Office scheduling playbook plan

Future of Work

Ad Hoc: How coordination is replacing reservation in the workplace

When’s the last time you scheduled a stroke of genius?

Planning ahead is overrated, but every day offices across the world still use systems that favor reservations over on-demand productivity.

The calendar is partially to blame. It’s an imperfect messenger, and not to blame for being the easiest way to store time data today. However, over the past 10-20 years we’ve morphed them into the source of truth for resource management, itineraries, and guest lists.

Calendars are designed for specifics. With certain tasks, planning ahead makes sense. Flying cross-country for a client meeting? It helps to know what time you should book your flights and which airplane to board. But calendars also give the illusion that we operate in a perfectly-run sequence of events. Exit stage right, and cut to your 10AM meeting.

The best moments of work are unplanned

In a reservation system, you have to plan ahead and be specific with your intentions. This means knowing the answer to timing, people, and technology far in advance. Most of us don’t operate so predictably.

What does an alternative look like? We can start by letting the calendar go back to what it’s good at. What time are you (a real person) free? Everything else can be stored in better ways that actually match to how people work. Do you really need that specific conference room? Or just one with a whiteboard and a TV?

Forcing rigid schedules into free form environments causes friction. Inevitably people forget to plan ahead, and then the people that did get frustrated and learn that even planning ahead doesn’t solve their problem. So schedule adoption drops as more of the team gets frustrated and stops bothering to do it correctly. This is why scheduling systems break when everyone starts to ignore it.

On the other side, architects now trend towards space programming that prioritizes mobility like desk hoteling. The concept of “your space” isn’t a given, especially in open floor plans where migrating is easy. If everything else in the office is more flexible, why plan so rigidly?

A better system with room to grow

We believe workplace coordination is the best approach.

A reservation means planning ahead. You can break it, but it’s rude to show up late… or not at all. Coordination is fluid. It empowers you to act at the minute you need to, without causing extra burden to the people who had firmer plans. Adding a room display that shows a space’s calendar at the door helps bridge a gap. It provides opportunity for an ad hoc meeting and connects to your office calendars. Not every action is premeditated, especially in creative environments where inspiration can strike at any minute. When it does, check your office schedule on mobile and book a room while you’re on the move.

Which type of coordination powers your company’s best moments?