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Hoteling Safely Can Help Offices Reopen and Stay Open

Jun 22, 2020 by Marc Rapport

Hoteling -- the idea of providing pre-booked short-term space to office workers -- has been around for a while, but it has taken on new importance in the wake of COVID-19.

Property managers and investors who want to encourage tenants to move in and/or stick around may want to explore how to encourage these methods of adaptable and flexible use of space as companies gradually reoccupy their space with safety top of mind.

Candace Rimes, associate director with Fogarty Finger Architecture, says her New York City design firm is helping its clients -- primarily tech and creative firms -- adapt by designing safely controlled, flexible hoteling areas with proper signage, cleaning strategies, and capacity caps.

Specific steps, Rimes says, include:

  • Creating enclosed/private room collaborative areas for individual hoteling station work as needed.
  • Equipping rooms with easily accessible power and the ability to control the level of privacy at each station.
  • Communicating guidelines for cleaning and disinfection after and before use.
  • Providing hoteling stations that offer disposable paper desk pads and sanitizing equipment.
  • Extended-height, wipeable privacy screens to protect workstations.
  • Setting up a cleaning system so desks are regularly sanitized and having the equipment available for self-cleaning prior to use.

How to successfully do desk hoteling

Teem, another player in the office space, specializes in desk and room scheduling technologies and recently posted an interesting blog about a subset of hoteling: desk hoteling. Reserving and parceling out desk time would seem to be a natural way to accommodate a couple of imperatives in this new normal emerging -- the need to socially distance yet maintain connection by having staff come in at different times while staying engaged digitally when they're not.

Titled "How to Successfully Switch to Desk Hoteling," the piece offers some suggestions to help make it work: an online desk reservation system, cloud document storage, and other up-to-date technology as well as mobile filing cabinets and keeping the desks looking nice.

A future of quick adjustments and fluid workspaces

That blog post was written in 2018. While the pandemic will eventually pass, the lessons for office use and demand will remain, and Rimes, the Fogarty Finger director, has an observation that applies to any manager or investor responsible for creating a space that tenants will want to lease both now and in the future.

"The pandemic will push us as designers and our clients to expand our thinking as the idea of a physical workspace will become more fluid," Rimes says. "We will need to design spaces that can adjust quickly and be more easily connected to satellite offices and employees working from home."

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