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Using Desk Hoteling to Build a Flexible Workspace

Remote work has been so successful that most organizations plan to permanently support hybrid workstyles that allow employees to split time between home and the office. That’s easier said than done, however.

Businesses can’t afford to keep paying rent on office spaces that are empty or unused most of the time. Office space in most U.S. markets costs more than $1,000 per desk each month, which includes rent, utilities, furnishings and maintenance.

Flexible work arrangements will require flexible office space. That’s why more organizations are evaluating workspace design concepts such as desk hoteling to accommodate hybrid work. According to a new survey from Edelman Data & Intelligence (DxI), 66 percent of business leaders are looking to redesign physical spaces to reduce their real estate footprint or better utilize the space they have.

Desk hoteling is an alternative to the traditional practice of having permanently assigned seating for all employees. Instead, employees reserve a desk or workspace for a specific time when they plan to be in the office. Upon arrival, they check in with a central booking agent or through a scheduling application.

A Solid Track Record

Hoteling is not a particularly new concept, with several companies implementing the practice in the 1990s. IBM and AT&T were among the more notable early adopters. IBM reportedly was able to reduce its real estate requirements by approximately 78 million square feet, saving more than $100 million annually. AT&T reportedly saved $550 million by eliminating and consolidating offices.

In addition to cost savings, hoteling and flexible work arrangements can give companies an edge in attracting and retaining top talent. According to one study, nearly a third of U.S. workers have sought new jobs because their current workplace didn’t offer flexible work opportunities.

Organizations can also use hoteling to support COVID-19 safety measures by reducing the density and capacity of existing office workspaces. The central reservation system helps administrators monitor whether facilities have been effectively cleaned after each use.

Hoteling does have some disadvantages. Shared phones can be particularly inconvenient, leaving users without personalized voicemail, profiles and other features. Customers, colleagues and partners may not answer your calls if they don’t recognize the number. You could use your mobile phone, but many people don’t necessarily want work contacts to have their personal number.

How Webex Helps

Cisco’s cloud-based Webex Calling phone system eliminates that issue by allowing administrators to personalize host phones for individual users. The Webex hoteling feature enables a user’s phone profile, personal extension, saved settings, voicemail and other features to be temporarily loaded onto a shared phone. The feature is also useful in call center environments, allowing agents to maintain their personalized profile despite sharing phones with multiple users over several shifts.

Webex hoteling has two components — hoteling host and hoteling guest. Administrators designate specific phones (hosts) that users (guests) can temporarily log into and use as their own phone. When a guest logs in to a host phone, their user profile is automatically transferred to the device. The host device then becomes the user’s primary device while they are logged into it.

Administrators can provision host phones through the Webex Control Hub, a single-pane-of-glass management portal. The portal also allows administrators to track a variety of usage and quality metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of the hoteling experience.

Flexible workstyles are here to stay. According to the Edelman DxI study, 73 percent of workers want to be able to work from home at least part of the time after the pandemic. As a result, most organizations are exploring solutions such as hoteling to make the best use of desks, equipment and office space. Call us to learn more about implementing Webex to facilitate a hybrid workspace.

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