Office Design

The Deskless Office Worker

David Spence
August 1st, 2013


Around 35 to 40 percent of offices don’t use all of their allotted space; having workers use any available desk can cut down on the waste of resources by consolidating them instead. For example, a consulting firm or company with a large sales force will have a large number of employees who are only in the office for 1-2 days per week, therefore multiple employees can use a smaller number of desks. In general many companies try to achieve a 10:9 or 10:8 ration; meaning 10 employees for every 9 or 8 desks. The strategic use of seating lets the company save on the cost of unused desk space. In major cities around the world, the cost to provide a workstation to an employee can easily reach $5,000-$10,000 per year once all the factors are taken into account. Most of this amount is the lease cost per square footage, but there are other costs which need to be included, such as additional facilities and IT costs to support that workstation.

New neighbors, every day

Another benefit is increased worker interaction. Rather than just having contact with their own departments, workers can get to know employees from other divisions. The improved rapport can lead to a better workplace environment, since it can help overcome divisions that occur with a normal company where one department’s workers are clustered together. For projects that span multiple departments, hoteling can let employees work together more easily. Plus, it can break down barriers between management and other workers, if seating arrangements change every day.

Employee collaboration

Many companies also use hoteling and a flexible work environment to provide a completely different work environment. Rather than assigning each department a certain number of desks in their zone, desks will be assigned on a project by project basis. If there are five different departments involved in a project, for example, having a flexible work environment with a hoteling model allows projects to be ramped up and down much more quickly as the business needs change. Allowing these employees to hotel and work in a desk assigned to the project, vs. far off in their own department zone, provides a more collaborative approach to work and project delivery. Once the project is completed and a new one is started the team is disbanded and a new team is built quickly and efficiently.


With hoteling, a worker comes in, sets up his or her devices, then clears them out at the end of the day. They don’t have to deal with computers they’re not used to. They can just set up their tech and go. For smaller companies, hoteling is a huge plus, because they don’t have to spend lots of dollars on unnecessary hardware.

One size doesn’t fit all, though

Hotdesking is popular among younger workers. Some 86 percent of 200 workers surveyed by Project Office Furniture in the UK said they liked the flexible environment afforded by hotdesking. However, older workers, who are used to more stability aren’t as pleased. Some don’t like having to lug heavy laptops or other items from one place to another every day. If you’re considering applying hot-desking to your own company, you may want to consider things such as the demographics of your office, the amount of part-time vs. full-time workers employed, the type of work involved by each department, and the amount of excess space in the building.

How office management software can help

If you do decide that you want to use hot-desking, office management software can help workers and managers alike. End users can immediately spot open spaces with visual maps that will let them know what desks are available, then reserve the spaces. The ability to reserve their seats formally can cut down on the territory wars that may plague hoteling offices (such as times when a worker leaves a personal item in a seat after close of business, to reserve the space for the next day). Furthermore, the software can let others know where to find other hoteling employees quickly and easily, so they don’t have to search all over for them. If the environment is more structured, with an admin or manager reserving spaces, the software can let that person book or vacate a space for the worker.

Hoteling isn’t right for all offices. Some workers like it; others hate it. If you do decide to implement hoteling in your office, however, be sure to have a software that will support your seating system. A feature like OfficeSpace’s Visual Directory™ will help you keep track of each worker, regardless of the constant shuffle, and it will cut down on conflicts over seats. With software to keep the peace, the work day can proceed without any problems.

photo credit: slworking2 via photopin cc