Breaking Down Hotel Seating vs. Bench Seating

Hotel seating and bench seating are two of the most common office designs for work spaces. But what is the difference? And why are these styles so popular? Both terms refer to the seating style in a given work space, but hotel seating is more of a system, whereas benching refers to the actual furniture used. Read on to learn more:


Hotel Seating: Hotel seating, also known as “hoteling” is a term first coined in the 90s. It refers to office seating in which employees do not have a designated work space. Instead, staffers reserve a seat on days they plan to be in the office. Work spaces are typically designed to encourage collaboration; technology is integrated into work spaces for easy connectivity, screen sharing, etc.

Hotel style seating works best when there is some type of concierge- either in person or an online reservation system- where employees can manage their reserved work space for the day or week.

One complication is connectivity compatibility. With the increased mobility of workers today, numerous connections are needed to accommodate all devices. Even for small companies, employees are working with different devices, laptops, tablets, etc. and hotel spaces should have all necessary connections.

In recent years, the term “hoteling” has become less popular because of the lack of identity that it insinuates. Many feel that the term “hotel” is utilitarian and in contrast to the inclusive ‘live, work, play’ environment that many employers are trying to promote.


Bench Seating: Perhaps a better term for bench seating would be bench surface or bench desks. Bench seating has replaced the cubical in many modern offices and can be used as another non-assigned seating option.

The “bench” in bench seating does not refer to the seat, but to the surface tabletop. Rather than an individual desk or cube, the table surface of a work space is a long “bench” or a long table. The table may be split up into individual work spaces by ancillary furniture like surface shelving, drawers or even soft seating in some cases. Alternatively, some office designs do not split up the individual work spaces at all and each worker sits along the “bench” table.

The advantages of this option is that it is often significantly less expensive than the traditional cubical set-up. Additionally, bench seating furniture tends to have shorter lead time.


While it seems that both trends are here to stay, neither have reached the executive suit in a major way.

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
Free E-Book
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit

Ask a Project Manager

Questions? We're here for you.