Hotelling (office)

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This article is about the office environment. For other uses see Hotelling (disambiguation).

Hoteling (or hotelling) is a method of supporting unassigned seating in an office environment. It is similar to hot desking, and is sometimes confused with it, since both methods support unassigned seating. Hotelling is reservation-based unassigned seating, whereas, hot desking is reservation-less unassigned seating.


Offices generally support three kinds of seating assignment:

  • Shift/Workshop - People take a seat for a given time-shift. The seat is then released to another person on the next time-shift.
  • Assigned - One and only one person is assigned to one or more workstations. Likewise, the workstations are assigned to be used exclusively by one person.
  • Unassigned - A person is not assigned to any particular workstation. Likewise, the workstation is not assigned to any particular person.

"Recent studies of knowledge workers, particularly salespeople, customer representatives, and consultants, indicate they spend only 30% of their time in the office. Teleworking also contributes to less frequent presence in the office. So why have a workstation?"[1] Companies are also finding that people may need different kinds of workstations at different times for different tasks (e.g. an enclosed office one day and open space the next and a war room the next - all within the same office.) This means that nomadism is not only inter-office (travellers and teleworkers), but intra-office.

Many companies are beginning to rethink whether assigned seating makes the most sense. With the increasing price of commercial real-estate the modern corporation is always looking for ways to maximize office space of an ever growing business. Corporations attempt to divide up their resources in an efficient and effective manner. A new system that companies have begun using is called hotelling. Hotelling is a fairly recent idea which has begun to pop up in many large corporations with travelling employees. The idea stems from that of a hotel where employees must reserve their spot for a specified period of time.

How it works[edit]

Hotelling systems can vary from basic to high tech. The system generally works better when they are merged with the overall technology of the firm. Basically, the company uses a piece of software which keeps track of all of its resources. When employees arrive at work in the morning (or log in from home via the company intranet), they access the hotelling reservation software and log in using their unique user ID and password. They can then either reserve spaces by their name/number or, in some systems, by looking at a blueprint of the office and visually selecting a workspace. Once the reservation process is complete, a number of functions may be performed by the system including the routing of phone service to the workspace, the notification of an office "concierge" who prepares the workspace, etc. With many systems, workers are required to "check-in" through a terminal connected to the reservations database as they arrive at the office location.

Who uses it[edit]

Hotelling started and continues to predominantly appear in customer representative and consultant-based companies. This is because most of these companies' employees spend the majority of their time away from the office; thus, reducing the amount of office resources they need to occupy on a regular basis. This allows large firms to utilize the concept of hotelling. Although hotelling started in consulting companies this does not mean that it is limited to these companies.

See also[edit]