As many workplaces evolve to offer greater flexibility to their employees — on how, when, and where they’d like to work — flex-desking has become more popular in the modern workspace.
Often referred to as desk hoteling or hot desking, flex-desking is the practice of creating bookable, on-demand desks and workspaces as opposed to assigned seating. It’s designed to let employees sit where they want, when they want, and with who they want, so they can create their own schedules to maximize collaboration and productivity.
However, even when there’s a flex-desking solution in place, it can be difficult for leaders and teams to navigate and work with. There are often unexpected bottlenecks when using a flex-desking solution for teams that require extra finesse and problem-solving.
In this article, we’ll explore what these challenges are, why they occur, and what can be done to solve them.
Why Is Flex-Desking for Teams a Challenge?
On the surface, flex-desking solutions seem relatively easy to use. However, when it comes to teams, the logistics of flex-desking can get complicated.
Consider this - let’s follow Linda, a VP of Marketing, who’s been charged with organizing a team meet-up in the office. She wants her whole team to work together on an upcoming Thursday afternoon, from 2 PM to 3 PM. Naturally, she sends out an email to her team on Monday, reminding everyone to book their desks with the following information attached - the zone (A) the time (2-3 PM), and the date (Thursday).
By Wednesday morning, Linda checks in with her team to find out that only half of them have booked their desk, and some, for the wrong time slot or place. Painstakingly, she must message every team member, via Slack, text, or email, to make sure that everyone has a desk for their Thursday meet-up.
After chasing down her team all Wednesday, and their reservations, the Thursday meeting arrives. Unfortunately, there are still a few people missing, some of which have arrived on the wrong floor or location, and others because they reserved their desks during an incorrect date or time.
The major problem here is that the system in place couldn’t provide assistance with much-needed coordination when it comes to organizing flex-desking for teams. Even though people are back in the office, it’s difficult to synchronize meeting times, especially with a large team, when everyone is expected to book their own desk.
Luckily, modern technology can alleviate many of these concerns, providing additional support features and a desk booking system that works better for teams. In other words, it is possible to work in a flex-desk environment successfully, no matter the team size.
Two key features can help mitigate the challenges of flex-desking for teams - delegate guest booking and colleague desk visibility.
What is Delegate Desk Booking?
As the name implies, delegate desk booking enables specific individuals, such as team leads and executive assistants, to book desks, rooms, and workspaces on behalf of others. This eliminates the need to coordinate a group desk-booking and makes it much easier for larger teams to meet and work together in a flex-desking environment.
In Linda’s case, an admin can give her delegate desk booking privileges so she can book desks for her whole team, on their behalf. Much like a meeting invite, everyone on her team would be notified of the exact time, date, and location of their meeting, along with the desk they’ve been assigned during the meeting. This saves time and energy for both Linda and her team, as it becomes unnecessary to coordinate individual desk bookings during future meetups.
What is Colleague Desk Visibility?
With colleague desk visibility, individuals give their team members, and managers, consent to see where they’ve booked desks on-site. The system, built atop a location-aware workplace experience app, will show a detailed map of the property, and with a simple tap, they can see the booked desks of anyone on the team. This makes it simpler for colleagues to find one another, especially during unscheduled or unplanned visits.
In our original example, one of Linda’s team members ended up in Zone E, when she was supposed to be in Zone A. With colleague desk visibility, they would be able to see the location of Linda and her team members’ booked desks and get step-by-step navigation to where the meeting is taking place. This is especially useful for new hires and employees who are unfamiliar with a campus, allowing them to easily find their colleagues and work together. As a result, colleague desk visibility helps employees locate and work together whenever they’re on-site, boosting collaboration and encouraging people to return to the office.
Features like delegate desk booking and colleague desk visibility make collaboration easier, leading to more engaged employees. But there’s another added benefit of having a flex-desking solution that’s tailored for teams – workplace analytics that reveal what types of desks, rooms, and resources each team needs most and how to offer it to them.
Optimizing Spaces for Collaboration with Workplace Analytics
By monitoring occupancy and frequency of usage for desks, rooms and amenities by team, workplace experience leaders can better understand how different departments work best and adapt their office environment to meet their needs.
For example, let’s say Linda’s marketing team has been designated for Zone A. However, the data shows that the marketing team most frequently works together in Zone E, an open concept environment with whiteboards and a snack bar nearby. Thus, while Zone A offers multiple conference rooms, workplace analytics reveal that the marketing team much prefers Zone E. Using this insight, office administrators can either reshape Zone A to be more like Zone E or switch the marketing team to Zone E altogether. Overall, when there is greater visibility into how teams work at the office, more can be done to ensure that being on-site is conducive to collaboration within each team.
Flex-Desking for Teams - Making It All Work
Flex-desking is an excellent way to maximize usage of desks in a non-traditional hybrid environment. But it can present challenges to teams who want to sync up at a particular time, date or space, especially in larger groups. With delegate desk booking, managers or coworkers can book desks on behalf of their team, making this process smooth and easy. In addition, colleague desk booking allows team members to find one another when they’re on-site, further reducing barriers to collaboration at the office. Combined with workplace analytics, leaders can continually gather insights and optimize the office for each team, adapting their space to their requirements as they evolve and expand overtime.
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