Hot Desking & Desk Booking

Hoteling Hacks for Facility Managers

David Spence
January 14th, 2016

A facilities manager’s job is a delicate balancing act. He or she must deal with new employees coming in, old ones going out, and seating arrangements that constantly change as a result. To save money, some companies have turned to hoteling. Hoteling is the practice of letting workers reserve desks in an office instead of providing permanent, assigned desks. But do you know about these hoteling hacks for facility managers to make the hoteling process even better?Done well, hoteling can be a cost-saving resource that allows people to work in areas best suited to their needs. Done poorly, it can be a logistical sore that causes frustration. To help with the process, here’s a guide to the major bases you need to cover, from buying desk booking software to troubleshooting staff needs.

What is hoteling? Hoteling is the process in which office workers do not have any assigned seating. Instead, they may “check in” to an open seat or take one on a first-come, first-serve basis; however, it is different from hot desking in that a reservation is required. Let’s take a look at nine hoteling hacks for facility managers:

Consider whether hot desking or hoteling is appropriate

First things first, before you tear down that cubicle, think about whether hot desking or hoteling would be a good solution for your organization. Hoteling can only be successful for certain companies, and won’t be efficient for all industries across the board. Workforce magazine suggests it’s not ideal for workers who handle a lot of confidential information, and some suggest it’s not a good fit for workers whose jobs require them to be in the office 50 percent of the time. Older workers, who may need specific accommodations may also feel uncomfortable with a hoteling system. If you feel it’s right for your organization, and you’re game to give it a try, read on.

hoteling desk

1. Prepare the space for hoteling

For smaller spaces, all desks should have basic supplies, like legal pads, sticky notes, pens, etc. Computers should all carry updated versions of the company’s software. If there aren’t computers at each desk, make sure that the space is near an outlet so workers can plug in their laptops. It may be harder to keep each desk stocked, so consider having a central supply closet or cabinet where workers can easily access the items they need. Hoteling desks should be clean, sanitized, and have everything a worker needs for the day.

2. Create different zones

Support your colleagues’ work activities by providing different zones where they can complete different types of tasks. Individual work stations can serve for solo work, while tables in more open areas or conference rooms can support collaborative work. Private areas for phone conversations or one-on-one meetings are also a good idea.

3. Have a hoteling space for shorter visits

One potential problem is the workers who need to drop by the office for just a short visit. They may reserve the space for a certain amount of time, only to use it for a fraction of that reserved time. To accommodate these visits, try having smaller spaces that will offer things the wandering worker would need, such as a computer, waste bin, stool or chair, etc. Having only the bare essentials will discourage workers who may invite themselves to settle there and leave the visiting worker without a place to work.

4. Think about cloud storage and technology needs

Especially if your colleagues aren’t using the same computer each day, it’s important to have a system that will let them store and share their files easily. This could mean using a collaboration program that facilitates file sharing. If this isn’t logistically possible when you implement your hoteling program, talk with IT about the best ways for employees to securely save their data. Facilities and IT make great allies in general, especially when a company uses facilities software like OfficeSpace.

hoteling workspace

5. Talk to staff

When you’re introducing hoteling to staff, explain your reasons for making the switch. Perhaps you’ve noticed all the unused real estate is costing the company too much money. Or maybe you’ve noticed that workers are separated by their respective departments, and you want to encourage greater collaboration. Or, maybe both. Your company may even be embracing the hybrid workplace and using hoteling as part of this dynamic solution. Whatever the reasons may be, the more clear and more specific you are, the more likely workers will be willing to jump on board.

6. Purchase desk booking software

Hoteling may be difficult without a reservation system to hold the process together. Hoteling is much easier when you can simply consult a map and see what seats are available. OfficeSpace Software’s Visual Directory™ lets you do exactly that. Without this protection, it could be easy for resentment to rise from territorial conflicts. With OfficeSpace, you can also set permissions that will only allow an admin to assign seats, so end users can’t simply change their assignments or cause any confusion over who’s sitting where.

7. Discuss the process

Once you’ve purchased the software, send staff a memo explaining the process for reserving a desk. Who do they check in with? What do they do when they’re leaving for the day? This is also a good time to stress the importance of office etiquette. Explain their belongings must be cleared out at the end of the day, and the space must be cleaned of any messes, etc.

8. Troubleshooting

Even with a careful introduction, an office is bound to run into some difficulties with hoteling. Facility Innovations has an excellent guide to dealing with potential problems, such as status envy.

In some cases, it may be the size of the staff, and not the industry itself, that requires hoteling. This may cause some tension when workers have to use different desks every time they come in, while execs walk into their own corner offices. Facility Innovations suggests that facilities departments can offer small tokens of appreciation to reward hoteling employees for their sacrifice. Reservation staff can also be instructed to recognize hoteling workers as ‘doing a service, not being a nuisance, by making a reservation.’

9. Plan for overflow

Whenever people are faced with news of a difficult situation, like a bad winter storm, their first instinct is to prepare for the worst-case scenario. If they hear that roads will be shut down, they’ll make a beeline for the grocery store to stock up their pantries. Likewise, if workers see a day when all the spaces in the office are taken, they may then get in the habit of making emergency reservations, just in case they need them. Of course, if they don’t use them, this creates a bigger headache for others. FMs can plan for this by double-checking reservations against actual occupancy and using conference rooms as overflow space.



The more thought and effort that is put into hoteling, the better chance it has of succeeding, especially if you follow the above hoteling hacks for facility managers. When you imagine every aspect of a worker’s experience—finding the right space for their needs, booking a desk and working there for the day—and plan around that, you can ensure a smoother launch when you begin your hoteling program. If you’d like to see how OfficeSpace can help your hoteling process, click here to request a demo.

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Photo: Shutterstock, Alesia Kazantceva, Tyler Franta