Ask yourself these 6 key questions when choosing a desk booking system

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Hybrid working has become the norm pretty quickly – and an important part of making it work is the giving quick access to a workspace when they come into the office.

One of the best ways to ensure your desk estate is being fully utilised is investing in a desk booking system. But before you plan this major move – you need to do a scoping exercise and ask yourself some key questions.

The key questions

Ask yourself these 6 key questions when selecting desk booking software.

1) Desk booking or desk availability? Both?

In an ideal world, your staff should be able to turn up to work and grab the first available desk. But in the real world they waste a lot of time and endure a lot of frustration trying to find a workspace.

If you find yourself in the situation where demand for desks outstrips supply, desk booking software is the answer. It creates an orderly process for staff to follow, which is great for planning their week ahead and ensuring that “their” desk is ready and waiting for them.

On the other hand, if you do find yourself with an oversupply of space, then desk availability is a great route to take particularly if staff are doing any kind of activity based team working. Based on sensor technology there is no need for staff to pre-book – they simply find the desk or huddle space on a digital signage display, walk up to it, sit down and start working. The sensors detect the presence of the staff member. Once they go home – the desk is available again.

A third option is to offer both. That way they get the best of both worlds – a selection of pre-booked desks for quiet deep work and/or the first available huddle space for impromptu collaboration.

2) What about the user experience?

An agile workforce largely runs on mobile computing – laptops and mobile phones. When evaluating desk booking software, you need to think about this mobile-first user experience. Booking a desk should be as easy as ordering a delivery from Deliveroo or a car from Uber.

Mobile apps with floorplan booking are the most user-friendly way for staff to select and book a desk. Thanks to integration with Outlook the booking is populated in their diary automatically. The whole booking process is achieved in a couple of minutes.

No complicated booking process and no need to re-key in the booking – convenience all the way.

Many of our clients report that thanks to agile working they are reporting improvements to traditional departmental silos and more cross-functional working – the sweet spot where ideas happen. Check out the video below for more information

3) Is it really efficient?

Yes, it is. Where previously it would take workers up to 30 minutes on average to find a desk, a mobile app can manage a desk booking in less than a couple of minutes. Of course, staff need more than desk so the app needs to be flexible. You can book meeting rooms, video conferences and catering – all through the app.

For PAs and other power users we also offer a QuickBook option available both on the desktop and mobile so if they need to book multiple desks and meetings as part of their job they can do it in a fraction of the time.

4) What about social distancing?

You need to look for a desk booking system that has the ability to automatically block out surrounding desks when making a booking.

Using the floorplan, workers can easily see which desks are free and which are blocked. This is very reassuring and makes selecting a safe desk super-easy.

Of course, if the desk is only to be used part of the day then you need to know when to have it cleaned and when it is going to be available again. Look for desk booking software that has cleaning times and service alerts to cleaning operatives tightly integrated with the booking process.

If you want to go one step further, look for desk sensors integrated with the desk booking system – staff can easily see when a desk is available and when it is out of service as it’s being cleaned thanks to easy to understand colour coding and supporting text.

5) What about “no shows”?

With the expense of real estate climbing inexorably higher you don’t want to have empty desks. Nor do you want to disappoint staff who can’t use a desk because a colleague hasn’t shown up but their desk is, theoretically, booked out.

Look for a desk booking system that has built-in business rules to mitigate against “no shows”. If after, say, a 15-minute grace period the booker hasn’t appeared, the desk can be auto-released for someone else to book.

6) What is the return on investment?

A desk booking system is a key tool in helping to aid the understanding of how space is being utilized. Based on the triangulation of booking data and data taken from the sensor technology, you can accurately measure how the space has been used in the past and make some informed predictions about future space requirements.

You can easily see which desks are being used, and when, as well as getting key data about occupancy. With many organizations planning to downsize, this information is invaluable when it comes to making decisions about what space is realistically going to be required in the future.

Conclusion

The old days of the 9 to 5 office grind are well and truly over. Both workers and real estate professionals are preparing for more flexible working with a few days a week spent in the office.

As a result, many organizations are beginning to shrink their office space. Having a robust desk booking system is imperative in this new working environment, where supply of desks will be squeezed while real estate leaders will need to make a business case for their existing desk estates.

A tool that can optimize desk ratios is an investment that will quickly pay for itself – especially when it can be easily demonstrated that mobile desk booking is saving workers a significant amount of time and reducing frustrating obstacles to getting their job done.

So when it comes to selecting a desk booking system, choose wisely, and choose well. Your organization – and your colleagues – will thank you for it.