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Office hoteling pros and cons for hybrid work

As hybrid work gains traction, companies must rethink how they want to allocate their offices. Office hoteling offers some advantages, but be careful of the pitfalls.

Hybrid workforce policies continue to be a popular option for enterprise organizations, prompting business leaders to consider revamping their existing office spaces into what's known as hoteling spaces. Doing so provides several useful advantages for employees as they transition to a regular schedule that includes both central office and remote work.

There are, however, several office hoteling pros and cons to consider before putting a plan into place. Let's look at what works and doesn't, as well as some technologies that can help organizations more efficiently manage hotel-style offices.

The benefits of hoteling spaces

When most think about the concept of desk space hoteling, what often comes to mind are commercial coworking spaces such as WeWork, Regus and Impact Hub. These businesses offer hoteling spaces with professional office desks equipped with a range of technologies, including high-speed internet access, printers, phones, and video conference hardware and software.

Hoteling spaces are akin to coworking business spaces with one important difference. Coworking spaces bring workers from a variety of businesses to a single site where they share the facilities. With hoteling, all the workers using the offices, conference rooms and supporting technology are employed by the same organization.

The benefits of hoteling for hybrid workforces include the following:

  • Consolidates workers into a smaller space, allowing the business to own or lease -- and heat or cool -- less square footage.
  • Reduces the need for furnishings and technology required to support employees.
  • Enables employees to manage their on-site visits based on their schedule and space availability.
  • Provides an outlet for workers who embrace the concept of hoteling and thus enjoy a change of scenery as they move from desk to desk.

The drawbacks of hoteling spaces

Not everything in the world of hoteling workspaces is considered beneficial or convenient, however. For example, there will be days when more employees need to visit the office than there are spaces available. This is often the case during busier times or if an all-hands business request is issued.

Not everything in the world of hoteling workspaces is considered beneficial or convenient, however. For example, there will be days when more employees need to visit the office than there are spaces available.

Keep in mind the fact that hoteling is typically designed to accommodate only a portion of the business's overall workforce. When overbooking occurs, a plan to prioritize reservations is a must so that employees are confident their spot is open before they travel to a corporate site.

Hoteling also differs from hot desking, which enables employees to simply arrive and sit at any available desk. Hoteling requires a digital reservation system through which employees preemptively request a site or space based on their needs. To that end, hoteling requires more technology to support the operation, but it can also complicate situations where employees require the following:

  • Desks close together for improved cooperation efficiency.
  • Access to specific spaces or technologies, such as video equipment or conference rooms.
  • Work locations based on specific employee disabilities.

To avoid these situations, ensure the reservation technology can support the work environment that employees require; otherwise, a balky system could dissuade employees from coming in to the office in the first place. Creating custom rules and classifying workers into categories based on personal and departmental requirements can help.

Evaluating hoteling reservation systems

Hoteling reservation systems have been around for quite some time, but several new tools and feature sets specifically cater to businesses that operate in a hybrid workforce environment. Among the unique features:

  • Systems that enable employees to reserve office space using a managed website, smart device application and physical kiosk located on site.
  • Intelligent software that manages the locations of office space based on the efficiency of in-building heating, cooling and lighting.
  • Designation of workspaces for business guests that provide additional data and physical security precautions.
  • Coordination of specific workspaces and employee groups for business departments and for those who commonly require access to business technologies, spaces for workers with disabilities, and areas in which social distancing can be enforced.
  • Integration with third-party tools, such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.
  • Unified multicampus and multifloor office space management.
  • Auto-login to desk phones, video conferencing equipment and other technologies.
  • Interoperation with digital signage to assist workers in finding their reserved spaces.

Is hoteling right for your business?

When considering office hoteling pros and cons, ensure the concept works from both a logistical and cultural perspective. While many businesses are satisfied with their hybrid policies, others are beginning to see cracks in the framework that have led to a loss of productivity. In some cases, business leaders are contemplating requiring employees to come back to the office on a far more regular basis. If this is the case at your organization, hoteling spaces won't be a good option, and desk assignments should revert to where they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.

If, on the other hand, the hybrid workforce model is working and is managed efficiently, hoteling spaces and technologies can be an elegant option for reducing building Capex and Opex by providing everything people require through a few clicks on a hoteling reservation system.

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