Everybody knows that moment when you are in search for a beach lounger but everything is covered by towels, yet the people who placed them there are untraceable, often back at the hotel or in the town and will often not be needing the space for hours. The same problem arises in public libraries (if you attend the University of Innsbruck, you know first hand). People come there at opening time, reserve their space and then leave for an indefinite amount of time, just so that they are guaranteed to have a place to work when they need it at some later point in time.

I have seen multiple examples of a strategy that follows a simple principle: clear space that has not been occupied by a person (but by some stuff to mark it as occupied) for a certain amount of time. It seems to me that this strategy optimizes a number of desirable quantities:

  • total work/activity: more people are performing their work/activity at the space that is provided for it
  • efficient use of space: i.e. less space for the same result
  • average availability of space for an individual at any given point in time

As another plus, people do not have to worry about reserving space early in the day. Of course there is a certain amount of added administrative cost: somebody probably has to be in charge of clearing space that should not have been reserved but has been.

My question is: is there any research that investigates said quantities (or similar)? It seems to me that this paradigm optimizes efficiency, customer satisfaction and also safety (imagine hundreds of clients "fighting" for spaces at opening time).

  • $\begingroup$ Resource control required some investment incentive. Anything is possible, but will you be the insane person to implement such control? E.g. the clear space must "aware" the person is out of vicinity, so are you going to implement some RFID intelligent chair? $\endgroup$ – mootmoot Nov 8 '17 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ It depends on the application, but for the library scenario I can think of a simple "parking meter" method. When you leave your space (to go to the toilet, fetch a bite to eat) you set the time and then staff can tell how long a space has been reserved for too long and clear it if necessary. Simple and cheap. $\endgroup$ – Johannes Ebster Nov 9 '17 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ Not unless it is a lounge for rent kind of setup. For public facilities, enforcement is difficult. $\endgroup$ – mootmoot Nov 10 '17 at 11:39

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