For the mobile or telecommuting workforce that doesn’t have a permanent office or cubicle at their company’s location, coming to the office can feel like the annual visit to your cousin’s house party. It’s family and everyone knows you, but don’t get too comfortable and remember to take your things when you leave.
Visiting employees have to tend with searching for a spare desk, a free conference room or hopefully using the office of someone out at a meeting. If there’s no desk, you’ll wind up setting your laptop in the lobby or pantry. So how do you handle those employees who come in, but you don’t have the spare cube or office?
Hoteling (aka hotelling) and hot desking is a recent trend described as a method of supporting unassigned seating in an office environment by setting aside an area where external employees have rotating shared desks. Hotelling is reservation-based unassigned seating, whereas, hot desking is reservation-less unassigned seating.
FURNITURE Getting your work done is not about having a dedicated desk, but having access to the right kind of office setup for getting the work done. Companies can provide many solutions to accommodate visiting employees so they’re not left holding a conference call in the pantry while the Keurig machine is squealing high-pressure coffee into your colleague’s mug. This could be a desk, a workspace in a resource area or a training facility. A popular choice is the call center style setup as shown in the pictures (below).
TECHNOLOGY Shared workspaces can have a thin client terminal and monitor for Terminal Server/Citrix environments, power for laptops, Ethernet and a phone. Have a good telephony solution. Employees should be able to log in to their phone extension whether in the office or out, and from whichever desk they sit at. A main enabler of hotdesking is the ‘follow me’ type of phone system. All you need to do with a ‘follow me’ system is to dial in to your network and all calls to your company phone number will be redirected automatically to your current physical location. To the caller it will always seem like you’re at your desk throughout the working day.
WIRELESS Wireless-based networks are key. An office equipped with wireless means a computer can work anywhere.
AVOIDING THE STORAGE PITFALLS
If the hoteling space is not used for a while, make sure the well-intentioned swing space does not become a storage collection area. Keep the space inviting and clear so visiting employees feel a part of the team rather than coming to an open area that is strewn with cartons and supplies.