How to select the best policy-driven hot desk booking software for your organization.

Find the Best Desk Booking Software for you.

The pandemic has fueled pressure to implement socially-distanced office workspace environments, reducing the density and capacity of existing real-estate and requiring organizations to better utilize the space they have.  In many cases, employees will no longer have permanent desks, they will book a hot desk for when in the office.
 
In tandem, employees have become accustomed to working from home and see many benefits from continuing to do so.
 
Hot desking, hoteling, space management, resource utilization, bookable workspaces  - what is important to you?

As you research this area, you will find there are conflicting definitions on what is what.  Hopefully, these will help:
 
Office Desk Booking system definitions:
"Desk Booking" or "Workspace Booking" allows you to deploy flexible and activity-based workspaces throughout your organization, enabling users to reserve a workspace as and when they need it, to suit their work-life needs.
 
"Hot desking" is an alternate definition as a space-sharing practice that enables employees to choose an available desk or office space when they arrive at work.
 
"Coworking" is the use of an office or other working environment by people who work for different employers or who are self-employed, typically to share resources, desks, rooms, equipment, ideas, and knowledge.
 
Benefits of a Desk Booking System

Typical benefits you should be looking for by implementing Desk Scheduling Software include:

  • Encourages flexible working for employees as part of a broader Workplace Management Strategy

  • Better use of existing office space to  avoid wasted real estate

  • Reduces real estate costs through better desk utilization

  • Reduces  employee clutter in the workplace

  • Collects Workplace Analytics to see usage trends and bottlenecks over time

 
Before you start - define your Desk Scheduling policy
Before you start to research potential Desk Reservation Software vendors, sit back and define what behaviors you are expecting from your employees and what you will require from a technology solution. The following pages will help you to sharpen your policy.
 
From where are you starting in the process of selecting a policy-driven Desk Booking solution?

You may be starting from scratch or have already implemented a desk booking technology and this may be adequate - but are you getting the most out of it?  Like when buying a car, don’t be pressured into features you don't need, but make sure you get the ones that are important to you. 
 
Tactical short term or strategic long-term change to Working Practices
A tactical viewpoint is where hot desking is only seen as a temporary solution, driven by the current restrictions of Covid, and can be eliminated once the threat of the pandemic has subsided to a point where employees can all come back to the office full time.  This approach requires a minimum investment in time and budget to get basic technology that will “get you by”.  
 
Indeed, acceptable basic capabilities are available from the major enterprise calendar vendors (Microsoft and Google typically) and the pricing is compelling (usually free!) but will be limited in functionality and robustness. 
 
But also consider, is the genie out of the bottle now?  Will your workers want to come back to work full time now you have created a culture for working at home for much of their working time?
 
Why a Strategic, policy-driven Desk Booking Solution?
A more strategic viewpoint is where your organization has determined that hybrid working practices are the way forward for the well-being of your employees and the success of your organization, so it makes sense to allocate more time and funding towards a more robust, longer-term technology solution.
 
Select the Best Desk Booking System for you.
 
Are Apps and Maps enough?
Do a Google search for “ hot desk technology” - you will find many, many options of varying maturity, robustness and cost.  The simplest “Apps and Maps” solutions will get you started quickly but only take you so far. Although there is no right or wrong supplier, investing time in getting educated before making a purchase commitment will help you find the most effective solution.
 
ReSoft International, as a result of experience from many implementations, has put together this playbook to assist you in identifying the buying criteria important to you so you can confidently select a technology solution that fits your requirements. We have services to assist you.
 
Part A. The Basics of Desk Booking
 
Identify what is available out the box from your existing calendaring vendor 
Desk booking is all about calendaring, so it makes sense to integrate into your existing calendaring system so it is an extension of your employee’s working practices  - in most cases, this will be Microsoft Exchange (either Office365 or on-premise) or Google's G-Suite, although there are many more sophisticated enterprise workplace solutions that you may already have in place.
 
Outlook Integration for Desk Booking
Most of an employee’s collaborative time at their workstation will be using Outlook as their primary calendar. So it is natural to make the desk booking capability an extension of the Outlook calendar
 
Adding floor plan maps to the desk booking process
To make floor booking more intuitive for the employee, it can be beneficial to offer a view of the bookable desks from a floorplan so the employee can see the location of the available resources.
 
Mobile integration - Desk Booking for in-transit employees
When a user is away from their home office, most likely they will be using their mobile device to interact, most likely across a non-secured cellular or wifi network. So consider the capability for resource booking for those users in transit
 
Is it just desk booking or other bookable resources?
What is the scope of resources your employees need to book - you may just be looking at booking hot desks, but as you think through the booking process, you may find other types of resource could benefit from a centralized resource booking technology, for instance:

  • parking spaces,

  • EV charging stations,

  • employee storage lockers to store items securely while they are in the office

  • items issued to employees once in the office - perhaps corporate laptops

  • chairs and tables

 
Setting geographical booking boundaries

You may want to restrict employee desk bookings into particular locations - zones or neighborhoods -  based upon their role, department or current project.

Do you need a desk booking gatekeeper?
Technology will streamline the booking process, allowing your employees to auto-book a resource at any time.  But there may be certain spaces over which you need more control.  In this case, add a gatekeeper against that space - this role can accept or deny an employee's booking request so you can reserve your important spaces for the right people.
 
What filtering choices do you offer for Desk Reservation software?
Booking hot desks can get very political - and everyone has their favorite place to work;

  • by the window

  • with two monitors

  • using a standing desk


Make sure your solution enables your employees to apply meta-data filters to bookable resources to allow them to book the type of workspace they prefer.
 
Why the Desk Booking Super-admin is super-important
What happens when the senior VP is coming into the office unexpectedly and requires their favorite desk and employee Joe has already booked it? A super-admin feature allows a select group of people to move employee booking locations around, as necessary, to optimize the space and meet the political needs.
 
Desk Booking rules to consider
Would your employees take advantage of your desk booking technology? - booking their favorite desk space by the window every Thursday and Friday for months in advance, even if they are not in the office all of those days? Other users might just walk into the office and sneak into their favorite space right then.  In these cases, make sure your technology can restrict booking rules to match your remote working and safety policies, for instance;

  • must book at least 24 hours in advance

  • can only book up to three weeks out

  • can only book up to 6 dates in the future

 
Is your business multi-lingual?  Then your Desk Booking app should be too.
When implementing Desk Booking across countries, local language support is critical in getting employee acceptance to the desk reservation app.
 
How do you handle process breakdowns when the user reaches the Reserved Desk? 
What happens if a desk space has not gone through its pre-booking sanitization?  Or a piece of installed equipment, perhaps a monitor or desk phone, is not working?  The employee needs an intuitive way to alert service personnel that the space they have booked has not been cleaned, or the phone in that space is inoperative.
 
Simplify Desk Reservations in large open plan spaces by using Desk Pooling
Where you have a large number of resources in a single area and don’t need to manage the desks individually, consider Pooled Desk Booking.  Here, we define a group of bookable desks and the booker chooses to book a desk in that broad area.  When the employee arrives, they then select a desk from the Pool.
 
The same technology can be applied to other resources like parking spaces and lockers where you need to manage overall capacity but not individual resources.
 
Note that this will restrict your ability to give employees Desk Booking filtering choices.