Dial a workspace

The protean and swift-pace of technology is changing traditional concepts of working with concepts like flexi workplaces, mobility while working, working from home and the latest concept of hoteling.


There are many cases where office space is not used to the optimum especially when employees are on the move either to customer locations or on official work. In this event, prime space is wasted; well, not only space but large amounts of money in terms of office maintenance. When Anderson Consulting (Canada and US) launched their Just-In-Time (JIT) office concept, it saved the office more than $1 million per year in expenses.


Ted Hammer, senior managing partner with HLW International, New York says, "What drives big companies to consider hoteling is flexibility, space-use efficiency, functionality and sensitivity to individual work schedules - also works for small companies.It's not a big or small thing; it's a productivity thing."


What is hoteling?


Consulting firm Ernst & Young (U.S.) decided a hoteling program was a logical solution to reduce high real estate costs. Using a hoteling. Ratio of one office for three or four consultants they reduced U.S. office space by 2 million square feet (25%) between 1992 and 1994. Annual occupancy costs went from $145 million in 1992 to $120 million in 1994 (U.S.). In addition, clients appreciated the on-site availability of Ernst & Young employees.

Source: www.ivc.ca/


Hoteling is an emerging facilities or premises management strategy. In


hoteling (sometimes known as hot-desking), as the name suggests, employees do not have a designated or fixed workspace, they check in and work from prior-booked workspaces. They are of course equipped with the appropriate technology to conduct business.


Hoteling creates a vital link between actual need and intelligent physical use of office space.


Hoteling is useful for employees who frequent clients on a regular basis; it is most effective for accountants, consultants, marketing professionals and sales-oriented organizations.


How it works


Instead of having the normal workspaces with cubicles and designated space for employees, hoteling locates a workspace for the employee, which he/she can reserve or cancel or in hoteling terms, check out.


The employee checks in through a computerized reservation system or reservation kiosk. The terminal usually shows the floor plans of the hoteling sites or where the employee can book his/her workspace; vacant workspaces are generally displayed by a green flashing light. Employees using this facility can also reserve boardrooms and check out dates and time of meetings. The reservation kiosk can also be accessed through the Internet, with the employee's ID. On site, the employee gains access with his/her swipe card.


Personal belongings are stored in movable cabinets; the handling of details like programming phones or placing nameplates on the reserved cubicle and etc are all handled by the concierge (from the admin department).


When the employee is done with the work, all they would have to do is check out through the computer reservation system.


Getting used to it


While the concept is avant-garde there are several things that have to be addressed. For example the loss of a cozy cubicle with the nameplate, personal belongings and personal touches have to be dealt it. These physical articles actually have a strong influence on the way one works, territorial humans that we are. In many cases, space also equals status and it will be a hard thing to actually let go. In hoteling an employee can be sharing his/her "seat" with a junior or a reportee, something, which senior people might not be very comfortable with.


Another notable drawback is the lack of regular meeting with teammates and colleagues and such things like brainstorming, which are in fact very useful and healthy for an organization. Opportunities for physical bonding, so necessary to the gregarious homosapien will also diminish.


The fast pace technology is thrusting us into the future, while opening up newer and more innovative ways of working making intelligent use of personnel as well as the technology. All we would have to do is gear up to face the challenges.


Companies benefiting from hoteling


About 29% of Fortune 500 companies have adopted some or the other type of innovative working styles, resulting in huge savings. Big firms, the likes of IBM, Siemens, Deloitte & Touche, P&G, Ernst & Young, Andersen Consulting and Merrill Lynch, have already embraced hoteling to make full use of technology and people resources. A report by the US Department of Labor on Telework suggests that Siemens' use of hoteling will produce savings of over $1 million in real estate costs over the next five years.


"Transforming traditional offices saved IBM $100 million in real estate costs", says Linda Leung in this report titled IBM makes the most of mobility. She says, "Today, there are 252 mobility and "touch down" centers in 170 countries serving the IBM mobile community. Mobility centers are offices to which mobile workers are assigned and are concentrated in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. By contrast, touch down centers, concentrated in Asia Pacific and Europe, are used on a drop-in basis. Both types have between 20 and 200 desks and are open to IBM employees or visitors."


P&G, the worldwide consumer-products company expects saving, through hoteling, to the tune of $300 million. Sun has been able to save more than $40 million so far as a result of its flexible office project, called iWork, which it started in 1995. Kim S Nash says, in this article titled Trading Places at P&G "Sun Microsystems even runs a hotel-style reservation system to manage requests from nomadic workers who want to set up temporary shop at one of 55 sites nationwide.. Sun revamped the space (their office in Chicago) to allow for hoteling. It put in generic, reservable rooms with rolling file cabinets, height-adjustable furniture, plug-and-go network wiring and other services. Now 400 people can work there."