What Is Office Hoteling?
Already in practice by big-name enterprises like IBM, where in 2007 an ABC News article said it was saving the company “$100 million a year in real estate costs,” office hoteling is a business strategy built around the idea that work can get done anywhere. It’s been used since the 1990s, according to Margaret Rouse at Tech Target, and it essentially works like this: rather than employees going to the same desk for the same hours every day, they reserve office space when they need it. The goal is greater efficiency, reduced operating costs and improved productivity — all through a streamlined system empowering the workforce to get more done.
Is Office Hoteling Right for Your Business?
So how exactly does this concept work? According to research from Asure Software, already about two thirds of organizations are either using a workplace hoteling program or thinking about doing so. Does that mean it could it be useful for your business, too? What are the advantages and what do you need to know before jumping on board? To help answer these questions, let’s take a look at the ins and outs of office hoteling, right down to why this concept could become a business game-changer for you.
The Basics of Office Hoteling and How It Works
The simplest definition of office hoteling is that it’s an office reservation system. Rather than giving each employee his or her own desk and requiring attendance at the office eight hours a day, office hoteling means having a group of office spaces, such as offices, cubicles or conference rooms — that employees can reserve to use when they need them. Employees check in to these spaces and can have their phone numbers routed to their given desks. The practice may also be referred to as agile working, desk share, hot desking (although this term typically does not involve reservation capabilities) or using virtual workspaces.
Disadvantages and Advantages for Employees
Before a business launches an office-hoteling program, it’s important to understand potential downsides. Employees without personal offices may feel less secure, rooted and connected to a given company. As a report from the U.S. General Services Association points out, “a personal office is more than just some partitions and furniture. It represents stability, a sense of place in the organization, a way to express individuality and a hard earned symbol of rank.”
On the flip side, however, hoteling gives employees much more flexibility in terms of schedule and commute. They can telework, use satellite offices as needed and quit fighting rush-hour traffic. What’s more, hoteling often leads to faster results and greater productivity — which boosts employee morale even while benefiting the company as a whole.
How to Make the Most of Hoteling
Should you decide to implement hoteling in your company systems, here are some important tips to remember to save you trouble and time:
- Make Enough Space: Just like hotels have more rooms than they typically fill every night, your office space should have more openings than what’s required on an average day. When peak demand occurs, you need to have enough office spaces to accommodate it.
- Consider Both Short and Long Reservations: If you only offer half-day blocks of reservations, you may wind up with several spaces booked even when employees are just stopping in to have a meeting or send a few faxes. Choose a system that allows you to accommodate quick stop-in visits and full-day work sessions.
- Make It Easy to Connect: When you have workers in and outside the office who need to communicate with one another about given projects or jobs, it’s vital that they know how to get in touch. Hoteling software can show where workers are and how to reach them — giving your team members what they need to connect.
- Still Require Some Regular In-Office Time: Even with the majority of your workforce outside the office, still try to bring employees in on a regular basis. You might have them come in once or twice a week or once or twice a month, but getting that face-to-face time can help eliminate communication problems or concerns. Likewise, try to bring teams together in person at least once a quarter.
If your company already utilizes remote staff and/or employees who frequently travel, allowing for a more flexible office environment only makes sense. That’s why office hoteling is a worthwhile option. By reducing the expenses of office space and facilities, you can save your business money while also giving your team members several benefits. So ask yourself how hoteling might change the way your business works and give your employees greater incentives for productivity, and consider whether or not this option may be right for you.