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I work as a research analyst in a fairly large company and split my time between two different sites, alternating between them on successive weeks. One of the sites is running out of space and is therefore requiring that employees who aren't on the site at all times begin working from 'hoteling' desks. I put that in quotes because these aren't proper desks; they're simply unadorned chairs out in the middle of the hallway with a little lap desk attached (think of the tray table on an airline seat), and they're planned to be as such for the duration. In this position, I wouldn't be able to keep any papers, books, a computer monitor, etc., and working in the middle of a hallway without any privacy or quiet would make it impossible to get anything done. I've told my boss about the problem and he's sympathetic, but this is a large company where these sorts of arrangements are handled by a separate, bureaucracy-laden department. Their response has simply been that there's a rule that only people who are on the site every day are allowed to have cubicles or desks, and that's the end of it as far as they're concerned.

So, what are my options here? Part of my job involves coordinating analysis with people at the separate sites, so working from home every other week isn't really a viable option. If I do go into the site, I won't be able to make much progress on my own work. I like the job otherwise, but I think this situation is bad enough to make me quit. This is certainly not the only company with hoteling in place (although usually it's done much better, with proper facilities); how is it handled elsewhere?

closed as off-topic by keshlam, Dawny33, gnat, The Wandering Dev Manager, Chris E Feb 2 '16 at 15:06

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because survey-style questions ("how do others do it") are a bad fit for Stack Exchange, and the answers wouldn't help you if management's already made up their minds that this should be adequate. If you rephrase to ask for ways that you can make this almost workable, that might generate useful answers. – keshlam Feb 2 '16 at 2:12
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    The real problem here is less hoteling than the failure to provide proper workspaces and storage facilities. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 2 '16 at 2:12
  • I can understand requiring hoteling desks for some positions, but that usually includes an actual desk. It sounds like you are being forced back into high school style desks, which is really not acceptable in my opinion. – David K Feb 2 '16 at 13:21
  • It sounds like your real question is "how do I get out of this crappy work environment?", which would be on-topic IMO. I also think a question about common practices for space-constrained offices would be on-topic -- not a poll but a study, if you see the difference. – Monica Cellio Feb 2 '16 at 17:32
  • Would there be an option where you share a desk with someone who is on the location on the alternate weeks? That was the desk is never unused so there is no valid complaint. – Weckar E. Mar 9 '17 at 12:01
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So, what are my options here?

You could quit and find work at a company that doesn't use hoteling. Or you could stick it out and make the best of it that you can.

If you choose the latter, some folks try to make such a situation tolerable by:

  • Being away from the office as much as possible
  • When in the office, see if it would be permissible to borrow a desk from a coworker who is absent for the day
  • Some folks have coworkers who have a schedule "opposite" from theirs - one is always away while the other is in the office. Some companies will let these two workers share one workspace.
  • Some companies provide storage space (lockable filing cabinet, lockable drawers, etc, for people who are hoteling.
  • Carry a bin or bag containing the paperwork, books, magazines you need for the day. Avoid paper wherever you can and use online resources instead
  • Ask if you could camp out in an unused conference room for the day. Of course each day you are in the office you'll need to ask which room is unused.

Ask you boss about the possibilities of these sorts of accommodations.

I like the job otherwise, but I think this situation is bad enough to make me quit.

That's always an option. I would suggest that you give this new arrangement a try before you conclude that it's not tolerable.

Hoteling, is just an extension of cost-saving measures like tiny cubicles, open workspaces, etc that have made work environments much worse over the years, in my opinion. I think it's unfortunate, but it does seem to be the fad these days. Hopefully at your company it will only be a temporary measure.

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This is not legal advice, as we do not know which country you are working in, but the arrangement may break health and safety laws.

In the UK

Workrooms should have enough free space to allow people to get to and from workstations and to move within the room, with ease

Which might not apply in a corridor full of desks

Also, again in the UK:

The total volume of the room, when empty, divided by the number of people normally working in it should be at least 11 cubic metres

If the arrangement breaks health and safety laws, then you can use this to make a very strong case for the change not to go ahead. Companies should be keen to engage employees in thinking about how to make the workplace safer.

Source for quotes: HSE.go.uk

  • It's really unfortunate that other first-world countries don't have regulations like this to prevent employees from being treated like cattle. – alroc Feb 2 '16 at 18:06
  • One point that can be made is that the added strain from such a working environment can be attributed to any health issues down the line. The cost of such issues will likely offset any savings they could hope for. – Aron Feb 3 '16 at 10:24
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What they ask you to use as your working environment seems ridiculous. I'd check out if it is acceptable if you are not personally present but very close by (like minutes) and there is a Starbucks or similar nearby which might be willing to let you work there either for buying a coffee every hour, or for one generous tip a day. Not the perfect environment by far, but must be better than a chair in a hallway.

An alternative would be to try to pull strings with your boss at that site and be "officially" present permanently.

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