“You’re in My Seat”: Pros, Cons and Tips to Handle Hoteling


It’s another day in the office, and you are flying down the corridor, gripping your grande pumpkin spice latte (hooray for fall!) in one hand and scrolling through email on your phone with the other. You have a meeting that starts in three minutes, and you are trying to drop everything at your desk before you run off again. You start up your laptop and are about to bolt for the conference room when a stranger walks up to you and calmly states, “I believe you are in my seat.”

Just the day in the life of a hoteling employee.

In the last few years, the federal government has been embracing a trend in workspace management called hoteling, wherein traditional, permanent offices and cubicles are replaced with temporary workspaces that employees reserve for a short period of time.

My organization implemented hoteling a few years ago, and let me tell you, we felt some major growing (and groaning!) pains. We humans are creatures of habit, and making this type of change definitely wasn’t easy.

Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of hoteling as well as a few tips to help you be successful when handling this growing government trend.


  • Providing space for every employee gets expensive, and with the increase of telework (working from an alternate location, such as from home) in the government, it doesn’t make sense to have a designated space for someone who is working from home three days a week. Reducing the number of workspaces is a huge cost savings for any organization and very enticing when dealing with budget cuts.
  • Being able to choose where you sit can make projects and collaboration easier than ever. One day you can rub elbows with your teammate to finish a project, and the next day, you can find a seat by a group of customers who need your assistance. The ability to float from one spot to another gives you flexibility to get your work done more efficiently.
  • Is your neighbor talking loudly on the phone? Is the person across from you sneezing a little too much? Hoteling allows you to find an open spot so changing locations isn’t a big deal. This can be extremely useful when you are looking for a place where you need to get some work done ASAP without being distracted.


  • While this type of space management does allow for easier collaboration, it can also be very difficult to find others. In the traditional office set up, you know exactly where Bob’s office is, but in a hoteling situation, you could be roaming a hallway or wing for 20 minutes to find your coworker or boss in order to get some face time.
  • One of the hardest things about hoteling for me has been packing and unpacking items I normally would leave in a traditional office setting. Leaving a calendar, a photo of the family, a container of pencils and a tape dispenser isn’t an option. You can’t assume you’ll be able to book the same space again tomorrow or next week. Unpacking my rolling suitcase (yes, I’ve become that person who brings a roller bag to work!) every day I’m in the office takes time and lugging my stuff from place to place increases the likelihood that I will lose something in the process.
  • Sitting in a space where someone was eating greasy pizza at the desk and typing the day before can be kind of gross – especially when there is dried cheese plastered on the Caps Lock key. Keeping things sanitary is definitely a challenge in this setting.
  • The “Excuse me, but you are sitting in my seat” moment always feels confrontational and awkward. Do you gather all of your belongings and try to find another seat? Do you gracefully ask this stranger standing over you to look for some place else that is open? Everyone forgets sometimes, but it always feels inconvenient.


  • Reserve space in advance. Set a reminder and reserve a work space when you know you will be in the office to make sure you have dibs on that window seat you love so much.
  • Communicate with your coworkers. If you are having trouble connecting with others while in the office, tell them. Ask everyone to put their seat location on a shared calendar or start a group chat at the beginning of the day to find out where your teammates are sitting. This way, you won’t have to run around the halls when you need to check in during the day.
  • Wipe it up. Our organization tries to combat the sanitation issue by providing wet wipes to clean up a shared keyboard and seating space each day. Check to see if your office has a similar option. If not, team up with coworkers to buy wipes in bulk and leave them in a communal area for everyone to use.
  • Be gracious. If you are sitting in someone’s seat or if someone is sitting in your seat, remember the golden rule – treat others as you want to be treated. Extend grace, and work with those around you to find a resolution to double-booking or forgetful booking issues.

Lacey Scully 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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Devorah Adler, Office of Systems, Systems Analyst

Really useful article! We aren’t “hoteling” yet, but it may be coming and it’s always good to be prepared with tips and tricks!