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Office Hoteling 101: Your Guide and Best Practices

Discover the benefits of office hoteling, potential disadvantages, and six best practices to implement in your hybrid office environment.



Office hoteling allows employees to reserve spaces as needed instead of providing each person with an assigned desk. As a result, it can help reduce real estate costs for businesses and improve productivity for employees who split their time between remote and on-site work environments.

It looks like hoteling spaces are here to stay in the new normal, as many workers now prefer the option to work from home at least some of the time. And since the benefits of office hoteling extend to employees and businesses alike, it's a welcome change.

This guide will explore what office hoteling is and how it can add value to your business. We've also included tips for creating a hoteling space your employees will love.

What Is Office Hoteling?

Office hoteling, also known as desk hoteling or hoteling, is a space management practice that uses unassigned seating. Employees can use booking software and mobile apps to reserve desks within the coworking space when they need to work on-site. This gives them the flexibility to work when and how they want.

Despite how it may sound, office hoteling isn't new — it's a part of the alternative officing trend, and it dates back to the late 1990s. During this time, hoteling was popular with consulting, accounting, and tech firms, but it didn't catch on the way it has today.

Today’s Hoteling Spaces

As businesses find their footing in the new norm, hoteling is making a big comeback. It's emerging alongside office management strategies like hot desking and hybrid workplaces as a popular way for businesses to cut costs and make the most of their square footage in a changing world.

Hybrid work arrangements are in high demand among employees, too. According to a 2021 study, the pandemic forced around 43% of full-time workers to adapt to remote work, and over 25% planned to keep working exclusively from home. Conversely, only 23% of employees prefer full-time, on-site arrangements as we adjust to the new norm.

Most workers would prefer to work from home at least one day per week. And with assigned seating, their desks are empty when they work remotely, but the employer still pays for that office space. Office hoteling solves this issue.

Benefits of Office Hoteling

If you're interested in switching up your workplace strategy, office hoteling adds flexibility that many traditional office models lack. Here are some of the benefits it offers:

  • Improved space utilization: Leasing fees are expensive, especially if you're paying for unused workstations and meeting rooms. Hoteling enables companies to optimize their space management strategies for hybrid work schedules. This means that a business can support the same number of employees (or more) with less square footage.
  • Remote worker support: The hoteling model makes it easier to support your remote employees by providing an accessible way to work on-site and in-person with fellow team members from time to time. Desk booking allows remote workers to reserve desk space ahead of time, so they don't have to worry about coming in only to find that all the desks are taken. Likewise, hoteling systems can help full-time on-site workers transition to hybrid or off-site work.
  • Increased productivity: The option to work from home can boost employee productivity and happiness. Flexible workspaces can also improve teamwork and collaboration by allowing team members to work together in collaborative spaces. In addition, getting employees into the office encourages them to socialize. This raises morale, which further increases productivity.
  • Better employee experience: Office hoteling software can help improve your employee experience beyond morale and happiness. With more structure than hot desking, hoteling ensures that employees have real-time information about how many desks are available. This can be crucial for employees with a delicate work-life balance or personal responsibilities like caretaking.

What Are the Disadvantages of Hoteling Spaces?

As with all office layouts and workplace designs, office hoteling comes with pros and cons. Here are potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Disruptions and confusion: An office with a reservation system will likely have more disruptions than a permanent desk layout. Many hoteling setups feature open office layouts, which means higher noise levels. And employees may struggle to figure out who's in-office and where they are, which can be challenging for newcomers. An on-site concierge or desk coordinator can help ease confusion, and cubicle options can help those who struggle to focus.
  • No personal space: Some employees may miss keeping permanent desks and personal belongings in their office and dislike having to take everything home at the end of the day. This can also create security issues since employees share space. Adding employee lockers can help resolve some of these issues.
  • Employee responsibility: Successful hoteling requires employee understanding and cooperation. They must keep track of belongings, clean and sanitize workstations before leaving, and check in and out so the system has accurate occupancy information. This can create a learning curve during the transition period and for new workers.

6 Office Hoteling Best Practices

Following best practices for hoteling spaces will help you prevent avoidable issues and make the transition smooth. Below, you'll find six simple tips to make hoteling a success in your office.

1. Involve Your Employees Early

Your employees need to be on board for a successful shift to hoteling. Springing last-minute change on everyone will only cause stress and confusion. Involve your staff in the planning process, open a suggestion box, and find out what everyone needs to be comfortable with the change.

Talking to your employees can help you find what works best for your office and make the transition as smooth as possible.

2. Create Structure

Effective hoteling spaces require an excellent structure for communication and security. You'll want to outline how employees will communicate with team members and keep their belongings secure in a flexible work environment.

Implement communication and security standards, train your existing employees on them, and include them in your onboarding process.

3. Invest in Reliable Reservation Software

Hoteling can fall apart without reliable reservation software. A reservation system with real-time updates, easy check-ins, short-notice options, and seat mapping will make life easier for everyone. Larger businesses might also consider hiring a desk coordinator to answer questions and resolve issues.

4. Design for Productivity and Diversity

Intentional design can help make your hoteling space feel organized, clean, and uplifting, as office design elements like lighting, color, and workspace design significantly impact your employees. For example, exposure to bright, natural light or blue-enriched light bulbs can help boost productivity, energy, and mood. And white tends to be the least distracting color in the office.

Also, don't forget to design for diversity — your employees will likely have a wide range of workspace preferences. Offer a variety of workstations, such as standing desks, cubicles, quad desks, open spaces, and private work areas so that each person can choose what's best for them.

5. Choose Ergonomic Furniture

The best hoteling spaces are comfortable and enjoyable to spend time in, and ergonomic furniture can help. Ergonomically designed office furniture meets the needs of our bodies, supporting them as well as possible through long days spent sitting in the same position.

Ergonomics in the office can also show your employees that you value their health and safety, which can help improve morale, engagement, efficiency, and turnover rates. So opt for ergonomic office chairs at desks and in conference rooms, and offer sit-to-stand desks so that employees can fight the drawbacks of sitting too much.

6. Make Sanitization Easy for Everyone

Sharing desks means sharing germs without proper sanitization, so cleaning must be accessible. Set up sanitization stations around the office, make cleaning supplies readily available, and streamline the process to encourage employees to follow the rules.

Ready to Make the Switch?

Switching to office hoteling isn't hard when you plan ahead. If you're ready to make the change, get your employees involved and think about what your business needs from its hoteling space.

And when you're ready to buy office furniture, we're here to help. Our Design My Office feature will provide personalized, ergonomic recommendations for your space, no matter how many employees you have.

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