Facility manager planning working from hoteling

The New WFH – Working from Hoteling

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fastest growing facility design concepts

By Casey Murphy

As we all face the challenges of a new world under the shroud of a global pandemic, moving forward is at the top of our minds. One critical topic is how to return to the office. While there are myriad of options, a very promising method is hoteling, also known as “hot desking”. Hoteling is a system of unassigned seating in a corporation’s building, or a “co-working” space that specializes in this concept. An employee will reserve a workstation based on their current needs within their given space ahead of time, or arrive with an “open ticket”. This gives the workers options to access desking, conferencing, and amenities. Some of the largest companies in the world rely on a concierge or facility manager to maintain their hoteling workplace system to ensure their employees are productive, engaged and comfortable with whatever their duties may entail. The greatest benefits to hoteling are that this system allows a company to reduce its physical footprint by having a lower ratio of desks to employees, while promoting collaboration and movement within a space. Although it may seem as though this could be derailed with the movement to work from home, it has continued to be one of the fastest growing facility design concepts in the last several years. According to Coworking Resources, a publication serving as a resource for facility spaces, the forecast for coworking office spaces with hoteling design “is projected to reach almost 20,000 this year and cross over 40,000 by 2024. While the industry is set to grow at a slower pace in 2020, we expect growth to rebound and develop even more rapidly from 2021 onwards, with a yearly growth rate of 21.3%” (Di Risio, 2020). With these types of sharable offices being readily available, workplaces will maintain or improve their hoteling strategies to keep up with trends for employee comfort and productivity.

Solutions

The initial, preliminary precautions taken include temperature checks of employees, sanitization stations, and frequent cleaning. Even with these measures, a seasoned facility manager will want to engage further action to bring employees and clients greater comfort level. This will bring about great success for the worker, the facilities team, and your corporation’s bottom line.

Integrated technologies will support a COVID-safe environment. A hoteling space can offer sophisticated teleconferencing to reduce the number of people in face-to face meetings. This can be in a medium sized conference space with socially distanced seating, or even appropriate headsets and miniature cameras at each desk location. An additional technology benefited by hoteling spaces is instant connectivity. A facility manager can incorporate connectivity within workstations that allow instantaneous setup time when an employee arrives at their workstation. Aside from normal startup time, hoteling workstations offer easy and adaptable connectivity to whatever the workstation may entail. This could include immediate network and voice connections as well as laptop charging stations already available at the workstation. Since these hoteling technologies are meant for adaptability, they sometimes offer even more efficiency and productivity than permanent workstations with only one streamlined workstation type.

Proper space planning is a facility manager’s best friend when it comes to the new normal in work space. This can often be done with ingenuity and a little elbow grease, there is not always a need to purchase new furniture. A simple option is to “close off” every other desk in a space to ensure than only a portion of desks are utilized. For example, the common “6-Pack” type of work station configuration can have the center two desks turned into “safe zones”, so that only 2/3 of desks are available for use. This supports social distancing as well as reduced indoor densities recommended by the CDC (Fluker, 2020). Another option is to reconfigure desks to outward facing perimeter positions. These concepts offer both physical distance as well as piece of mind for all coming into a space.

Scheduling Services are a huge benefit to the co-working type of facility that utilizes hot desking. HF Planners, LLC asked for insight from client Merri Sheh, Owner of EnMasse Coworking in Morristown, NJ. Merri operates a thriving coworking space that “redefines coworking by offering entrepreneurs, remote corporate employees, and small & large business owners the opportunity to network, connect and collaborate in a professional yet warm and welcoming environment.” Sheh uses an example of a type of client that has grown since the start of the pandemic:

An American corporation needs office space for approximately 100 people, but on a rotating schedule. EnMasse offers 20 seats (3 offices, 8 desks), but an additional premium fee for each of the 100 people authorized to use those seats. Corporation sends EnMasse a list of personnel coming for the day, with Photos, so that usage can be traced and tracked if necessary. (No unauthorized people may enter daily). Permitted M-F, 9-5 only. En Masse offers the service of what would be a very complex scheduling matrix.

This saves the corporation the headache and cost of hiring a full-time employee to perform this task, and has a highly experienced concierge performing the task.

Benefits

While working from home may have its perks, like the ability to wear sweatpants to a meeting or eradicating a time-consuming commute, very few home offices can provide a fully functional workspace. Employer review site Glassdoor actually found that 72 percent of employees are ready to get back into their office space due to a variety of needs that working from home does not cater to (Fluker, 2020). Hoteling offers immediate need-based workstations to employees, without the pressure of having a permanent space that they have to report to everyday. Ergonomic seating, printers and efficient copy machines are all necessary for effective work but not always present in the home office. Co-working spaces that offer hot desking provide employees with much needed socialization in a safe and controlled environment, where they are able to interact with people face -to (masked) face. Under the guidance of a facility manager implementing a hoteling workplace strategy, getting employees back into the office based on their daily needs is easily attainable, and successful for the productivity and profitability of a business.

Flexibility is key in a workplace strategy, and supports employee comfort during the workday. Some days call for collaboration, while others call for independent working, where others need remote connectivity. Sheh attributes some of her success to the fact that clients are choosing to be there; they are not forced. Another winning example client Sheh sites:

International Pharma company needs safe space to conduct interviews for hiring locally, EnMasse provides a clean, safe office space for that to happen. This small team has a private office, private coffee pot, private meeting space and feels very safe and IN CONTROL of their environment. Client is empowered.

She goes on to say that hot-desking offers more than a desk space because it offers safe interaction with other people. These interactions could be socially- distanced meetings, seamless audio and visual technology hookups for teleconferencing and so much more. And while comfortable at times, working from home saves short-term on money, but seems to decrease productivity. Since so many organizations have closed their doors out of fear of re-opening, employees are looking for safe work environments to continue on with their productivity. Prior to COVID-19, Sheh said that EnMasses’ statistics showed that out of the facility’s options, employees were using private offices 60% of the time and 40% were using hoteling. However, since COVID-19, 80% of people are utilizing hoteling services and only 20% are using private offices.

If a facility manager wants to transform their workplace strategy to include hotel scheduling or hot desking and create a COVID-safe environment, they should reach out to an experienced design team to facilitate the transition. With designers and facility managers working together, workplaces can provide hoteling options, similar to coworking spaces, to improve productivity, accessibility, and safety for employees. It all comes down to successful workplace strategy, like that of EnMasse  Facility managers should feel confident that with hoteling, the workplace can continue to adapt during the coronavirus pandemic while having employees thriving in a safe environment.

Fluker, D. F. (2020, April 11). New Survey Returning to the Office. Glassdoor. https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/new-survey-return-to-the-office/ 

Alberto Di Risio, A. D. R. (2020, July 3). Global Coworking Growth Study 2020. CoWorking Resources. https://www.coworkingresources.org/blog/key-figures-coworking-growth