What is the best flexible desk strategy for your office: hot desking or hoteling?

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Executive Summary

Hot desking definitions
What are the benefits of hot desking?
What are the disadvantages of hot desking?
Hoteling Definition
The benefits of hoteling
The disadvantages of hoteling
How technology creates a great hot desking and hoteling experience

Hybrid working has transformed the traditional office as we know it.

The modern workplace has become a venue where staff come together to collaborate, to exchange ideas and learn. A key characteristic of the modern workplace is the need for hot desks.

There are two different strategies that workplace leaders can adopt when it comes to managing hot desks – hot desking or hoteling.

Let us explore the definitions, what the benefits and disadvantages are of both strategies and how technology can be applied to manage desks and create a great employee experience.

Hot desking definitions

Hot-desking is an organizational workspace system where desks are utilized by various individuals at separate times, on a flexible and ad hoc basis. The primary goal is to optimize space optimization and to minimize redundant office space.

The flexibility of hot-desking is commonly associated with fostering employee innovation, and it is great for promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration.

In its purest form, an employee comes to work, finds a desk, plugs in and starts their working day.

What are the benefits of hot desking?

Hot desking delivers several benefits including:

Cost savings

You can reduce your real estate footprint by needing fewer desks than you would have in a traditional office set up.


For hybrid workers, they can come into the office to collaborate when they please and when they need to collaborate face to face. For deep work, they may prefer to work from home with fewer distractions.

Cross-functional working

As staff are not restricted to the same desk they get the opportunity to sit with team members from other departments – often sharing and capitalizing on innovative ideas.

What are the disadvantages of hot desking?

This approach has some few disadvantages:

Not providing enough workspaces

If many staff arrive at the office at the same time, this can lead to frustration if there is not enough seating capacity.

Lack of personalization

Some workers like to have their own space which they can put their own personal stamp on. This is not possible in a hot desking environment where desks must be kept clutter-free as they are used by multiple staff.

A culture clash

Some staff and even managers may be resistant to change. This may lead to less adoption of this new way of working.

Hoteling Definition

Office hoteling is a method of office space management where employees schedule desks, meeting rooms, and other resources in advance, as opposed to having a fixed workstation or selecting an available space upon arrival. It is akin to booking a hotel room in advance – hence the name!

In contrast to the unstructured nature of hot desking, office hoteling operates on a more organized reservation-based structure. It eliminates uncertainty regarding desk availability, offers oversight of real-time occupancy levels, and provides individuals with the flexibility to work in the office area that best suits their productivity needs.

The benefits of hoteling

There are many benefits of hoteling:

Enhanced flexibility

Hoteling provides the freedom for employees to select a workspace that suits their preferences, whether it is a bustling area or a quiet corner.

Assured desk availability

With many offices reducing their physical space and available desks, the anxiety of not finding a desk during an office visit becomes a real concern. Hoteling ensures employees are guaranteed a desk, and if needed, they can easily reschedule their visit.

Improved engagement

Providing individuals with control over their work environment enhances comfort and engagement. Hoteling addresses this need by allowing employees to choose a space that aligns with their personal preferences.

Enhanced collaboration

Unlike hot desking, hoteling prevents teams from becoming scattered. For projects involving multiple teams, employees can reserve seats in proximity to one another, reducing the time spent in formal meetings. Quick collaborations become more accessible, fostering efficiency.

Facilitates networking

Knowledge of seating arrangements facilitates better networking among employees. This is particularly advantageous for new hires, helping them integrate faster. Additionally, leaders can build stronger connections with their teams by working closely with them.

Boosts productivity

The ability for employees to choose their preferred desk positively impacts productivity. Hoteling streamlines collaboration, expediting work processes. This flexibility not only enhances team productivity but also allows businesses to optimize space effectively, contributing to cost savings.

The disadvantages of hoteling

There are some disadvantages to office hoteling:

Lack of personalization

Many employees value the sense of having a dedicated workspace. The absence of a designated desk in hoteling may make them feel disconnected from the company as they shift workspaces daily. Additionally, the need to pack up and relocate each day can be inconvenient, making it challenging to garner employee acceptance.

Sanitation concerns

Maintaining cleanliness in shared workspaces can be a challenge with office hoteling. The constant movement of employees between different work areas may limit the cleaning crew’s ability to thoroughly sanitize each space. This poses a health risk due to the potential accumulation of dirt and germs. Implementing a cleaning plan, such as having employees wipe down their workstations or scheduling cleaning times, is crucial to address this concern.

Handling emergencies

Desk hoteling may complicate handling emergencies. Employees seeking last-minute workspaces may struggle to find available ones, and even if they do, these spaces might lack essential resources like printers or projectors. This situation can lead to genuine emergencies such as missed deadlines or presentations, emphasizing the need for a contingency plan.

Challenges for support staff

While office hoteling enhances workplace efficiency, it can present challenges for support staff like IT professionals and administrative assistants. The dispersed nature of employees makes it difficult for support staff to provide assistance, and they may lack access to familiar resources such as specific printers or phones. Considering the needs of support staff before implementing office hoteling is vital, as they may benefit more from a traditional desk setup with consistent resources.

How technology creates a great hot desking and hoteling experience

Whether you choose to go down the hot desking route or implement hoteling or a combination of both, technology will help in several ways:

Space utilization

Whether you choose to offer hot desking or hoteling you need to have a system in place for maximizing space utilization.

In the hot desk scenario, an occupancy solution is our recommendation. Using occupancy sensors, real estate leaders can see in real-time how busy their desk estate is while also building an historical data set of occupancy levels and patterns.

In the hoteling scenario, workplace leaders have a great deal of control over how their space is allocated. A hot desk reservation system such as our Rendezvous Workspace solution gives leaders control and flexibility.

With Rendezvous Workspace, individual team members can use the hot desk reservation system to book desks and the solution has an employee portal feature which allows leaders to book desks at once for their teams – a wonderful time saver and it is great for fostering collaborative neighborhoods.

A defined booking process

Like a hotel reservation system, the best hot desk booking software offers a clearly defined and easy to use booking process.

With the Rendezvous Workspace hot desking booking system, users are offered an intuitive mobile platform to book desks. With a few taps a desk can be chosen and booked and thanks to our floor plan feature they can simply select a free desk and book it directly from the floor plan. Once the desk is booked, the user is automatically sent a confirmation thanks to the seamless integration between hoteling software and Outlook.

A typical working day is going to involve more than sitting at a desk. You can also use the office hoteling software for more than booking desks. You can use the desk reservation system to book meeting rooms for team collaboration and add-ons through the hoteling desk reservation system such as refreshments, catering and AV equipment. The hoteling software integrates with Teams, Zoom and Webex so you can easily arrange hybrid meetings – ideal for a hybrid and distributed workforce.

Easy check in/out

Like a hotel, staff need to be able to check in/out easily of their desks. Unlike a hotel, there is no need to call into reception – the hot desking software takes care of the process automatically.

For organizations adopting the hoteling concept, the Rendezvous hoteling desk reservation system has a simple check in/out process thanks to integration with desk sensors. Staff can see immediately whether a desk is free, occupied or out for cleaning thanks to simple color-coding. They can simply scan a QR code on the desk using a mobile hoteling software app to check in/out. Or they can use an RFID card reader or the in-app check in feature. Whichever solution they use, it is simple, fast and touchless.

For organizations who adopt hot desking, we recommend the occupancy sensors. Integration with large digital signage displays, typically at reception, enables employees to see which desks are free on an intuitive floor plan. The employee walks to the free desk and sits down. The occupancy sensors will detect their presence and check them in. To check out – they simply get up and leave.

Improved productivity

As we mentioned above, having to search for a desk can be time-consuming. Thanks to the Rendezvous Workspace hoteling desk reservation system, staff arrive at the office safe in the knowledge that a desk is waiting for them and, if they so desire, with all the extras they need for a productive day like meeting rooms. Thanks to the Outlook integration they know where they need to be and when.

Time spent on looking for a desk can be spent on planning, creating or simply collaborating with colleagues.

Collaboration/find a colleague

While Rendezvous Workspace is the best hot desk booking software it is also a great aid in collaboration with a find a colleague tool which makes it easy for hybrid workers to see when their colleagues are in the office and where they are seated so they can make plans accordingly.

Another great time-saving feature with the Rendezvous Workspace hot desking booking software.

Data analytics

Thanks to both the Rendezvous hot desking booking system and the occupancy sensors you can build up a great picture of how your desk space is being utilized and also see what the trends are in desk occupancy on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

With these hot desking solutions in place workplace leaders have all the data they need to make informed decisions about future space configurations and can make swift decisions on how the space can be used today.

It is even possible to integrate the occupancy sensors and the office hoteling software to get a consolidated data set for even more accuracy and informed decision making.


The question was What is the best flexible desk strategy for your office: hot desking or hoteling? Our answer is that it depends on individual circumstances. For organizations with a large desk estate and/or a surplus supply of desks then a dedicated hot desk reservation system may not be necessary and occupancy sensors are the ideal solution.

For organizations with a high demand for desks and/or a tighter desk to employee ratio it may be better to implement a hoteling strategy using office hoteling software to maintain order.

The choice is yours. NFS can provide a solution which will meet your needs and create a wonderful employee experience.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you manage your desk estate get in touch today.