The role of desk hoteling software in the new smart office

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While the return to work may have enjoyed some false starts, it is finally evident that the world of work is returning to normality. Or is it?

For those of us who have the privilege of working in the knowledge economy, world of work has changed significantly. Flexible working is here to stay.

In preparation for this, the progression to smart offices, where technology and design comes together to create collaborative working environments, designed for a more flexible workforce will be the new norm. The traditional 9-5, 5 days a week model is likely to be a less attractive proposal.

With this new operating model, desk space management will need to evolve to become much smarter.

The Evolution of the Workplace Ecosystem

Gone are the days when workers had a dedicated desk for life.

While tech companies, adept at managing distributed teams, have been early adopters of agile working, other sectors have embraced it too. In a radical move, Deloitte, have given their staff the freedom to choose where they work when they want with office space used for collaboration, training and client meetings.

While most companies may not be as bold as Deloitte, the idea of spending all day every day in the same desk, 9 to 5, 5 days a week is decidedly old-fashioned. While there may be some laggards, agile working looks set to become the norm.

Through the intelligent application of office design around collaborative working styles and the deployment of the correct technology, agile working can be made successful. Let’s explore the benefits of desk hoteling software, but first we’ll start with some definitions.

Hoteling vs Hot Desking

While the two terms are used interchangeably, they mean different things.

Hoteling refers to an allocated desk booking strategy which is analogous to a hotel booking scenario. Like hotel guests, users need to pre-book their desk and check in when they arrive and check out when they leave. In a Covid scenario, there is also a need to clean desks after use.

Hot desking is a more freewheeling style, with no booking required and/or no formal check in and check out process.

If desk space is at a premium, supply outstrips demand and space utilization is key, then hoteling is a more appropriate approach.

The multiple benefits of desk hoteling software

Like a hotel reservation system, desk hoteling software offers users an orderly booking process when they need a desk. Thanks to smart office technology, such as sensors and desk panels, the check in and out process is fast, frictionless and automatic.

Desk hoteling software delivers a number of key benefits:

Improved space utilization

According to office design specialists, NUO, between 30-40% of space is under-utilized every working day. This is a significant expense for organizations to bear and with organizations moving to smaller premises or building more satellite offices, the pressure is on to maximize space utilisation.

Thanks to desk hoteling software, it is possible to fully maximize your existing space and respond flexibly to changing space allocation. By enforcing a strict desk booking policy you match the space that you have available with demand.

Improving desk ratios can deliver significant ROI on your software investment while saving thousands of dollars in real estate costs.

Reverse hoteling

While desk hoteling can appear at first glance to be a rigid method of desk allocation, it needn’t be. Reverse hoteling is a feature of desk hoteling software which enables real estate leaders to repurpose fixed desk space temporarily to truly maximize their desk space.

A simple example of this would be when John goes on vacation and his permanent corner office is reallocated as a bookable desk. If demand outstrips supply while John is away then there is an optional desk now available. Once John returns, then his desk is automatically removed from the desk pool and is no longer bookable.

All part of a larger smart office ecosystem

Desk hoteling software can also be easily integrated with other solutions to become even more valuable. For example, integration with desk panels and RFID readers makes it easy for staff to check in and out of their desks while giving management 100% accurate data on desk utilization.

Integration with sensor technology means that staff can simply walk up to the desk and check in or walk away to check out for the ultimate touch-free booking experience. As an added bonus, if the desk booker doesn’t check in, the sensor will automatically free up the desk for someone else to book. Expensive desk no shows become a thing of the past – effortlessly.

A great user experience

As Uber, Airbnb and countless other successful companies have shown, users appreciate the convenience of being to book on a mobile app.

Offering users a mobile app to book desks offers them both speed and convenience. They can plan a whole day’s worth of desk bookings and meetings with ease.

New features such as floorplan booking make it even easier to select and book the required desk with the minimum number of touches. With social distancing built in and clearly visible on the floorplan, they can rest assured they will be safe and with Outlook integration they can rest assured that their schedule is always up to date.

desk hoteling software

More than just desks

Collaboration is considered a key driver in today’s smart office. Going forward, organizations will be repurposing their space to include more areas for collaboration and the application of unified communications for meeting rooms will drive a more connected collaboration experience.

Look for a desk hoteling software that will do more than just book desks. It needs to manage the booking of meeting rooms and, increasingly, video conferences. Integration between the booking application and Teams/Zoom enabled meeting rooms is another example of the smart office delivering more of what the user community needs.

Conclusion

The world of work is changing and most forward-looking corporate offices will now be looking at how they can fully utilize, or expand, their technology stack to create the optimum agile experience for their staff.

Desk hoteling software is a key part of this process as it formalizes the whole process of desk allocation and, put simply, ensures that staff can get a desk when they need it. A simplified mobile user interface makes the whole process seamless and integration with smart technology such as sensors makes the whole check in/out process totally touchless. On a deeper level, adopting desk booking across an organization can foster greater cross-functional working – check out the IDC case study below.

If smart offices are predicated on productivity then a time-saving scheduling platform is a must-have and a key component of your back to work strategy.