Even before the global pandemic began, desk configuration was a hot topic. Pre-pandemic trends around hot desking, desk hoteling, and open office plans sought to bring flexibility into how and where people worked. With hybrid work booming, desk configuration has become even more important. The specifics of any desk configuration plan will depend upon what your organization does, how your people want to work, and the “configurability” of your office environment.
A core tenet of hybrid work models also translates to desk configuration options. One-size-fits-all solutions should never be applied to organizations or even to all the people within any organization. How you configure desks depends on who is working, what those people are doing, the space available, and how well the space flexes.
That’s why desk booking software exists – to enable organizations and people to have choice while supporting in-office connection and collaboration. These tools have the added benefit of giving business leaders data and visibility into where and when people are working in the office, making forecasting for resources easier.
This blog post will highlight the importance of having the right resources in place so your organization can consider (and implement) new ways to organize desks. The goal of any configuration is to better serve the multiple, sometimes-shifting purposes of your people. We’ll be offering you actionable takeaways for implementing flexible desk configurations, while describing why maintaining flexibility matters.
3 Building Blocks for Any Desk Configuration Solution
When you construct a house, you must begin with a firm foundation that supports everything else you build. Get the foundation wrong, and the house topples. It’s the same when it comes to architecting any desk configuration solution. If you want it to work, here are three foundational building blocks:
- Desk booking capability is an integral part of any desk configuration option, as well as any functioning, frictionless hybrid workplace experience. Start here.
- Configuration of your desks should be versatile, as should your approaches to desk booking policies. The right software makes enabling these use cases easy and flexible.
- Workplace experience platforms with the right tools for desk booking, room booking, and measuring employee experiences are essential to managing the modern office.
Now that we’ve described the foundation, let’s explore some desk configuration options you might consider.
Desk Booking Configuration #1: Hot Desking
In a typical pre-pandemic office, each employee was assigned a specific desk. Hot desking upends that “fixed desk” model and instead views each desk as a flexible, available workspace that any person can book on any given day.
Hot desking means that people can work in different locations throughout the office, which improves collaboration by circulating valuable knowledge and skills throughout the office. A finance person, for instance, can sit next to a marketing person.
From an organizational cost perspective, hot desking allows you to reduce your CRE square footage, significantly decreasing your overhead costs. Getting hot desking “right” isn’t just about enabling people to book a desk, but also requires that people have visibility into where colleagues are sitting.
If I need to chat with an accounts payable manager, but don’t know where that person is sitting, I could waste my entire day roaming the office. Desk booking software from Robin allows people to not only book their desks but also locate colleagues.
Desk Booking Configuration #2: Desk Hoteling
Desk hoteling is when employees book a desk or office space (“office hoteling’) for more than one day at a time. That desk or office space is booked for an extended period of time, maybe by an individual or by a team that needs to collaborate on a project
Desk or office hoteling can be especially relevant for driving the productivity of projects involving multiple functions/departments. Specific employees from different departments can collaborate in a conference room or shared space for an extended period of time. This ensures members of a cross-functional team can always find the perfect meeting space for the duration of a project.
Desk Booking Configuration #3: Combination
Your organization can, of course, offer a combination of hot desking for some spaces and desk hoteling for other spaces.
In either scenario, you’ll need booking software that enables people and teams to choose, and also provides visibility into where co-workers are sitting. Any booking tool should also give business leaders office utilization data they can leverage to drive ongoing and iterative decision-making around office configurations.
4 Best Practices for Office Configuration
1. Ensure that your people are on board. Change is always challenging, so before adopting any new configuration, you’ll want to create a thorough change management plan to support the transition. Start by explaining the benefits, how the new configuration will provide more flexibility, freedom, and a better employee experience so people can be more productive. Find and deputize employees who can become “change champions” and spread the word to others.
2. Provide enabling technology. You can’t “do” a desk configuration plan without first enabling your people to book space in advance. Make sure your people have great space booking software that’s easy to use and supports ongoing flexibility and visibility. Bonus points for providing workplace teams with the data they need to plan.
3. Provide a mixture of spaces for diverse needs. Focus on creating a mixture of spaces to accommodate the multiple needs of individuals and teams. You’ll want collaborative spaces available for team brainstorming sessions or cross-functional project work, for example. Take that a step further and consider rooms where employees might relax with a cup of coffee or make a private phone call.
4. Reinforce “good office etiquette.” For example, you should define and communicate clear rules about cleaning and decluttering hot desks. Your people should remove all personal items once they leave a space, whether they hot desk or hotel, and avoid leaving confidential documents on desks when they leave.
For more information on office configurations and other flexible solutions to support hybrid work, read our new report: Redefining the Workplace to Enhance Productivity.