Hoteling is already becoming one of the most important workplace management trends in 2017. This form of reservation-based office scheduling is increasingly popular with both workers and employers because it simultaneously gives employees more control over their work-life balance while enabling management to control the cost of workspace.
Lately, shared workspaces and open floor plans have been most closely associated with tech startups, but office reservation systems have been used for decades in management consulting, legal services, and other fields requiring frequent travel for meetings. Today, hoteling is becoming increasingly popular across a wide range of industries because it is a flexible, efficient way to allocate workspace and optimize utilization of real estate assets.
Use these best practices to evaluate and improve your organization’s hoteling plan.
Identify and Track KPIs for Workspace Utilization
Measuring the success of your office hoteling system can be tricky because companies often lack objective data about workspace utilization. In a small business it might be easy to look around the office every day and see how space is used, but in larger organizations it is impossible for decision makers to measure utilization accurately without hard data.
It’s essential to determine your key performance indicators (KPIs) and track the effects of your hoteling policies over time. One metric that’s important to all organization is how many employees are assigned to a given building or office space, relative to capacity.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) implemented a hoteling strategy that effectively increased the occupancy of its headquarters building by more than 50%—enabling the agency to assign 3,400 people to a workspace previously occupied by 2,200.
Other key metrics include peak and average utilization: how many employees are not just scheduled or assigned to a location, but actually working there. Personal observations and anecdotal evidence can’t give a complete, accurate answer to this critical question. As a result, the use of occupancy sensors in the workplace is an increasing important component of a successful hoteling strategy.
Address Underutilized Space and Right-Size Your Real Estate
In a traditional office with assigned seating, everyone usually knows which locations are the best, but individuals don’t have much influence over where they work. But when employees have the power to reserve their preferred workspace, the most desirable spaces—for example, those with lots of natural light or more privacy—will generally get booked up first, while other spaces fill up last, if at all.
If you have a conference room or a block of shared workstations that seem to be perpetually vacant, there might be an obvious reason: lack of windows or privacy, distance from office amenities, proximity to main entryways or sources of noise. Organizations can significantly improve both employees’ experience at work and the cost-effectiveness of real estate investments by identifying underutilized areas and taking remedial action.
Accommodate the Diverse Needs of Your Workforce
Environmental factors such as natural light, noise, and amenities are one area to consider, but it is also critical to examine the nature of your people’s work. Open shared spaces can be great for creative teams or software programmers, but what about your HR teams or financial auditors?
A 2013 report on hoteling by the Government Accountability Office pointed out that hoteling “may not be appropriate” for all employees—especially those who handle sensitive documents. Even in an era of unprecedented mobility, some business functions still require private physical spaces.
Your hoteling plan needs to meet the needs of all employees to be successful—even if that means keeping some workers in dedicated offices, reserving specific spaces for specific departments, or making other accommodations.
Learn more about hoteling software best practices.
Read additional hoteling tips from the GSA.