Prior to joining EMS Software earlier this year, I spent several years working in the change management and organizational development space. In other words, for most of my career, I've studied ways that organizations can transfer knowledge and skills to employees so that they can be better problem solvers in a changing environment. What a valuable perspective this has turned out to be for my role at EMS!
With 1 in 3 workers expected to work remotely in some capacity by 2020, workplace flexibility is an increasingly important recruiting tool. Millennials in particular have come to expect these kinds of offerings in the workplace.
I've found that many of the companies I work with at EMS are attempting to embrace a more flexible workplace for their employees, yet they face challenges associated with organizational change—ranging from technical requirements to effects on employee morale and productivity.
In my experience, when an organization considers creating a shared workspace environment with free address workers or "hoteling" desks, their motivation is typically twofold:
- How can we maximize the real estate we have?
- How can we improve employee engagement through increased flexibility?
The benefits to employees and to an organization's culture are plain to see: employee satisfaction goes up while commuting time goes down, to name just one measure.
But before you jump into hoteling, first consider the following four tips for your hoteling strategy, which come directly from conversations I had with EMS customers in September at EMS Live!, our annual user conference..
- Establish Buy-in with Managers and Employees
Explain your motives for implementing hoteling so that employees understand that it's not simply the "flavor of the month," but rather, a part of a broader facilities management strategy. Consider hosting a breakfast to first familiarize managers with new processes and technology, and collect ongoing feedback from all employees through comment boxes or even a public white board. The feedback should be a recurring loop: regularly check back with your initial audience to gauge acceptance, understand fears, and identify obstacles.
- Determine Who Will Be Impacted
Assess employee flexibility based on organizational function and working style. Some employees may consistently work from home, on the road, in the office, or a blend of all the above. Which working groups would benefit most from flexible workplace technology? Based on these numbers you can start to determine how many desks per employee you need.
- Determine Where Hoteling Opportunities Exist in Your Office
Most commonly, organizations create "neighborhoods" where people will go to reserve a desk in the office. Consider fun names for neighborhoods that fit with your organizational culture, or invite employees to participate in a naming contest. Use analytics over time to see what groups are working from home compared to working in the office, and reconfigure neighborhood sizes accordingly.
You may need to give users a secondary neighborhood to use if their primary one is full. Designate leaders for each floor of a building or for each neighborhood, and ask them to huddle one or two times each month to ensure a consistently positive experience.
- Decide How Hoteling Will Be Implemented
What options do people have to book space and check in? Common practices include mobile applications, kiosks near an elevator or at reception, and a website or Outlook plug in. Check-in rules will allow you to track true utilization of workspace and re-open an unused desk to general inventory if a person does not check in within a designated window.
Consider a clean desk policy to ensure a fresh desk for the next day, and locating storage lockers near the desk to hold personal belongings.
Lastly, work with your IT department to understand what office technology needs to be integrated with your workspace reservation system, so that temporary workers can hit the ground running upon arrival.
If your organization is looking for a workplace strategy to help reduce real estate costs, improve employee (and contractor) productivity, and empower a more mobile workforce, EMS Software offers a complimentary needs assessment.
Contact us and we'll answer any questions you have about how scheduling software can help you implement a hoteling strategy that positively transforms your workplace culture—and improves your bottom line.