How to Get Your Employees Warmed Up to Desk Booking

Leslie Harding
August 31, 2021

The importance of desk booking in a hybrid company

The pandemic taught us a lot about the importance of flexibility in the workplace. We saw that some people really benefited from working from home, finding they had more focus, fewer distractions, and a better lifestyle. Others found that they had trouble working from home, as they missed the camaraderie and environment of an in-person office. Many had both experiences: some days worked well at home, other days, not so much. In a recent survey, we found that 85% of respondents are looking forward to being in an office, but many still crave flexibility in their schedule. Those experiences have fueled the rise of hybrid work policies.

Hybrid work policies give employees the flexibility to work how they wish. Employees can come to work in person some days and work remotely on others. It’s the best of both worlds. Desk booking (also called desk hoteling), is a backbone of a hybrid workplace because it allows employees to reserve workspace when they need it. They can quickly and easily grab a desk and see where their colleagues are working on any given day.

Having a hybrid work policy can be a major benefit to employees because it allows them to have the flexibility they want. This can lead to increased happiness and loyalty, which is particularly important right now because of the competitive labor market many companies are experiencing.

Plus, desk booking has benefits for employers as well. It allows you to better utilize office space, so you may not need as many individual desks in the workplace. This frees up space for other valuable options, like collaborative work areas. You may even find that you don’t need as much space for your office.

Potential challenges associated with implementing desk booking

Change is hard, and any new system will take time for your team to get used to. A challenge that some HR and People teams face when rolling out a desk hoteling solution is employee resistance because of negative preconceptions. Often these negative impressions come from past experiences with hot desking, which is a system where desks are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Desk booking is fundamentally different because employees can book a desk in advance and it will be reserved for them, so they don’t have to stress about getting a spot. Though it’s worth noting that nowadays, many people use the terms hot desking and desk booking interchangeably, so it’s important to clarify the specifics of your program with your team.

The features of a modern desk booking solution

A modern desk booking solution offers a variety of tech-enabled features to meet the needs of your team and all the employees in your office.

With desk booking, your employees can:

  • Reserve desks in advance for one or more days
  • Make, view, or edit their reservations
  • Filter desks by amenities like double-monitors, standing desks, etc.

You can:

  • Create neighborhoods where teams can sit together
  • Assign permanent or flexible seating
  • Add integrations to tools you already use

It’s important to look for the features that are relevant and desirable to your team when shopping for the right desk booking tool.

How to successfully roll out a desk booking solution at your office

Every new program rollout comes with its own list of to-dos. When it comes to desk booking, many of those center on employee satisfaction. After all, this is a solution that is meant to enhance your employees’ enjoyment of their work environment. It is essential to plan ahead to create the best experience possible for employees, so they are satisfied and successful from day one.

Set up your desk booking software to meet your needs

The first place to start when planning your desk booking rollout is in the software itself. Modern desk booking tools typically have a lot of customizability, so you can ensure that everything is set up how you want it.

A few things to ask yourself as you set up your account:

  • Who will be the administrators on the account?
  • Which desks are bookable? Which are not?
  • Where are the collaborative spaces in the office?
  • What integrations will you be connecting?

Once you have figured out your preferences, make sure to update them in your desk booking software. Take note of your settings and share them with your admin group so everyone knows how the software works. Plus, knowing what settings you have chosen makes it easier to know the settings you’ll have the ability to change in the future, if desired.

Communicate with your team early and often

Open and timely communication is a key to success in all aspects of work, especially when it comes to implementing something new like desk hoteling. Once you know you are going to roll out a new solution, open the lines of communication with your employees. Make sure to tell them the benefits of desk booking, what exactly they will be getting out of it, and when the rollout is going to happen.

After the initial kickoff in communication, keep your ears (and door) open to any feedback or concerns. Make sure that everyone knows they can come to you if they have questions about the rollout. This is also the time to set up a training session so all employees can get familiar with the system and ask anything that is on their minds. After everybody has had a chance to get trained, you can begin to roll out your new desk booking solution. It is a smart idea to go slowly, allowing everyone to get familiar and comfortable with the new tool.

Optimize your space for desk booking

If you’re an HR, Workplace, IT or Office Manager, you know how much planning goes into creating a great physical workspace. There are a few things you can do to make sure your physical space is ready for desk booking. One thing you can do is make all desks equally inviting and desirable, so employees aren’t fighting over a select few desks. You may need to add amenities to some desks to achieve this. You should also plan out your collaborative space so people have dedicated places to work together and don’t feel worried about not sitting next to a certain colleague. Next, ensure that employees have space to store their personal belongings in a secure area. Finally, plan out six foot social distancing if needed for safety.

Lead by example

A great way to get buy-in from employees is to have managers and company leadership enthusiastically embrace your new desk hoteling system. Talk to leadership before you implement the system to make sure that they feel comfortable with how to use it and aren’t hesitant about booking a spot. When employees see leaders booking desks and utilizing the tool effectively, they will get the message that the tool is valuable and positive for the company.

Gather feedback and iterate

Like any project at work, you need to be ready to accept feedback, gather data, and continue to iterate on your solution. You can send out surveys and chat with your team in person to see what people are thinking. A modern desk booking solution can also give you utilization data so you can make informed decisions about your workplace. Are the desks near the A/C more popular? Time to improve airflow in the office. Is one desk pod never booked? Maybe that should become a collaborative spot. Anecdotal feedback married with hard data can lead to unique insights and improvements for your space.

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