What it means to “go to the office” has changed significantly in recent years. Office design may or may not include private offices, cubicles, or even workstations assigned to specific individuals. Two office design trends that are becoming increasingly popular are office hoteling and office benching. The esthetics of the each of these office design trends lend to wide-open visuals with the space appearing brighter and larger, instead of the dark and closed-off look of cubicle farms.
Read on to learn what they are and whether one may be beneficial for your office.
What is Office Hoteling?
Just as hotels have rooms that customers reserve and use on an as-needed basis, offices that have embraced office hotel seating or “hoteling” have unassigned workstations and office seating available for employees to book for a period of time. Often, companies that use this office design approach provide lockers where hoteling employees can store and retrieve files and personal office equipment.
What is Office Benching?
Office benching is another office design approach that maximizes efficiency and promotes collaboration by the strategic use of office seating. Office benching sometimes refers to using modular, flexible bench-style office seating that can be configured in various ways to promote collaboration. Office benching can also refer to long, shared tables with seating on each side. Instead of individual workstations, office benching creates team workstations that can be adapted to accommodate small or large groups.
What Type of Company is Office Hoteling Ideal For?
Office hoteling is ideal for businesses with employees who travel often. A hoteling arrangement means that companies can purchase fewer desks and chairs or alternative office seating. Because not all employees will be in the office on the same days or at the same times, hoteling means the same number of employees are accommodated with less office furniture. For example, an office headquarters could use hoteling to accommodate its regional sales reps when they’re in town. A pharmaceutical firm could use hoteling when its pharmaceutical sales staff stops by to pick up drug samples.
Hoteling is also ideal for project-oriented businesses. Employees working on the same project can reserve workspaces near each other to facilitate collaboration. By the same token, employees needing more privacy can reserve workspaces away from the collaborative teams.
What Type of Company is an Office Benching System Ideal For?
Office benching is ideal for businesses whose employees work remotely or are out in the field much of the day, and simply need to stop in for short periods to access technology or connect with coworkers. For example:
- Real-estate agencies,
- Companies with a large number of outside sales representatives who spend much of their time visiting businesses in person trying to win new customers, such as employment agencies looking for businesses that need temporary workers, and
- Service-oriented companies that send employees to homes or businesses to deliver, repair, or service products, machinery, or equipment.
Office benching is also ideal for businesses whose employees collaborate frequently (especially with different people at different stages of a project.) For example, an advertising agency could use benching to allow copywriters to brainstorm, and then invite graphic designers to the table when it’s time to add visuals to a campaign.
Accomplishing More With Less
Office hoteling and office benching are both valuable approaches for companies that want to offer employees flexibility, promote collaboration, and make the most of their office space. They both allow for an agile office design that is smart, efficient, and conducive to productivity. They both are efficient design approaches for accommodating workers who tend to pop in and out of the office rather than spend large amounts of time there. They both maximize the use of available square footage and allow employees to be productive within a reduced physical footprint.
Clearly, office hoteling and office benching share many similarities. The main difference in the two is that office hoteling is more about the process (reserving spaces) and office benching is more about the furniture used. For the ultimate in flexibility, employers can even opt to combine office hoteling and office benching to create the ultimate adaptable office design. They can equip their space with bench-style seating that groups, departments, teams, or individuals can reserve using a hoteling booking system. No two companies are the same, which is why there is no one-size-fits-all ideal office design!