Desk booking is a key process in a hybrid workplace. As you continue to build a better hybrid office for your workforce, you’ll eventually have to decide how people will use desks. Will it be first-come-first-serve, a reservation system, assigned seats, or some combination of these?
Regardless, you’ll likely run into desk booking software as a key part of your hybrid office tech stack. Use this guide to understand what it is, what kinds of desk booking you should know, how to assess your needs, and what features to look for.
What is Desk Booking Software?
Desk booking software enables employees to reserve a workspace or desk for a specific time period via a web or mobile application. It’s sometimes referred to as hot desking software or desk reservation software.
Desk booking software provides a simple interface that shows employees which desks throughout your office are available to book during a particular time and allows them to book one remotely. On the backend, desk booking software helps office managers and people teams understand desk utilization so they can make better decisions about how to maximize the office space.
Desk booking software is a staple of any hybrid workplace. It enables employees to reserve a desk for an in-office day ahead of time—or even on the day of—so they can be sure they’ll be able to come in and be productive.
Types of Desk Booking
“Desk booking” is an umbrella term for different methods of booking desks. The reality is that you can mix and match several types of desk booking to suit the configuration of specific spaces within your office. Any desk booking software should be flexible enough to allow for at least some of the following types of desk bookings.
Hoteling is a flexible workspace arrangement where employees reserve desks or workstations in advance for a specific time period that’s usually longer than one day.
It’s an ideal arrangement for part-time or remote employees who may travel to the office for a block of days periodically. They can have a dedicated workspace without needing their own full-time desk.
Hot desking is a flexible seating strategy where, instead of assigned desks, employees choose where they want to sit on a first-come-first-serve basis. Some offices require employees to book their desks through a hot desk booking software, while others may have open desks where anyone can take an open one.
Neighborhoods or Zone-Based Booking
“Neighborhoods” or “zones” refer to the idea of allowing employees to book desks in specific areas based on their roles or teams. One of the risks of desk booking is that employees who book late may not be able to book a desk near the rest of the teams, reducing the effectiveness of their in-office hours.
By allowing employees to book only in their team’s neighborhood, you can get the benefits of desk hoteling/booking without the risks of lost productivity due to separated teams/employees.
Assigned seating refers to the typical pre-COVID office setup in which every employee has a permanent desk. If your hybrid workplace leans more heavily toward in-office work, this arrangement might still make sense.
Assigned seating ensures teams can always sit near each other, as those desks can’t be booked by visitors or remote employees. The predictability can lead to more productivity. The downside here is that it’s harder to maximize the efficiency of your space, as you can’t repurpose assigned desks as easily as hot desks.
How Desk Booking Software Benefits Hybrid Offices
Hybrid work schedules lack the predictability of full-time office arrangements. That’s why desk booking is essential for any high-functioning hybrid office. These are just a few of the benefits you get with desk booking software.
- Allows for greater flexibility by tracking which desks get booked and which don’t, allowing you to reorganize your spaces for something more desirable.
- Reduces costs by giving you an accurate picture of in-office attendance and desk usage, giving you the ability to right-size your spaces and even your office footprint.
- Makes in-office time more efficient by reducing the need for employees to walk around the office to find the ideal desk for that day.
- Ensures employees get the workspace they need allowing them to book multiple types of workspaces.
- Gives you in-depth analytics that show you which desks and spaces are helping employees be productive. Combine these analytics with BI tools to understand the financial impact of your hybrid office compared to remote or fully in-office.
Evaluating Your Desk Booking Needs
Whether you’re just starting to explore your options for desk booking software, or you’re looking to move to a new solution, it’s important to get a sense of what your company actually needs from a platform. Here are some things you should consider:
- Office utilization rates. High office utilization, especially when it’s due to most employees spending the majority of their time in the office, signals that your teams might be better off with permanent seating rather than a booking system.
- Space and floor plan. Look through your office and determine which spaces make sense for hot desks and which would better serve your employees as another type of workspace.
- Office capacity. How many hot desks you’ll need will depend on your office capacity. Before you invest in infrastructure (the desks themselves and the booking system), it’s important to understand what your total capacity is.
- Plan for rollout and training. If you’re kicking off a new desk booking initiative, be prepared to spend time doing training, fielding questions, and fine-tuning your initiative. Adoption will depend on ease of use and the responsiveness of your team.
What To Look For In Desk Booking Software
There are quite a few desk booking solutions on the market and most of them do more than just desk booking. Like any other software, you’ll need to dive into the features of each one so you can assess them against your needs. You can use these desk booking features as a starting point for your own research.
Key Desk Booking Features
Desk booking systems don’t stand alone. They should be able to integrate with the tools your team is already using via integrations. Calendars, productivity and collaboration apps, single-sign on—all of these should seamlessly integrate with your desk booking platform so your teams can securely and easily book desks via the tools they already know and use.
If you’re rolling out a new desk booking initiative, nothing will slow adoption more than software that’s clunky and hard to use. Be sure to vet your options carefully to see which ones are simple and intuitive and which ones will require more training and support. Most leading solutions will have a mobile app that users can download to reserve a desk right from their smartphone.
Maps and Wayfinding
Every office is unique, so you’ll need a solution that allow you to map out your desks and other work areas according to your floor plan. As your office layout changes, the virtual representation of it should also be able to change. This will help employees understand exactly where the desk they’re booking is.
These interactive office maps should also be present in the office in the form of wayfinding screens and kiosks. For employees who don’t come in often, it’s critical that they can use the signage in the office to quickly find their spot.
A modern desk booking tool will offer advanced features like:
- Pre-configured neighborhoods that allow teammates to sit near one another by preventing non-team members from booking in that neighborhood.
- Activity-based booking that helps users sort workspaces based on the tasks they want to do.
- Desk suggestions that take employees’ previous choices into account and suggests similar desks for next time.
Desk booking software should allow you to set permissions at the user or role level. For example, say you want individual contributors to be able to book desks, but not meeting rooms or conference rooms. You can set those permissions and ensure your employees can only reserve their designated spaces.
Desk finding features allow employees to easily search for available workstations in the office for their desired day and time. Generally, they enable users to search for desks based on factors such as location, amenities, and accessibility features.
Meeting Room Booking
Employees don’t only go into the office to sit at a desk. They also want to be able to reserve meeting spaces. Desk booking software, as part of a complete workplace experience platform, should include room scheduling and conference room reservations as well.
On the backend, desk booking software provides analytics that give you insights into how employees actually use your office space. Examples of workplace data include metrics like desk occupancy, booking patterns, and user preferences for different types of workstations. Understanding these will give you actionable insights into how you can tailor your in-office experience to your employees actual needs and wants.
Check out our in-depth article on desk booking software features to learn even more key features that will make your desk booking processes seamless.
Get Your Desk Booking Process Down Pat
Building a desk booking system that your employees actually want to use is easy when you partner with a leading solution like Robin. Our desk booking system is part of a wider suite of workplace experience tools, so you’ll be able to offer a simple, intuitive system for desk booking, room booking, and more.
Learn how you can get started today.