Is desk booking overvalued?

If the old days of “My desk, your desk” are over, then why are we still claiming desks?

One could make the argument that desk booking guarantees someone a spot.

But put yourself in the shoes of your new hire:

  • You log on for the day with the intention of going to the office! But first you have to book a desk.
  • You quickly search for the few people you know (AKA your boss and a hiring manager) in hopes of booking a nearby desk.
  • There are none. The office is almost full, and you don’t know which empty seat to grab.

Cue the anxiety...

“Is it weird that I’m in a different area from my team?"
"Will someone switch seats with me?"
"Can I move around, or do I have to stay in one seat all day?”

Sense of belonging = down the drain

Today’s innovative organizations (ex. Livestorm) realize that their choices around hybrid must be intentional.
They must reflect the values of an organization. And to my understanding, most organizations want to CREATE a sense of belonging, not hinder it from the start. Research cited by Harvard Business Review reported high belonging being linked to:

  • A 56% increase in job performance
  • 50% drop in turnover risk and
  • 75% reduction in sick days

After speaking with hundreds of fast-growing startups, we came up with a frictionless, employee-centric alternative. A kind of desk booking 2.0.
And desk booking 2.0 isn’t really desk booking at all, it's something totally different, called Space booking.

What is Space Booking?

Space booking enables users to reserve a workspace in a specific area, when they need it.

Think: making a restaurant reservation for outside seating without having to choose exactly which table to sit at

Supports Dynamic Work:

Remote work gives people choice over where they work from throughout the day. For example, in the morning one might work from the couch, take a walk and decide to sit at a Café for a few hours, then head to a friend’s house or coworking spot for the rest of the day.

In the new reality of hybrid, space booking is a capacity planning strategy that not only helps workplace managers optimize their space, but also continues to support the human need for dynamic working as we transition. By keeping things flexible, employees don’t feel confined to one space because they have more freedom to move around, to interact with others throughout the day, and to switch up the scenery without the need to “book a new desk”.

Reinforces Culture:

At the end of the day, desk booking helps employers maintain control, space booking provides employees with a better hybrid experience.

Space booking communicates that the office is to be used as just another place to do heads-down work from and maybe run into people you know, while Workplace Managers spend their time maintaining law and order to solve who took whose desk. While space booking reflects a culture that is collaborative by nature, trusting, and powers a workplace where people come to interact, collaborate, and meet up.

Creates Social Serendipity:

Desk booking, while it does help capacity planning, can ultimately squash social serendipity. It’s unexciting and takes the thrill out of going to the office.

What space booking solves for is two-sided. It guarantees people a space by enabling them to book a spot in a particular zone, with context around who else will be in that same office, floor, or area, but leaves room for surprise and excitement that we all long for, but are missing from 2021 Hybrid experience - until now.

And as travel picks up and people begin visiting different offices than their own, giving people the opportunity and freedom to book a space rather than a desk could be the key to unlocking in-office social serendipity between visiting and local employees.

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Danielle Farage

Director of Growth & Marketing @ Café

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