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  • jerry woods

The new workplace includes office hoteling and major redesigns by developers

As companies return to the office, many are contemplating an office hoteling setup where employees would no longer have defined workstations. With many employers embracing a hybrid model that will have fewer people in the office than before, developers, commercial real estate owners and builders are changing what they build. Experts say it's easy to understand why hoteling is garnering more interest – particularly among businesses looking to shed real estate costs. The future of development will mean smaller office spaces, commercial spaces that incorporate open air space, or even fully redesigned office concepts.

With many employers hoping to lure reticent workers back after more than a year of working remotely, experts say they should tread carefully with hoteling, as it can be a touchy subject with many employees. Some workers aren’t comfortable sharing desks with others. Others don’t like the uncertainty of not having a desk of their own. Some treasure the unique touches of their personal spaces.

For those reasons, experts say there are several things developers should consider before building smaller offices and implementing an office hoteling policy.

1. What’s the why?

Many companies have looked to office hoteling as a means to cut square footage and save on rent, but just removing a bunch of six-by-six workstations probably isn’t going to move the needle that much or save a ton of square footage at the end of the day. Companies should instead be thinking of ways to maximize the effectiveness of their space, particularly since many also are trying to encourage employees to return to the office.

One way to do that is to find the amenities or features that a necessary to help improve the quality of the office experience; things such as in-office daycare, open gaming rooms, or even more green space.

2. Get feedback

Experts say companies shouldn’t pursue a hoteling strategy in a vacuum or force it upon their staff without gauging their opinions. Surveys and one-on-one conversations will provide not only worker sentiments on the idea but may also reveal some opportunities or challenges with a hoteling strategy or changing office structures.

For many office workers, the new workspace may look like employees only coming in a few times a week — which makes the idea of hoteling seem like a smart prescription. But there may be some problems. Some problems with the change include what would happen if an employee gets in early and get the best desk by the window, which can start to create animosity.

Developer/Builder solutions may include designing more open-concept offices with greater window access for everyone or making fully open offices where everyone has a view. It’s really important to think about space in the context of what you’re actually trying to achieve, if it doesn’t connect with employees, it’s not going to work.

3. Find your Right size

Building right-sized offices are the goal; don’t waste space. By building right, companies will save money, wasted productivity, and taxes. There’s not a magic ratio for companies looking to determine how many workstations they would need per employee. Experts say those totals will vary not just by company, but from department to department within a company. The secret sauce in right-sizing office space is being able to help leadership teams really assess what is going on in their organization and help them know what their teams need.

To find the best number of workstations and the right number of employees for their needs, companies need to determine the maximum number of employees who would need workstations on any given day, determine what departments need to be closer to each other to collaborate and how arranging the build can help cut down on wasted energy and time.

4. Don’t forget the tech needs

An effective hoteling strategy and office layout aren’t just about desks and physical space. Technology is a huge part of the equation. Companies need to ensure they have the proper tech setups to make hoteling and efficient office operation a reality. Considerations include phones, computers, and network access and how each of those will seamlessly move between workstations.

It could mean having a BYOD – bring-your-own-device – setup or having dedicated computers where any employee could log in with their credentials. Similar to office hoteling in general, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to technology needs for offices without assigned workstations.

With Zoom calls expected to be ubiquitous in hybrid workplace models, experts say companies need to take that into account, as well. Many are building Zoom rooms, phone booths, and other dedicated spaces for hybrid collaboration into their floorplans when embracing hoteling.

Whether it's hoteling, flex- time or total redesigns of the office concept, developers and commercial real estate owners will have to monitor the changing trends of office work. BHI is up to the task of building any type of concept you can imagine. Contact our team of experts at

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