Hoteling

The Japanese instituted something called a pod hotel or a capsule hotel.  As Wikipedia states:

A capsule hotel (??????? kapuseru hoteru), also known as a pod hotel, is a type of hotel developed in Japan that features a large number of extremely small “rooms” (capsules) intended to provide cheap, basic overnight accommodation for guests who do not require or who cannot afford the services offered by more conventional hotels.

One of the key things to keep in mind is the idea that this is intended to be for “basis overnight accommodation“, not a long term stay.  In the business world there is a similar concept called “hoteling“, but some companies completely screw it up.

In what way?  Well, let’s take a look at the meaning of hoteling:

With hoteling, workers are not assigned their own desks; instead, they reserve a desk for their temporary use for just the days they expect to work in the office. The benefits of hoteling over a more traditional, one-desk-per-employee scenario include saving costs on commercial real estate, as well as creating opportunities for staff to mingle and collaborate more.

The practice of hoteling has resulted from increased worker mobility, enabled by advances in mobile technology. Organizations whose workers travel frequently, or with growing remote or mobile workforces, are best suited to hoteling. A Washington Post article cites the rising use of hoteling as reflecting a shift from the office being a “home base” to being a “hospitality hub.”

OK, now let’s look at this, one line at a time and see how well your organization stacks up.  Let me know if you feel that your company does or doesn’t understand the concepts.

  • With hoteling, workers are not assigned their own desks; instead, they reserve a desk for their temporary use for just the days they expect to work in the office.  Do you have people who are assigned small cubicles, tiny cubicles really, on a permanent basis?  Are they in the office day after day, not just occasionally?  Is this their assigned desk and they don’t just pick from the pool of available desks?  Do they have a phone number routed to that desk?  If you answered “yes” to any of those questions than your company doesn’t understand the concept.  But maybe they’ll do better on the next one.
  • The benefits of hoteling over a more traditional, one-desk-per-employee scenario include saving costs on commercial real estate, as well as creating opportunities for staff to mingle and collaborate more. Is your role, is the task that you perform, better suited to collaborative work where meeting other people is necessary, or are you more of a thinking/fixer, where your daily activities are not predicated on working with others, but solving puzzles.  If your work is collaborative, then, sure, the hoteling approach may be more appropriate.  But if you solve problems, if you require time to think, then perhaps hoteling is not the approach.  How well did your organization do?
  • The practice of hoteling has resulted from increased worker mobility, enabled by advances in mobile technology.  Does your job take advantage of mobile technology?  Can you do the majority of your work from a tablet or your smartphone?  Is the desk more of a place to put things while you are going from one meeting to another?  Are people more likely to find you elsewhere than at your desk?  If you answered “no” to these questions then hoteling is probably not the solution for you.
  • Organizations whose workers travel frequently, or with growing remote or mobile workforces, are best suited to hoteling. I think this one is pretty obvious: are you working remotely or travel a lot?  Then you are a candidate for hoteling.  For some of you, those of you who are reading this at your permanently assigned hotel desk?  No, this is not appropriate.
  • A Washington Post article cites the rising use of hoteling as reflecting a shift from the office being a “home base” to being a “hospitality hub.” Do  you consider your location to be a “hospitality hub”?  I didn’t think so.  Inhospitable maybe.

How well did your organization do?  I bet for some of you your organization failed.  Big time.

So, in an environment where people live like sardines, what is the impact?  Well, productivity goes down.  When you are thrown into a space where they are giving you 35 square feet of space (and that includes the walkway behind your desk) your productivity will drop.  Let’s call it 10 percent.  I can honestly envisage a 10% drop without having to work on it.  If I did a study I think I would come in at 20% or higher, but let’s pick 10%.  For planning purposes let’s use $100 per hours because that makes things easier.  So, 10% productivity loss at $100 per hour means that over the course of 8 hours we lose $80 worth of productivity.

That’s $400 per week or $20,000 per year.

And if you are doing this to, let’s say 25 people then you just had a productivity hit of $500,000 per year.  You now need to hire 2.5 more people to cover the lost productivity.  Oh, wait, you’ll need more space.  Welcome to the never ending spiral.  I’ve written about this over and over and over again.  But when I recently saw some architecture diagrams for “Hoteling Stations” and realized that these would be the permanent homes of some people, I just lost it.

Respect is critical to having a good relationship with your people.  But if you are cramming them into a location that you yourself could never work, are you actually showing them any respect?

 

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