Jul 29, 2021
By Brandon Davis

5 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Desk Hoteling System

As workplaces return to “normal” after the height of the pandemic, companies are re-thinking the way they organize their office space and operations.

For many of them, this means accommodating a growing number of employees who are working from home all or part of the time. It also means taking a hard look at their real estate portfolios and space management systems to make sure their office locations are properly meeting business needs while avoiding unnecessary expenses.

One potential solution for these concerns is the rapidly accelerating trend of hoteling.

If you’re not sure what that is, don’t worry. In this article, we’ll explain what hoteling means and explore some of the key questions companies should ask before implementing a hoteling strategy.

What is Hoteling?

Hoteling is the practice of enabling multiple people to use the same workstation at different times using a reservation-based system.

While hoteling has been used for decades, it’s recently gained a new importance in the face of changing work environments. In fact, a recent study found that 77% of larger organizations are now planning to increase work flexibility, and 53% are looking to shrink their office sizes.

Hoteling differs from the similar system known as hot desking. In hot desking, there are no reservations, which means users get access to workstations on a first-come, first-served basis. For that reason, hoteling doesn’t quite match the hot desking definition, although the two terms are often used interchangeably.

When implemented effectively, hoteling can help free up space and save costs while adding convenience and flexibility for employees. By reducing their number of permanently occupied desks, organizations can accommodate the varying schedules and work arrangements of their people while leasing less overall square footage.

There are, however, a few things to consider before making the switch to a hoteling system. Let’s take a look at those now.

5 Questions to Ask Before Creating a Hoteling System

While a hoteling system can have numerous benefits, it can also lead to employees feeling less autonomous, breakdowns in communication, and—especially in a post-pandemic world—health and cleanliness issues.

To avoid these pitfalls, it’s essential for leaders to ask the following questions before they implement a hoteling system:

1. Can employees reserve their space ahead of time?

Employees expect a certain degree of predictability in the workplace. No one wants to show up at work one day and suddenly have no place to sit. This can lead to disorder and confusion as people scramble to find a place to do their work.

A hot desking system always carries this risk since it doesn’t offer the ability to make reservations. A hoteling system, on the other hand, enables employees to reserve space ahead of time so they can be confident that they’ll have a dedicated space waiting for them when they arrive at the building.

This kind of system is best implemented using a cloud-based software, ideally one that is easily accessible via both mobile and desktop. This way, employees can reserve a space from anywhere at any time. A tool like the Space solution in Nuvolo Connected Workplace can help make a reservation system simple and seamless.

2. Are there spaces for people to store their personal items?

Hoteling in the workplace may lead employees to wonder: Where will I put my things? After all, having a traditional, dedicated desk does seem like the easiest way to keep one’s belongings safe. That’s why, with a hoteling system in place, organizations need to ensure that employees have convenient options for storing their personal items when they’re in the building.

Firstly, each desk should have a set of drawers, a shelf, or a cabinet for temporarily storing items like papers, binders, or writing materials. And while some employees may be fine with leaving their purses or wallets at the desks they’re using, it’s also a good idea to have a locker system where they can place these more valuable items.

Again, part of the benefit of a hoteling system is its predictability, and employees should know that no matter when they’re in the building, they and their personal belongings will always be secure.

3. What sanitation procedures are in place?

The global pandemic has made people more health-conscious than ever before. Even when things return to normalcy, there’s likely to remain a heightened awareness around workplace cleanliness and sanitation. But with multiple people sharing the same workstation, how can you ensure that all areas are being properly sanitized?

That’s where an automated work order system like Nuvolo Connected Workplace can help. By integrating your facilities maintenance system with your space management and reservation system, it can automatically generate work orders for standard procedures like cleaning desks and refilling hand sanitizer stations. That way, employees can rest assured they’re being safe and sanitary every time they arrive in the office.

4. Is private meeting space available for booking?

Hoteling systems encourage collaboration and relationship-building with their open and ever-changing seating configurations. But sometimes it’s necessary to have a quiet space to do group work or discuss sensitive topics. Be sure to make conference rooms or other large, private spaces bookable in your space reservation system. That way employees can plan ahead of time to gather without fear of interruption or being overheard.

5. Do employees have a convenient way to locate people and places?

While the physical layout of a hoteling office may not change, the configuration of people throughout the office almost certainly will. And without any way of knowing where others are, employees may waste valuable time walking around looking for someone they need.

An interactive wayfinding map is an excellent way to solve this problem. Using a real-time, cloud-based solution that’s accessible by all employees enables people to easily find each other when they need to. If Employee A needs to find Employee B, they can simply pull up the map on their phone or laptop and see exactly where that person is sitting.

This is also useful for new employees who aren’t yet familiar with the layout of the office. Using the same map, they can see where all rooms, devices, and people are located. This might even save them an awkward question or two during their first days on the job!

Implementing Hoteling in the Workplace 

Is a hoteling system right for your organization? It can be a tough call to make, especially if you’re used to a traditional seating system. But in the long run, a hoteling system can potentially help you right-size your real-estate portfolio and save costs while better accommodating employee work styles and schedules.

Before making the leap, just to be sure to talk through the questions above—and any other relevant questions—with your team. And consider using a cloud-based integrated workplace management system (IWMS) like Nuvolo Connected Workplace to make the transition as simple and effective as possible.