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Desk booking

Best practices for numbering desks in booking systems

Pre-COVID-19 and hybrid working, the need for a desk numbering system to identify desks was of minimal importance, as individuals would typically sit at the same desk every day.

Now, as office spaces are being re-modelled and, in many cases, reduced, to suit a hybrid working model, it’s likely that people will need to pre-book a desk to ensure there’s enough room for their visit.

And it’s highly likely this could be a different desk each time, depending on availability and the purpose of the office visit.

For example, you may wish to sit in a quiet space one day, or with colleagues the next.

This makes having a logical desk numbering system that makes it easy for users of the system to find their booked work desk on arrival of vital importance.

Here are the top best practices when it comes to numbering and labelling your desks and workspaces.

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1. Replace legacy desk numbering schemes

Although it is possible to reflect pre-existing desk numbers in your booking system, many organisations are taking the opportunity to re-number their desks ‘from scratch’.

In our experience old CAD diagrams and numbering systems can quickly become out-of-date: Desks can get informally ‘nudged’ around and added or removed over the years.

This can lead to out of sequence numbers that will make it extremely difficult for users of the system to locate their booked desk without lots of ‘hunting around’.

2. ‘Walk the floor’ in person

If possible, the best way to number workspaces is to ‘walk the floor’ in person.

We recommend that you make ‘desk number 1‘ the first desk you would physically see/encounter if you walked clockwise* through the office space, starting from the main entrance.

Numbering should be applied logically from that point on using the following conventions:

  • Apply numbers to each ‘bank’ of desks in a clockwise fashion where possible.
  • If there is a logical area, zone or room, treat that area as a separate entity and circulate clockwise within that zone, even if the zone cuts across a walkway.

Consistency is key, as is visibility of your numbers (see point 5).  This will help ‘users’ of your office intuitively understand how to navigate to their booked workspace.

It will also minimise ‘criss-crossing’ across the floor – this being an important consideration should social distancing requirements emerge in the future.

This example shows the right way and the wrong way to number your desks:

Tips for numbering your desks for a Covid-secure booking system

*Depending on your office layout, clockwise may not always be the best choice.  Ultimately follow the most logical ‘travel flow’ from the entrance to the office, floor, room of desks or other ‘compartmentalised’ area within a floor.

3. Future proof your desk numbering system

It’s inevitable that your office floor plans will change over time, but here are a few tips that will minimise the amount of changes you will need to make to your desk booking system.

Number all workspaces – We recommend that all potentially bookable workspaces are assigned numbers, even if not all of them are currently bookable within your desk booking system.

This means if anything changes in the future, you’ll just have to amend what’s bookable in your workspace management system, and not need to make any changes to your floor plan or physical signage.

We have seen (and thankfully, averted) more than one project where the initial intention was to number just to the ‘safely distanced’ desks (see example below).

As this company has now progressed to a fully bookable hybrid working space, an approach like this would have rapidly become out of date had it been implemented.

For example:

The key downside to this approach is that social distancing requirements may change.

Build in ‘air gaps’ – Whenever it appears that there is space ‘on plan’ to accommodate additional desks, we recommend you apply an ‘airgap’ and commence numbering in the next logical section with suitable break or say, 5 or 10 desks.

This means that additional desks can be introduced without adding ‘out of sequence’ numbers.

4. Simplify your desk numbering convention for users

If you have a single, relatively small office space and just a few floors, a numbering scheme that by design accommodates the ‘floor level issue’ is to prefix the desk number with the floor number.

      E.g., 038 would be desk 38 on the ground floor, desk 139 would be the 39th desk on the first floor.

Having a convention for identifying desks in larger organisation can be a challenge, especially when there’s many different locations, buildings, floors and so on.

It’s not untypical for our customers to use a numbering nomenclature that includes the following attributes into a desk ID:


This would result in, for example:

BRS 1A F1 D067

Whilst this lengthy code can exist ‘behind the scenes’ in your desk booking system (for example, so you can report on desk utilisation by location), it’s not necessary to label your floor plans or desks with this full code.

Why? Consider these points:

  • Physically applying such a long number to each desk on the floor plan would be visually confusing
  • Desk availability, location and facilities are typically more important factors than the actual desk number at the point of booking the desk*
  • The location, building and floor level is embedded in the floor plan navigation experience and can be added to the floor plan graphic, making ‘LOCATION CODE’ + ‘BUILDING CODE’ + ‘FLOOR NUMBER’ + irrelevant
  • Ditto, your office buildings will be physically labelled with the location and floor levels.

These are our recommendations:

Use just ranges of numbers on floor plans

For the best UX when labelling your floor plans, we recommend adding just a range of numbers under each bank of desks or logical area.

Add desk way-finding signage to your office spaces

To help individuals locate their booked desk on arrival, emulating the convention that’s used to signpost hotel rooms will help your staff rapidly locate their workspace with the minimum of effort (and minimal criss-crossing the floor).

5. Individually label your physical desks

Returning to a ‘hybrid office’ space, with different desk layouts and new collaboration spaces can be daunting enough – even more so if you’re a ‘new start’.

The last thing you’ll want is an argument over whether you’re sitting at the right desk or not.

Surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for this vital component of implementing a successful desk booking system (i.e. labelling desks) to be overlooked.

In short, the desk numbers or ‘IDs’ used in your desk booking system and floor plans should always be indicated on your physical workspace.

Only this way can users of the system ensure that the desk they have pre-booked is the desk they’ve arrived at.

You may also wish to enforce authenticated check-in (e.g., using your staff ID cards) to ensure that the correct user has arrived at the correct desk.

As discussed in the previous point, for the best user experience, your label should put the emphasis on the most relevant aspects of the desk ID, i.e., Desk Number and Floor number, and have the other elements in ‘small print’.

6. What’s the best way to physically number desks?

When considering how you’ll apply numbers to your desks, there are many neat and low cost options open to you.

For example, you can use individual desk devices that incorporate desk numbers and other features such as:

  • Glowing free/busy status
  • Desk ID or bookee’s name
  • Contactless booking and check-in functionality
  • Your company branding

Desk devices also make change desk numbers really easy!

If you don’t have the budget available, our low-cost favourites include:

Engraved disks – During the pandemic, many restaurant and bar owners scrambled to adopt QR code ordering for contactless service and deliveries. This same approach is supported by many desk booking apps.

Not only are they nice and neat, they don’t cost a lot at all and come with different fixings. Check out our favourite supplier’s options.

As part of our workspace booking systems delivery service, our team will help you generate an excel spreadsheet of QR codes to create your desk disks.  Get in touch for more information.

Examples of steel engraved desk signs
This is a low cost and smart way to add signage to support your desk booking system

Simple cards

Combined with a card holder clip that sits nicely on top of workstations, this is a simple but elegant approach to ensuring your desk booking system works smoothly.  They can also be made highly visible as shown in the customer example below.

They cost just 5 pence each and all you need is some coloured cards and a printer!  You could also incorporate a QR code into the sign.  Again, our service includes creating a spreadsheet of your workspace IDs so you can create labels in Microsoft Word.

Use simple cards & card holders for your desk numbering
A simple and low cost way to clearly sign your bookable workspaces for your desk booking system.

Enterprise Desk & Room Booking Systems

Thinking of updating how you use your workspace? We have over 15 year’s experience and can help guide you through your options.