New ammo for small business owners
As an independent contractor, I wholeheartedly understand what it means to have a professional demeanor and brand that faces my client and I am lucky enough to have a broker with a stunning office that I get to utilize with all of its additional benefits when I need them for initial meetings and client introductions. I understand that the client wants to know that their agent or consultant is a professional who is able to manage their transactions, time, and keep things organized (not just for them, but for themselves).
Have you ever walked into someone else’s office and seen their filing system (ahem – or lack thereof) and thought oh, sweet baby Jeeeeesus… I can’t have this person handling my this-that-or the other thing? I know you have thought it, it may have even been a coworker that you were frightened by their leaning tower-o-files. We’ve all seen it. Also, how often do you see people that have home offices inviting their clients “into the fold” so to speak or to “come to the office” if they are consultants who work from their home office? You don’t see that, is the answer and if you said that, gold star for you.
Is the artillery for you? Small business owners opt in
In these times where we see many folks telecommuting and enjoying the benefits of a home office, there is an increased need for organizations that offer hoteling options for small business owners and independent contractors who are looking to hold a high powered meeting in a location that isn’t lunch over at the neighborhood TGIFridays or in the local library. No, these independent business owners have worked too hard to build up their reputation as a solid business owner and they want to flash a little class and sophistication!
Enter the not-so-new intelligent offices of the world, where people can rent out a space, a cubicle, and glassed-in office, a conference room, or even just have their phone calls routed through a professional reception team before they get to you. Intelligent offices are a smart way for people who do not currently have the budget for the overhead of a fully leased commercial space to receive the benefits of a higher-end executive suite. Rent a conference room; receive full reception services from a professional administrative team; even attend or teach at professional development seminars so you can strengthen and sharpen your own business savvy.
Bringing out the big guns: Booz Allen Hamilton and hoteling
Speaking of savvy, the concept of business hoteling isn’t just for the small business mind you, no. It has evolved into something much more interesting and sustainable for some of our nation’s top consulting firms. McLean, Virginia’s Booz Allen Hamilton, the original consulting firm and defense contractor went public… then they went hotel.
Yes, if it is good enough for Booz Allen’s elite team of professionals to have to call in to reserve their desks, then it must be good enough for the rest of us! It has been just over a year since they implemented the practice where junior level staff had to “call in” to reserve their desk and to date, it seems to be working wonders. From privacy rooms to collaboration rooms, Booz has thought of everything to make their system of hoteling work for their employees and the style of business that they conduct; they even request that some employees telecommute to reduce the demand on office space and improve employee moral and productivity.
Booz started to develop this program in 2009 as they were growing significantly. Since there weren’t enough desks at the main offices and they understood that most of the consultants were usually on client sites, why did these folks even need offices if they weren’t even going to be there to fill them? Since inception, Booz has streamlined their operations by closing the doors to a facility in McLean, eliminating the need for the operating costs, which can be substantial for a commercial building of that size. Hoteling is about business sustainability and makes perfect sense for the consultant who is always on the go.
You sank my battleship: the downfalls of hoteling
If a larger business is thinking about hoteling, yes there are many cost saving benefits such as the cost savings from operating costs going down, etc.; however, you need to think about potential pitfalls, too. There is the possibility that there will be a loss of brand identity and community if your employees aren’t always seeing each other or your branding. Employees who are telecommuting might not have all of the resources that they need in their home environment and the other distractions as identified in the recent corporate A.D.D. article.
And let’s not forget about the slacker employee that you have to chase after while their at work… what happens when you leave them to their own devices?! If you do think that the hoteling option might be something you’re interested in, the Booz Allen Hamilton model seems to be working well in full swing after just over a year of use. Keep in mind, they managed change and expectations through extensive videos and online help tools to get their staff acquainted with this seemingly foreign office structure.
Hoteling can be a great option for larger businesses who have created a very streamlined and well executed plan and can also work wonders for small business owners looking for that outward-facing, professional edge that they had been looking for in a more sustainable way.