Making the Transition to Hoteling Performance Analysis


Rapid growth at this company’s San Diego office has caused the company to outgrow its current location. Within the next year, they will be adding approximately 40 new employees to the staff. However, the current office configuration will only accommodate 20 new desks.

Management has reviewed a variety of possible solutions, such as telecommuting, renting additional office space in the same building or nearby, and hoteling. After reviewing the various options, it has been determined that making the transition to hoteling is the most feasible option.

A change such as this is always challenging, but in this case, there is an additional obstacle. The staff is aware of the severe problems encountered in the LA Basin offices when they began hoteling.

Sources of Information and Audience

Much of the information in this report comes from two of the Audit Managers who will be primarily responsible for implementing the changes in the San Diego office, and supervising the employees involved. Although they are aware of the many potential problems with this solution, they also know that hoteling their staff is inevitable. Additional information has been obtained from Audit Managers in other offices, as well as from auditors, all of who are currently involved in hoteling. Several articles about companies that are using hoteling were used as references as well.

This analysis is intended for the supervisors and managers who will be overseeing the transition. It will review what has worked well for other offices and companies and what went wrong.

This report will be presented to District Office staff directly responsible for implementing any changes in the current work environment. This includes Audit Managers, Loss Control Managers, and Field Services Managers.

Performance Analysis

In looking into the various possible solutions, it was recognized that the hoteling of field employees represented the easiest and least disruptive of the possible solutions. Field employees spend approximately 75% of their time in the field. The normal work habit is to spend one day in the office, the balance in the field.

Hoteling became popular in 1996 and 1997 when some companies switched entirely to hoteling, an experiment that typically failed. Some analysts feel that hoteling has not generally worked that well. However, hoteling on the scale proposed here is now fairly common. It is interesting to note that a Computerworld survey listed employee satisfaction as the greatest benefit of hoteling, followed by saving money on office space.1 The employees at this office fit the description of employees who can work well with hoteling.

As the transition has not yet started in this office, it is important to review problems and successes encountered in other offices.

The problems encountered in the LA Basin office are well known in the San Diego office, and will probably make it more difficult to achieve a smooth transition here. Although the situation here is different, the negative perception remains. The changes in LA left employees feeling they were not valued. In effect, they were told to do this or lose their jobs. A comfortable, productive work area was not provided. Supervisors were not accessible to employees. The attitude of management is vital during such a transition. The feeling among employees that they are not valued when a company goes to hoteling is common, and steps must be taken to prevent this.

Lack of equipment is another major problem. An often-cited example is the lack of basic items, such as pens and staplers at each desk. Office equipment such as faxes, printers, and copiers are sometimes located far from the people who need to use them. Ideally, all desks should have the basic supplies at hand, and major equipment such as faxes should be located nearby.

Comfort is an issue related to equipment. If the work area is poorly laid out, it can be noisy and hard to work in. Partitions can help with this issue by controlling noise levels and giving a touch of privacy. As desks may be used by many people, good chairs matter more than ever. Easily adjusted, ergonomically correct chairs may help a great deal in this situation, and may even be considered a benefit of hoteling.

Security is another concern, both for business equipment and personal effects. All auditors have laptop computers already and need to be able to lock them to their assigned desks so they may walk away at need. Employees need a safe place to store items such as purses and coffee mugs, as well as paperwork. Access to lockers or file cabinets would help in this area.


Many of these problems are caused by a lack of communication between the supervisor and the employee. A “do this or else” attitude on the part of management results in problems not only for the office making the transition but also for other offices that do so later. If the need for the change is not clearly communicated, employees are not likely to buy into the change. After hoteling is set up, supervisors in some offices have become hard to reach.

Problems may also be caused by a lack of planning. If equipment needs are not taken into consideration, even small things such as a lack of pens can have a severe effect on morale.

For the supervisors who must oversee this transition, motivation, knowledge, and skills are the primary drivers. When the supervisor doesn’t see how a transition to hoteling will affect morale, they are not likely to worry about what the employees think of the matter. If they don’t know how to make the change smoothly and effectively, the employees will be unhappy with the results.

Change is always difficult. Both supervisors and employees have to deal with a fear of the unknown. Supervisors need to be aware of issues the employees will be facing, and the resentment that may be caused by the employees’ loss of personal desks, which they are used to having, and are traditionally taken for granted. According to Yvette Lucio, this is the biggest roadblock. “People are sensitive about their space. With hoteling, you’re taking away something from the employee. Compared to coworkers with dedicated space, hoteled employees feel deprived.” She notes, however, that after a few months, this problem decreases, and the ability to “interact with people and solve problems take priority over how much square footage they maintain at the office.”2


Communication between employees and supervisors is key before, during, and after this transition. Employees are losing something important to them, and need to understand both the need of the company and how they will benefit. Allowing current employees to assist in the design of the new setup and letting them voice their concerns may accomplish this.

Improved equipment will help as well. Chairs, as previously mentioned, need to be easily adjusted. Electric staplers may prove to be less likely to vanish from their assigned desk. As employees will no longer have regular telephones at their desks, cell phones will help, both in the office and in the field. Cell phones can easily be presented as a benefit to hoteling, although they may quickly come to be viewed as a right. Care must be taken to ensure that the cell phones selected work well in most of the areas the auditors work, especially the office.

Many software programs have been developed to allow employees to electronically reserve a desk. Scheduling can be Web-based or require that the employee call in to reserve a space. Easy reservations are important, as this will be a reminder to employees that they do not have a space of their own.

A job aid discussing the various problems and suggested solutions may be of help to the supervisors. It would need to include basic advice on explaining the situation to existing employees and equipment upgrades that the company will be willing to make. The supervisors will need to have a clear understanding of how their employees will make reservations and who is responsible for ensuring that equipment is available at need. The supervisors will be able to plan and implement the transition to hoteling with a minimum of disruption.

A second job aid may be of use to the employees. It would be a reference guide detailing the ways to make reservations for their desks and equipment. This would allow them to successfully arrange for a desk to be available at the office when needed.


1. Johnson, Amy Helen (2000, March 20); Touch Down; Borrowing a wire is all that’s necessary when itinerant workers temporarily land at the office; Computerworld; Tech-Features, pg. 0.

2. Van Winkle, William (2000, October); Checking Inn at the Office; Home Office Computing; Workstyles section, pg. 92.