In our rapidly evolving professional landscape, the concept of work continues to transform. The traditional office routine has given way to more people performing their jobs across geographies and with varied schedules. This shift has brought along innovative workplace strategies like benching and hoteling, which are revolutionizing how, when, and where work is done.
Hybrid work arrangements acknowledge that not all tasks require a physical presence in the office, and they empower employees to strike a balance between work and personal life. Hybrid work models have become essential and in most cases have proven their viability. (However, not everyone is sold on such schedules’ effectiveness, as discussed in our previous article, “The 2023 Biamp Conferencing Tech Survey Report: The Return to the Office is Hybrid but Equal.”)
Well before the word “Covid” occupied our vernacular, workplace environments were undergoing transformation. Open-office architecture became trendy and today is widespread. Technological advancements meant increased flexibility in terms of where employees could effectively perform their day-to-day tasks.
But the pandemic kicked into overdrive the global shift to hybrid work schedules as the new norm, and many of the office environment trends that began to take root years ago are now becoming more widespread.
One example is benching, which is a workspace strategy that promotes collaboration and interaction among in-office employees. Instead of assigned desks, employees share long, communal tables or “benches,” creating a more open and dynamic environment. Benching fosters communication, encourages teamwork, and can optimize office space utilization.
Another increasingly common workplace arrangement is hoteling, which takes the concept of flexible workspaces a step further. Instead of having dedicated workstations, employees reserve desks or meeting rooms as needed. This approach allows for maximum flexibility, as employees can choose the most suitable workspace based on their specific tasks and requirements. Hoteling is particularly beneficial for organizations with a significant portion of their workforce operating remotely.
Such strategies provide obvious benefits. Where benching encourages spontaneous interactions and knowledge sharing, fostering a culture of innovation, hoteling optimizes office space and reduces real estate costs, making it a financially savvy choice for employers. And, in general, offering hybrid work options, along with benching and hoteling, can make an organization more attractive to top talent.
While these strategies offer numerous advantages, they also come with challenges. Companies must address issues like equitable access to workplace technology, effective communication in hybrid settings, maintaining company culture with a distributed workforce, and making it quick and easy for employees to reserve shared in-office resources—such as a workstation in a benching or hoteling environment—from anywhere. (Reserving office resources quickly and easily, and integrating a scheduling system with other office technologies, such as conferencing solutions, is now easier than ever thanks to Biamp’s acquisition of scheduling pioneer Evoko.)
Yet another “new normal” challenge involves workplace acoustics. Inconsistent—and more disruptive—office acoustics have become increasingly prevalent because of onsite employees’ staggered schedules and varying physical locations, i.e., working in a benching or hoteling environment. One of the most effective ways to mitigate workplace noise distractions—and in turn improve employee comfort and productivity—is by installing a sound masking system.
As the future of work continues to evolve, hybrid work models, along with strategies like benching and hoteling, will remain at the forefront of this transformation. They provide organizations and employees with the flexibility and adaptability needed to thrive in the modern work environment. By embracing and thoughtfully implementing these innovative approaches, companies can create a workplace that is both productive and employee-centric, setting the stage for a brighter future of work.
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