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How to Implement a Desk Booking System

desk booking, happy employee, desk booking system
The Robin Team
Published on

Hybrid work is here to stay. Data from Gallup shows that, today, 52% of remote-capable employees work in a hybrid work environment. 

Just as employees and company leaders have adapted to flexible work arrangements, the offices in which they work have also undergone a shift in what’s expected of them. The days of fully assigned seats and static spaces are over. Workspaces have to be flexible, conducive to multiple types of work, and provide clear productivity and wellness benefits for people to want to use them.

With less predictability in the comings and goings of employees, many hybrid companies have adopted desk booking software to make it easier for everyone to track attendance, ensure workspace availability in light of ever-changing schedules, and evolving expectations for workspaces.

To help you navigate the world of desk booking, we’ll look at different types of desk booking software for hybrid, how to evaluate desk booking solutions, and how to handle the technical and logistical side of implementing a desk booking solution or software.

Finding the right desk helps employees better collaborate.

Types of Desk Booking

In this section, we’ll dive into the most common desk booking configurations. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to choose just one type for your employees. Different teams and spaces will lend themselves to certain kinds of configurations. You can mix and match any and all of these as part of your overall desk booking system.

Desk Hoteling

Hoteling is a flexible workspace arrangement where employees reserve desks or workstations in advance for a specific time period. This is often done via a desk booking system

Hoteling is ideal for remote or part-time employees. It allows them to have a dedicated workspace when they're in the office while enabling others to book the same desks on other days. 

Hoteling optimizes office space usage and reduces overhead cost by allowing you to right-size the number of desks you keep based on actual usage and need, rather than having a one-desk-per-employee setup. It also makes your office setup more adaptable. As desk usage increases or decreases, desks can be repurposed to facilitate different kinds of workspaces. 

Hot Desking

Hot desking is a workspace management concept where employees choose from available desks each day, without needing to reserve a specific workstation. Desks are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. 

This model encourages a dynamic office environment and promotes collaboration among team members. Like desk hoteling, hot desking can also help businesses save on office space, as it accommodates fluctuating numbers of employees and makes efficient use of resources.

Assigned Seating

Assigned seating refers to a traditional office setup where each employee has a permanent desk or workspace just for them. This arrangement offers a sense of stability and personalization, as individuals can customize their work area according to their needs and preferences. 

Assigned seating enables you to ensure teams can always sit together, as other people can’t book already-assigned desks. Familiarity, in this case, can increase productivity and predictable workdays. However, this setup may be less efficient in terms of space management and space utilization, as it does not accommodate for variances in in-office attendance or changing workplace needs.

The right desk booking software helps teams easily locate the right desk.

Key Features of Desk Booking Software

As you consider which desk booking software your team will implement, look for these desk booking features to ensure your hot desk booking software rollout will be a success.

Desk Finder

A desk finder is a feature that enables employees to easily search for and locate available workstations in the office on any given day and time.
Any desk finding functionality should make it easy for users to search based on their preferences, such as location, amenities, and accessibility features.

Role-Based Permissions

Your desk booking software should make it possible to set different permissions for different users. For example, if you want individual contributors (or anyone not a manager) to be limited to individual workspace booking, but not conference or meeting room booking, you should be able to set that up easily.

Workplace Analytics

Any desk booking software should provide analytics that give you insights into how your employees are making use of the office space. Collecting workplace data on metrics like desk occupancy, booking patterns, and user preferences for specific types of workstations will give you actionable insights into how you can optimize your own space usage. For example, if you find that a group of desks meant for independent work aren’t being used, you can swap that space into one aligned to more collaborative group work. 

Accurate office maps make it easier to find your way around the office.


Wayfinding features in desk booking software help employees navigate the office and locate their reserved workspace or meeting rooms with ease. This can include interactive maps, visual aids, and step-by-step directions that give employees the ability to find their way around the office and reducing the time spent searching for available workstations.

Smart Booking

More advanced hot desking functionality will enable you to pre-configure “neighborhoods” so teammates can work near each other to collaborate without worrying about someone else booking a desk they’ll need to sit with their teams. 

Neighborhoods can be activity-based work environments that allow people to do similar types of work in the same space.

Another key smart booking feature involves suggesting desks to employees based on their previous choices. 

Mobile Booking

A modern desk booking system will offer mobile desk booking capabilities that allow all users to check desk availability, book a desk, and check in all from their mobile devices. It should enable users to share schedules, book meeting or conference rooms (if their permissions allow it), and even alert their teams if changes happen. 

Meet teams where they are by providing them with booking options on a mobile app.

How to Implement a Desk Booking System

You know what to look for in your desk booking software. You’ve selected a solution. What’s next?

Deploying the technology, building systems around it, and driving adoption. Here’s how to get it done.

Get Buy-In from Employees and Executives

If your company hasn’t used a desk booking software before, you’ll need to factor change management into your strategy. Forcing teams to use a desk booking system without understanding their needs will lead to push back. If executives don’t have a clear understanding of why you’re implementing it, you’ll struggle to get the resources you need. Here are some things you can do to get buy-in:

  • Show executives and team leads how desk booking creates flexibility, freedom, and an overall improved employee experience. 
  • Explain how desk booking across different types of workspaces makes people more productive when they come into the office by ensuring they have the space they need to do their best work. 
  • Find employees—regardless of their seniority or title—who can champion the new system and become “change champions” on their teams.

Ask Questions to Orient Your Strategy

Before you go all-in on implementing a desk booking software, there are some key questions you should ask yourself to set your initiative up for success.

  • Can staff book desks easily, both on the day of and in advance? Can they do it via a mobile app?
  • Does the size of our office create a need for clear signage and wayfinding to help employees find their workstation?
  • How many desks do we really need? (Hint: Use space utilization data to get your answer if it’s available.)
  • Can colleagues on the same team or on teams that need to collaborate closely share a “neighborhood”?
  • Do some employees need permanent desks? 
  • Will certain departments or teams need particular kinds of workstations? For example, do engineers or developers need closed off desks for heads-down work? 
  • Do we have the desk booking software we need to implement this initiative smoothly?

Configure Your Desk Booking System

Whatever desk booking tool or software you use, it’s critical to configure it to your exact specifications and needs. Here’s a quick checklist of critical steps you should take before you open things up for your team.

  • Upload your floor plans and desks. Verify that all bookable desks are available for users, and that all permanently assigned desks are blocked off. 
  • Create the appropriate permissions. For example, if you don’t want individual contributors to be able to book offices or meeting rooms, be sure to specify that. 
  • Get your integrations set up. If your system can integrate with tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, or any other tools, be sure those are working so your employees can book desks in the tools they already use.

Clearly Communicate Plans and Expectations

We’ve seen thousands of companies deploy a desk booking system, and the ones that have a successful rollout all have one thing in common: They have clear “whys” around their initiatives and can explain it to everyone from the CEO to the interns.

They share the benefits of using the system. They prioritize training so everyone can get up to speed on the desk booking process. They phase in the rollout and gather feedback as they go to fine tune their approach. They’re responsive to questions. 

The logistical and technical aspects of the rollout are important, but without a strong communication plan, your desk booking software will likely succumb to underuse or even annoyance. 

Give teams the resources they need to better connect.

Lead by Example

Alongside a strong communication plan, it’s critical that company leadership leads from the front when it comes to booking desks. If people can see executives and team leads using the system and sharing the benefits, they’re much more likely to adopt the technology. 

That’s why getting buy-in at the beginning is critical. No company-wide initiative can survive without executive sponsorship, and desk booking is no exception.

Collect Feedback on the Desk Booking Process and Iterate

Your desk booking software will provide useful workplace analytics that will help you get a sense of adoption and usage trends. Analytics are key, but it’s crucial to get out of the dashboards and spreadsheets and talk to people as well.

Use surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups to gather feedback on the progress of your rollout. Try to get a wide cross-section of people—from individual contributors to execs—and encourage them to give honest feedback about the system. Everything from ease of use to productivity outcomes is fair game and will give you a more complete picture of your progress.

Check out our guide, “Measuring the success of your flexible workplace strategy,” to learn more about how you can track progress toward hybrid work goals.

Successfully Implement a Desk Booking System

Implementing a desk booking system can boost productivity, improve the employee experience, and help you foster a successful return to office. Finding the right blend of easy-to-deploy tech and building a strong communication and change management plan will set you up for success as you navigate the new world of hybrid work.

Learn how Robin can give you the tools you need to start improving your workplace today. Start for free or book a demo today.

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