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What Is Office Hoteling?

In some hybrid workplaces, employees will need to prebook their office space.

[Updated: Apr 26, 2021 ] Apr 26, 2021 by Barbara Zito
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As more offices start to reopen and welcome back employees, the term "office hoteling" has popped up quite often. For social distancing purposes, many companies are adopting a hybrid workplace strategy, where staffers split the week to spend some days working at home and others at the office.

Much like with booking a room or suite in a hotel, office hoteling allows an employee to reserve the workspace of their choice on any given day, be it a cubicle, workstation, private office, or conference room. When employees show up at the office, their reserved spaces are empty and waiting for them. The strategy will help to streamline company resources -- including pricey office space -- to benefit a company's bottom line.

Office hoteling vs. hot desking

"Hot desking" often comes up in the same conversation as office hoteling, but the two terms are not completely synonymous. With hot desking, employees show up to the office on their scheduled day and sign out a desk or workspace with office furniture on a first-come, first-served basis. They might be able to get their preferred spots if they show up early enough, but they might also be relegated to whatever unassigned seating is left depending on desk availability.

If hot desking sounds similar to showing up at a neighborhood cafe and hoping you get a table by an outlet to keep your laptop charged, you'd be right. This is what gives an edge to office hoteling in the desk-sharing space, because everyone knows exactly where and how they'll be working on the days they're on-site.

Office hoteling also levels the playing field for staff because the booking process is the same for everyone. Employees know the floor plan and can pick a desk space that offers the technology and other resources they need to be the most productive. The desk hoteling process might be managed by a receptionist or administrative assistant, or it might be done online, with employees accessing a desk booking app or office hoteling software platform on a mobile device.

The importance of a flexible workplace post-pandemic

Office hoteling will be a bigger trend in the modern workplace as companies seek more flexible workplace arrangements to save money and increase employee satisfaction and productivity.

According to PwC's 2021 Remote Work Survey, 83% of employers say that remote work has been successful for their company, up from 73% back in June 2020. However, only 13% of employers are willing to go fully remote, while 87% of employees say the office is good for collaboration and team building. That said, 55% of employees are still hoping to work from home at least three days a week even after they get the all clear to return to the office.

While the C-suite understands that remote work is desirable for its flexibility, 68% still believe company culture is important and hinges on employees being on site at least three days a week -- that is, provided there still is an office to go to. About 87% of employers are looking to change up their office space in some way during the next three years. Some are downsizing, but 56% are planning on leasing more space, including satellite offices in the suburbs.

How investors can make the most of office hoteling trend

Office investors should understand that safety is a big concern as employees return to work. With an office concierge system in place -- human or otherwise -- plus regular maintenance and cleaning of surfaces, you can offer a sanitary work environment that allows for safe social distancing. Companies that are rethinking their office real estate post-pandemic may jump at the chance to rent out smaller spaces to accommodate fewer on-site workers as they formulate a new plan for their staff moving forward.

There is another opportunity for investors to cash in -- the work-from-home crowd who doesn't always want to work from home, per se. A recent report by WeWork and Workplace Intelligence indicated that nearly two-thirds of employees would be willing to pay for co-working space, and nearly half would be willing to pay upwards of $300 if it meant preserving their job's flexibility in location. Co-working spaces might have been empty during the pandemic, but they will likely fill up more now, whether the tenants are companies looking to downsize their space or single employees looking for a remote work setup.

The bottom line

The workplace looks much different than it did prior to the pandemic. The demand for office space is shrinking as more companies adopt a hybrid workplace, where office hoteling could play a key role in keeping employees safely distanced and productive.

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