Capacity Management for Hybrid Teams

If you’re a fast-growing organization, odds are you, 1) entered the pandemic with a way lower headcount than you have today, and/or 2) have fewer desks than people.

These challenges force us to ask questions we've never had to answer, like:

  • “How do we manage office capacity to make sure everyone who needs a desk has one?”
  • "If we invest in a new space, should we require people to come on specific days so as not to waste resources?"

Common Approaches Fall Short

The return-to-office conversation began at the end of 2020. Due to social distancing rules and limited office space, many organizations were forced to limit the number of people allowed at the office on any given day. Thousands adopted spreadsheets and desk-booking apps, attempting to manage the flow of people coming to offices.

Spreadsheets & Simple Tools

Solving the capacity problem with a simple spreadsheet or desk tool is extremely difficult to pull off. Not to mention, requiring people to fill out said spreadsheets negatively impacts employee experience, and leaves workplace and HR teams with unreliable data to analyze.

After interviewing hundreds of workplace managers, here are the main problems they encountered in setting hard limits with spreadsheets & desking tools:

1. First-come, last-served

A first-come-first-served approach is applied to most spreadsheets. Those who don't secure a spot (and need to be in the office) will come - regardless of whether they put their name down for all to see. Some junior employees we interviewed recalled signing up for a spot, only to show up to the office and be told they couldn't go upstairs.

2. Second class citizens

When junior employees are displaced by senior employees, they're discouraged from coming to the office. And workplace managers or people leaders are forced to police spaces, with no good way to internally communicate context for their decisions. The implications are unending: reinforces hierarchical structures of work, creates tension and accelerates inequities.

3. Underutilized space

When there's a limited number of seats, people tend to their agenda with office days, and tend to cancel at the last minute.

3-2 Office Mandates

To optimize space and resources, many organizations have now begun straying from a flexible hybrid model, implementing 3-2 office mandates. While this may solve the problem in the short term, restricting flexibility goes against most findings and could be one reason people are leaving their jobs. The Future Forum's survey, stated, "Flexibility is a step toward building a more diverse inclusive, and equitable workplace."

Office Management 2.0

It's time to rethink the approach, and we believe the best way to do so is to allow an overcapacity to happen.

I know, it's counter-intuitive and sounds hard to pull off, but it's also fair and flexible.

Capacity Management

When you allow an overcapacity to happen, it's important for employees to be able to send a personal note to the admin, providing content on why they need a space at the office. 👇

Resolve & Manage capacity in 1-click

Here, admins can resolve any overcapacity in 1 click, in advance of office days based on lots of different data points, including:

  • Order of arrival
  • Team attendance
  • Weekly planning (policy limits and prioritizing)
  • Specific reason

This way, the admin has more context and information to resolve overcapacity issues, and can even double confirm a space booking when it's full.

Why trust us?

Besides the countless hours we've spent speaking with workplace managers across the globe, and the fact that we've been a hybrid organization since our inception, Café is the only platform with a Capacity Resolution Center that efficiently solves capacity management problems for hybrid teams.

By leveraging this tool, we've helped:

✅ Hundreds of Workplace Managers reclaim thousands of hours they would've spent getting involved in office politics

✅ Global organizations retain talent by maintaining a flexible-first (AKA empathetic & human-centric) model

✅ Employees enjoy a better employee experience by empowering them with a tool they actually want to engage in, because it's built for them!

If you're looking for better ways to not only resolve capacity issues, but effectively manage capacity, reach out to the Café team at or click here to learn more.

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Danielle Farage

Director of Growth & Marketing @ Café

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