22 Apr 2021

How Thomas International elevated their hot-desking system in times of COVID

In this interview, we sat down with Rebecca Maxted from the operation team to learn more about how Thomas International onboarded Joan Desk Booking app and the whole experience that led up to bringing in the solution. 

Rebecca is a part of the team responsible for keeping the office running, particularly at times like this, when it’s been very challenging to comply with health regulations.

Meet Thomas International

Thomas International focuses on leveraging technology, psychology, and data to unlock people’s complex profiles into an easy-to-understand format. It supports companies in identifying, attracting and retaining talent. 

The problem of 60 people editing a single spreadsheet

Thomas’ head office in Marlow usually holds from 50 to 60 employees, with a further site in London and Witney adding more capacity. After the initial lockdown, re-opening offices presented a unique challenge – not all of those 60 desks can be used at the same time. Thus, a system was needed for tracking attendance at the workplace and booking spots in advance. 

As with many other businesses, the first thought was to create a spreadsheet that everyone could access. 

“The only way we could have managed the limited capacity is through a spreadsheet or a shared Google Docs or some kind of horrendous form. But we would need to rely on everybody having access to it and completing it accurately. We’ve done that before, but it relies on people doing it well, and it just doesn’t always work.”

Part of the reason is that docs aren’t easily accessible on all devices and this can make it difficult for employees to book their slot. 

“We wanted to have something that people can do from their mobile phones, on the go – wake up in the morning, decide they’re going to come into the office and book their desk.”

Instead of introducing a completely new solution, stick with what you love

When asked “why Joan?”, the answer was straightforward. 

“I looked at various companies doing similar things. The reason that we decided to go with Joan is that we already used Joan as our meeting room bookings. So, people in the business were familiar with the term Joan, everyone knew it and we loved what we were getting from the meeting room service.”

Bringing in yet another 3rd party solution would place Thomas International on another learning curve and it was just a cost they weren’t prepared for. Since Joan was already used company-wide, onboarding Joan Desk Booking app was a no-brainer. 

But the simplicity of adding a new solution from Joan was not the only reason.

“We wanted the functionality of being able to upload our own floor plan. And as I mentioned, many of our desks can’t be used under current guidelines so it was great to be able to clearly mark which ones can or cannot get booked.”

It only took a single video to be completely understood and utilised company-wide

As mentioned above, Thomas International wasn’t keen on bringing yet another solution onboard. And Joan made it simple for the company to transfer from spreadsheets to an app in a clean and quick way. 

Instead of onboarding for months, attending webinars and workshops, Joan can be understood with the help of a short video. Thomas International produced an internal instructional video. 

“Onboarding went really smoothly. We’re still onboarding people now as they feel comfortable coming into the office. We have an internal process where we asked people to watch a short video on what they need to do, and what to expect in the office. Once they’ve watched that video, we then set them up on the app. I think most of them are using the magic link, which seems to be working well.”

Joan improved Thomas International’s hot-desking system 

Even before the times of COVID, Thomas International lived by the principle of hot-desking. Employees could sit wherever they preferred, without prior arrangements. Hot-desking environments have the flexibility needed for elevating innovation and cooperation, but they eliminate the standard workday structure. You never know where and next to whom you’re sitting and what it means for your workday. 

With Joan, you can keep the benefits of hot-desking and implement it in a safe and structured way. 

“Now employees come in, knowing their desk, and it helps people structure their day. It also helps structure their week – they know when they’re coming to see their colleagues, they can plan their meetings, and they can plan their days in advance. They are confident knowing on which days co-workers are going to be and it’s much better than before when they’d come into the office and find out that the person you need is working remotely that day.”

“Joan Desk Booking app is simple, user-friendly, and provides the best value. It just ticks all the boxes”

The ultimate goal for Thomas International is to have a safe and structured return to the office. With Joan Desk Booking app, staff were able to do it on their own terms, independently, and fast. 

“Maintaining a COVID secure workplace is of paramount importance to us, and we needed to give staff the confidence to work collaboratively and safely. With Joan Desk Booking app we know how many people are in our offices on which days. And from an operation side, I can be confident the office is ready for fostering cooperation in a safe way,” concludes Rebecca.

Since having this chat with Rebecca, we have worked on and released tons of new features for improved user experience, and easier health-tracking at the workplace. Additionally, two new products – health screening and visitor management are being released in the coming days. Interested in learning more about our product portfolio and Joan Desk Booking app? Get in contact with us and let’s discuss how we can support your workplace.