How Desk Hoteling Can Improve Employee Happiness

AJ Beltis
April 12, 2022
desk hoteling, employee happiness, hybrid workplace, desk booking

Working from home has afforded employees many benefits, including saved commuting time, reduced costs, and even not having a dress code. 

However, this doesn’t mean all employees want to permanently work remotely. 73% of workers miss in-person socializing with their peers, while 64% feel like working from home brings more distractions than an office environment. 

That’s why 63% of high-growth organizations are using a hybrid model, mixing in-person and remote work options. Employees also favor this work style, with 83% saying they prefer hybrid. 

One key element of a hybrid model is desk hoteling, where employees can reserve a desk on days that they want to come into the office. This method allows companies to make better use of their office space. And, from the employee perspective, it provides the opportunity for a better work day and a stronger work-life balance. 

Hybrid and hoteling go hand-in-hand—and companies that employ desk hoteling are taking a concrete step toward greater employee happiness. 

What is desk hoteling?

Desk hoteling (or hotel desking, depending on your mood) is a workplace seating system where some or all desks can be reserved by an employee in advance of a workday. 

As a result, employees won’t “own” a desk like they do in a traditional office. Instead, desks can be used by any employee on a first come, first served basis—usually by booking a desk through software ahead of time. 

Desk hoteling and the hybrid office

Desk hoteling is typically used in companies operating a hybrid work environment. With employees working some of their days outside of the office, desk hoteling gives your team the  flexibility to sit near their colleagues. This helps employees benefit from the collaboration and socialization that naturally comes from working in proximity to others. 

For example, employees can look to see where their closest colleagues are sitting and select a desk in that area to work from for the day. Or, they can choose a desk based on amenities—like choosing a standing desk, or a desk that has a second monitor. 

Hotel desking can be handled manually, but it is typically managed with desk booking software, where employees can choose the best desk for them based on their team members in the office, the amenities of the desk or area of the office, or the availability of desks on certain days. 

Related content: How Flexible Seating Arrangements Can Improve Your Hybrid Office

3 reasons why desk hoteling makes employees happier

1. More flexibility

The flexibility that comes with desk hoteling means employees can come and go as they please while still getting their work done.

Whether it’s relying on a dedicated desk every day or just having a spot to leave their bag for a morning of meetings in the office, hoteling helps turn the office into a tool for employees to use when they see fit. 

With hotel desking, there’s no fear of managers or co-workers eyeing an employee’s empty desk wondering where they are or if they’re being productive. In a hybrid world, work speaks for itself regardless of where it gets done. The pressure is off to show up to work for appearances, and employees will instead come in when they crave the in-person interactions, organization, and resources that a home office can’t provide as easily. 

The result? Employees will do more work from where they want to do it, leaving them happier and feeling more fulfilled. 

2. Opportunity for in-person interactions

When the world went into lockdown, we lost the ability to form natural social bonds with those outside of our close inner circles—most notably, coworkers. Our only facetime with them was in scheduled Zoom meetings, which quickly resulted in its own form of fatigue.

From spontaneous whiteboard sessions to impromptu after-work drinks, in-person interaction makes work and socialization more natural among co-workers. When surveyed in 2021, 85% of workers admitted they were looking forward to an office return—and more than half of respondents said that socializing with peers was a top reason why. 

It’s clear that—in at least some capacity—employees want to return to the office and add some social interactions to their day. Hotel desking simply makes this easier, allowing workers to plan with their colleagues on which days to come in. 

Or, they may even meet new acquaintances on days when their work friends aren’t able to come in. Having more colleagues at work also creates a larger network for hybrid employees, helping them feel more involved. Not only is this a huge boost for employee engagement—it also keeps a company’s employee retention rates high.

Related content: How Conference Room Scheduling Software Can Improve Collaboration on Your Team

3. Working from home isn’t for everyone

For some, working remotely means no office distractions and the ability to control the work environment. 

For others, it means sharing a kitchen table “desk” with your roommate in a 500-square-foot apartment, or constantly reminding your kids you can’t be bothered during working hours. 

Not exactly the ideal picture of productivity.

Offices provide a dedicated workplace for employees who simply don’t do their best work remotely. Plus, offices afford other resources like tech, equipment, and large desks that remote workers don’t always have access to. 

These reasons are often given for why employees are excited to get back in the office. According to a survey by Eden Workplace:

  • 44% of employees want an escape from home and better work-life separation. 
  • 44% want better resources like printers and steady wi-fi. 
  • 30% want office amenities that aren’t available at home. 

Hotel desking creates the best of both worlds. It allows remote employees to work where they operate best and welcomes office employees back to where they’re most productive. 

Productivity and happiness go hand-in-hand at the office—employees are 12% more productive when they’re happy on the job. Forcing employees to work in an environment where they feel socially or creatively constrained will only heighten dissatisfaction and turnover rate

Checking in 

Desk hoteling is an essential component of the hybrid workplace. It allows employees to utilize the resources the office provides and form connections with peers—all without forcing employees to work from a specific location. 

This approach gives employees autonomy on where they work, both inside and outside of the office, and allows them to work in a way that makes them the most productive, engaged, and happy.

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