees to abide by your workplace precautions.

Other measures such as UV lights and thermal scanners are options for combatting COVID-19, but should be part of an overall workplace health and safety strategy. It’s wise to check with locally, regionally, and country-specific requirements to determine what’s feasible for your team to manage.

Technology and Real Estate Optimization

For most workplaces, safety decisions center around official guidelines. Maintaining six feet of distance helps protect people from breathing in infected air particles. However, this is easier said than done for many businesses.

Social distance guidelines vary by country and region. In the U.S., 6 feet is the standard; the World Health Organization recommends 1 meter. Social distancing may reduce workplace capacity, depending on your current seating configuration, plan density, desk sharing, and other factors. The potential for space loss raises some interesting options:

  • Should some individuals work remotely forever? Can we stagger work schedules? Do we need to let some staff go?
  • Should we purchase or rent additional office space or retrofit the space we have? Should we consider moving? Should we renegotiate the terms of our lease?
  • How can we prepare our workplace for future emergencies?

During the pandemic, many business leaders are leveraging real estate planning software to visualize coronavirus-related changes to seating arrangements, staff schedules, and office remodeling before committing time and money to wholesale changes. For example, hoteling software helps maximize seating efficiency using dynamic data such as HR information and floor maps.

Business owners can require that employees reserve a hotel desk prior to coming to work and show the reservation before they’re allowed to enter. After someone uses the hotel desk, facility management can be notified that the area must be cleaned and sanitized before another reservation can be made.

The Next Normal is Now

Reopening your workplace can be difficult. Regulations are constantly changing and there’s no saying when COVID-19 will ease. The post-pandemic “next normal” requires flexibility and adaptability. Desks, rooms, and entire floors may not function the same way. Previous policies for remote work, sick leave, and work schedules may need to be reevaluated in the new work environment.

You can’t foresee every situation, but you can be flexible in establishing your new normal. Employees will appreciate your efforts as they return to their former—though newly arranged—workspaces.

Learn how SpaceIQ can help you effectively manage your workplace reentry.

Keep Reading: COVID-19 Workplace Resources

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Workplace Thought Leadership

Adjusting Workplace Strategies for a Post-COVID Future

By Laura Woodard
Real Estate & Workplace Program Manager (Ret.)
Google

“…I believe scarcity breeds clarity: it focuses minds, forcing people to think creatively and rise to the challenge.”
Sergey Brin, Google Co-founder & President, Technology
2008 Founders’ Letter (May 2009)

Those words resonated deeply with everyone at Google at a time when the housing market crashed to record lows. Like the Dot-com bubble burst of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Google weathered the storm by embracing Sergey’s words: “Scarcity breeds clarity.” We ruthlessly prioritized, did more with less, and planned for the future.

The world faces a greater challenge in COVID-19. Yes, businesses are closing. But this time, people are dying from an enemy not interested in instant online business success or low mortgage rates. Companies of all sizes and types have closed their doors not because of economic strain; they’re shuttered to keep employees and customers alive.

As the business community prepares to reopen, its path remains fraught with perils we don’t understand, nor are prepared to face. Social distancing is defining a new workplace structure that may require a completely different work model based on remote employees, staggered shifts, and smaller footprints. But one thing is certain: we won’t go back to the way things were in January 2020.

Get out of the weeds

It’s easy to become mired in the day-to-day issues of getting back to business under COVID-19. You’ve got a lot of questions—but they may not be the right ones. Instead of only planning where to put hand sanitizer stations, you should also be asking how you’ll adjust to changes two to five years from now.

Crises will come and go, but how you adapt to the changes those emergencies foster is the difference between success and failure. There’s no crystal ball to guide your decision-making, but focusing on change management vs. crisis management requires big-picture vision.

First, create a cross-functional team including executive management, HR, people managers, and employees who work in lockstep on strategies that cover a two-to-five-year horizon. The team should meet on a regular basis to assess current strategies and make adjustments. Note: there may be an existing cross-functional team established already that you can leverage for this longer-term outlook.

Because there’s no one-size-fits-all change management structure, the cross-functional team should create a decision tree that identifies the strategies, tactics, and incidentals your business needs to succeed. Think of each branch as a different strategic path you take depending on the change that’s required.

Finally, plan for likely scenarios. Play the “If this, then that” game to identify and plan for internal and external circumstances. Your decision tree determines which of these tactics to use and the cross-functional team ensures the right work gets done at the right time.

These plans aren’t tabletop exercises based on imagination, but on data. Your cross-functional team should determine how to measure business success during the reopening phase. Specific metrics and outcomes will help clarify how a physical comeback to the office—even at a partial level—will support operations. Key areas to explore are employee uncertainty, the effects of social distancing on capacity, and long-term lease considerations.

The human element

Because the workplace is a microcosm of society, there’s a human element to consider as you reopen your business. You need to acknowledge that employees are dealing with a heightened state of individual fears as well as a sense of loss. In addition to anxiety surrounding their personal lives, they could be carrying residual stress from this extended shutdown and the negative impacts it may have had on your company.

As you welcome employees back to the office, offer clear communication channels for them to voice their concerns. Their apprehensions may involve workplace-related issues like the process of returning to the building, issues with public transportation, or private considerations about a family death, mental health, or a lack of access to childcare.

If your company has multiple locations, be aware that communications will need to be tempered for each site. New Yorkers, for example, are going to have a different state of mind than employees in areas where cases haven’t been as high. Tailor your response guidelines and workplace modifications to each city, county, and state to match the realities of their situations.

Managers should also be empowered to both receive and relay concerns from the frontlines. In a March Gallup poll, only 54% of employees felt strongly “that their supervisor keeps them informed about what is going on in the organization.” Managers are in the best position to understand individual concerns, as well as judge team morale. They know which roles can be done remotely, those unique to the office, and what technology solutions both groups will need.

End of crammed offices

Companies across every industry have long been reducing the square footage allocated for individual workstations. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, was once famous for adopting an open-office concept in a government building. Dubbed the Bullpen, employees were stationed at small desks configured in tight rows. But the practice of working shoulder-to-shoulder is—at least for the time being—a big no-no.

Business owners should determine if hoteling, hot desks, and benching can accommodate on-site workers under social-distancing rules. Even if you currently offer reservable desks, employees might be worried about who else sat there and for how long. Plus, there’s now a question of adding daily janitorial services to sanitize desks and other work surfaces.

One solution to alleviate overcrowding and improve cleaning efficiency is to implement A/B days. The first step is to determine where people normally sit, then calculate capacity based on distancing guidelines. Because social distancing significantly alters capacity, space planning software can show how to place people at safe intervals.

Remodel or renegotiate

Now, step forward 18 months. Theoretically, you should feel comfortable making permanent decisions about workplace strategies. We’ll likely have more clarity on a “new normal” and how that impacts workplace operations. Is social distancing still needed? If not, should you abandon hot desks for more permanent workstations? Can you design for capacity or is distancing required?

Changing the physical workplace is an expensive endeavor;it be done easily or quickly. Companies need to consider how long social distancing might last before committing to layout changes that require a remodel. It’s worth remembering that a construction project often depreciates over the length of the lease. If your lease expires in 10 years, 18 months is not that long to wait for a renovation.

The coronavirus pandemic has made companies even more cautious of committing to decades-long leases and costly buildouts. As businesses inevitably shutter during this period, turnkey office space at below-market rates is more readily available. It may be prudent to evaluate these options and take the opportunity to negotiate more flexible terms for your existing lease.

Look to the future

The end of the COVID-19 story is unclear; we have no way of knowing where each of us will be after this saga. But the silver lining for businesses is an opportunity to recalibrate. When everything has changed, it’s wise to pause and take a fresh look at the how’s and why’s of doing business.

Companies no longer have the luxury of holding onto the mantra of “We have always done it this way, so that’s the way we should do it.” That’s putting your head in the sand. Don’t ignore the facts that business has changed. Instead, rise to the challenge, throw out the old rule books, and get laser-sharp about our workplace goals.

Keep Reading: COVID-19 Wokplace Management Resources

Categories
Workplace Thought Leadership

What Does Your Workplace Say About Your Company?

By Laura Woodard
Real Estate Executive (Ret.)
Google

They say a home tells you everything you need to know about a person. The same can—or, perhaps, should—be said of a company and its workplace.

As part of the interview process, many job seekers place a premium on company culture. We typically associate culture with less tangible elements: how people behave and their interactions with one another, a person or company’s mission and goals, etc. However, someone’s first impression of your business develops around structural design. In other words, your workplace influences opinions of your business.

First Impressions Count

By structural design, we mean tangible items that influence how people behave and communicate with one another, which also supports how missions come to fruition, and how individuals meet those goals. For example, respectful and friendly office communication cannot happen in a noisy, open office with zero space for quiet work and collaboration cannot happen without a system to locate and communicate with one’s colleagues. Similarly, if a law firm prides itself on discretion and service tailored to each client’s needs, spreading out teams among different sections or offices, or failing to reserve private conference rooms for client meetings, reflects poorly on this mission.

Company culture is where the physical workplace meets human goals and behavior (also read why workplace culture is important for success). Should you include in your job posts  “private, reservation-only conference rooms” or “real-time employee location tracking”? It’s not nearly as compelling as saying “flexible workspace accommodations” and “collaborative work environment supported by technology tailored to your needs”.

Give Your Company Culture a Reality Check

The tools supporting the culture are what allow companies to retain employees—and you have to be prepared to back up claims made in job descriptions. While employees may be encouraged by the language used in an ad, we live in the age of reviews. Job seekers may contact a company’s current or former employees to hear their personal experience and whether working there is as good as a job post makes it seem. The current workforce, especially Millennials and Gen Z, isn’t swayed by language alone. They need real-life accounts to inform their decisions.

Across generations, employees hold feedback and appreciation in the highest regard; therefore, implementing tools that encourage regular comments and acknowledgement is necessary. Some companies rely on gamification, which combines feedback and rewards by ranking employees or teams based on achievement of their goals, all while encouraging productivity. However, leaderboards—like an open office or remote-work—don’t work with every industry. A software company, for instance, may see gamification in the workplace as the most useful way to keep sales teams motivated and engaged. However, an architecture firm likely wouldn’t reap the same benefits.

Who Knows How Well Your Office Works Better Than Your Team?

It’s not just enough, or even appropriate, to make your office look good and enforce what you perceive as the company’s culture or employee needs. You need to assess whether particular design or technology elements touted by other successful businesses work for yours and, when possible, ask your teams to weigh in.

A study from the Workforce Institute @ Kronos shows that employees believe they are what defines workplace culture, or—at least part of it. Utilizing the same processes for benchmarking company goals and achievements, you can get feedback on how well your workplace connects to the desired culture and what, if anything, can be done to improve it. You might find your goal of a laid-back and hip office is actually hindered by noise, an inability to locate colleagues, and aggressive art and color choices.

You can’t assess company culture or how your workplace contributes to it without feedback. One starting point, as Ivana Taylor, a DIY marketing expert, suggests, is to list your company’s values. Define them, and then ask your team to define them as well. How do executives rank these values vs. entry-level employees? This exercise illuminates how the boots on the ground, so to speak, view the company as opposed to what executives think they see.

Small, structural elements can create drastic shifts in culture for the better. Using sensors to detect when printer ink is low may reduce stress for an employee who needs to print hundreds of documents in one sitting. Introducing elements from nature with biophilic design in quiet spaces and human resource offices can calm employees, allowing them to focus or feel at ease in an otherwise stressful situation. Adding shades to glass-walled conference rooms offers another layer of privacy while raising them ensures the company’s democratic, collaborative values are on display (literally or not).

A Little is A LotMake Changes That Count

Employee perks, such as flexible work hours, should be supported by the workplace. Say your business doesn’t enforce a strict 9 a.m.-to-5 p.m. schedule, but lights go off and cleaning crews show up at 6 p.m. Such timing discourages workers from arriving and staying later or breaking their day into blocks to balance work and life needs. Similarly, if employees are encouraged to work remotely and the office, as a result, doesn’t have a desk for everyone, you may not realize that remote-work is only being utilized because of the lack of desks. Employees may actually prefer to be in the office; implementing a hot-desking policy allows managers to see how many people want to work in the office vs. how many actually are.

Every aspect of the workplace serves a purpose, down to the flooring in the office. And it all affects how your company’s culture is shaped and perceived. Does your physical office align with the values or your organization?  Or does it subtly contradict those values? Understanding how your physical space dictates the tone of your business is critical to supporting—and retaining—a productive, happy workforce.

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Blog

Five Core Benefits of Desk Scheduling Software

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

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

Categories
Blog

What is Alternative Officing?

By Dave Clifton 
Content Marketing Strategist
SpaceIQ

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