7 Practices You Can't Ignore When Implementing Office Hoteling

April 19, 2018


Open floor plans and office hoteling can offer benefits like increased collaboration and lower real estate expenses, but the switch must be done in a way that's right for your organization and employees. After you’ve carefully determined whether office hoteling is right for your company, following these seven best practices will ensure that your new office strategy serves the needs of your employees and is seen as a positive change for your organization.

Office Hoteling Best Practices

  1. Create a variety of spaces.
    When it comes to effective workspaces, there is no single best setup, even when you’re considering the needs of just one individual. Take the marketer who, over the course of one day, might brainstorm with other team members about new initiatives, work with another department on external events, and require focused, alone time to create new material.

    For the many employees whose roles require this level of flexibility, the ability to choose from among a mixture of spaces will enable them to be at their most productive. These spaces can range from cozy seating areas to socially active hotspots to long tables. The best office designs accommodate these variations in working styles and goals.

  2. Allow for personalization.
    Glance around your current office building and you’ll probably see a number of ways in which employees have marked their “territory.” We like to display photos, arrange our belongings and materials in specific ways, and, in general, have some control over our working environment. Not surprisingly, one of the most common criticisms of office hoteling is that it often doesn’t allow for personalized spaces.

    Planning for sufficient personal storage can help mitigate this, as can providing a balance of diverse spaces that allow for a variety of personalities. The proof is in the numbers. At a recent EMS forum, David Watts, Managing Director of CCD Design & Ergonomics, presented a study that showed the enriched office – one in which employees can personalize their working environment – led to a 15% productivity gain.
  3. Employ a robust reservation system.
    Imagine showing up to work each morning not knowing where you’ll be stationed for the day or even being certain that there will be space available for you. This is one of the features of hot desking, a quasi-form of hoteling where desks are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The uncertainty can be stressful for some employees, and the system can also be counter-productive, such as when teams need to collaborate on a project but cannot find space to accommodate the entire group.

    An office hoteling system that allows for reservations is much more successful than the basic hot desking model. Look for a full-featured reservation platform that includes the ability to locate and reserve spaces based on user permissions; select from favorites or filter by room availability, type, and location; view details, photos, floor maps, and any resources tied to each space; and more.
  4. Enable notifications for missed check-ins.
    A reservation system can remove the pain of the uncertainty that sometimes goes along with flexible workspaces, but it also has the potential to be abused. Rather than risk needing a work space that isn’t available, employees will book places “just in case” and make long-term reservations that may not actually be necessary.

    When you set up hoteling that enforces simple check-in and check-out processes, you can identify no-shows and open space up to someone who will actually use it. Furthermore, this also helps ensure accurate utilization metrics. Which leads us nicely to:
  5. Make savvy use of utilization reports.
    Underutilized space is costly, and eliminating misused space is one of the primary drivers of the global move to office hoteling. Consider the experience of RAND Corporation, which saw a 40% increase in average occupancy when it remodeled its new workspace. But in order to reap these types of financial benefits, you need visibility into how your workspaces are being used.

    By capturing and analyzing utilization information, you can make data-driven decisions that lead to increased space utilization, reduced square footage per employee, and the elimination of wasted space.
  6. Keep workspaces healthy.
    As employees move from place to place throughout your building, they bring a lot of unwanted bits with them – namely, germs. Office hoteling increases the chances of spreading disease as individuals more frequently share desk spaces, docking stations, phones, and more. Because of this risk, it’s more important than ever to make sure your workspaces are as sanitary as possible, such as making antiseptic wipes widely available, reminding workers about the basics of good hygiene, and investing in regular deep-cleaning services.

    Good hygiene is just the start, however; there’s a whole school of thought around how solid foundational design can help keep a workplace healthy. As you design your space for office hoteling, be sure to consider other features such as standing desks, increased natural light, exposure to fresh air, and more.
  7. Get employees involved BEFORE you switch.
    Change is difficult, even when the people involved truly believe that the end result will be for the best in the long run. And if your employees aren’t onboard with proposed modifications, the process promises to be a lot more difficult – if not a downright failure.

    When making the switch to office hoteling, involve as many of those affected as possible, right from the start. Work to gather opinions and input from a small, representative group of employees who will be most affected by the change. Then, create a pilot project so that you can learn from your mistakes before they affect your entire organization. Lastly, have a change management strategy in place.

Mobilize Your Workforce with Hoteling

Successful office hoteling is more than just creating open spaces for improved collaboration or imposing hot desking for decreased real estate costs. It’s a comprehensive strategy for the modern workplace, and it must be done thoughtfully and systematically. To learn more about how EMS can help you support flexible, activity-based workspaces, visit the EMS Office Hoteling website.