Tips for When You Don’t Always Have a Desk


When I first heard the term “hoteling” about five years ago, I thought it meant I’d be sharing a cushy hotel room at the Ritz Carlton with my closest colleagues. Not so much.

Hoteling, a practice that has grown as corporate and governmental budgets have shrunk, is the practice of eliminating designated office space for touchdown spaces, shared offices not assigned to any one employee to save money and energy. I’ve seen both government agencies and private entities ditch expensive square feet recently.

Of course, hoteling has its pros and cons. Here are some tips and advice if you find yourself sharing space with a stranger or having to rotate in and out of a desk.

  1. Introduce yourself. This seems obvious, but if you are sharing an office, workspace or cube with someone you don’t know, exchange pleasantries. I’ve met people from all different parts of my company and who knows when knowing them might come in handy. Besides, it’s just basic good manners. What are you, a robot?
  2. Lose the headphones, grab a backpack. I am the first one to admit that I am practically addicted to my wireless headphones. With a small child, the only way I get to “read” these days is through audiobooks pumped through my eardrums as I pound the pavement, pushing a stroller. But why isolate yourself at work? Keep your ears open and you might learn something. And you look more engaged and open to conversation. Secondly, if you are still lugging your laptop around in a shoulder bag, you must enjoy back, neck and shoulder pain. I swear by my laptop backpack, which I find to be both stylish and unencumbering.
  3. Listen up and butt in. So, once you’ve peeled those headphones off your ears, you may actually pick up on what kind of work your office mate is doing, and it might even be interesting. On more than one occasion, I’ve met people who could directly help me with projects I was working on, or knew someone who could. I think it is perfectly fine to ask your colleague questions; in fact, it shows you are interested.
  4. But, be polite. Here’s where the “no fish” rule comes in. In other words, don’t bring smelly food, try to keep your voice down during phone calls and generally be a good neighbor. And hey, if you want to go the extra mile, why not offer to grab your colleague a coffee if you’re going to get one for yourself.
  5. Exchange information. Before you go, why not try to stay connected, sharing email addresses with each other. You never know when someone in your network needs your help, or who can help you in return.

Alexis Fabbri is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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