Co-working or Hot desking? What’s best?

admin/ September 28, 2017/ Community

How and where we work is changing as the business environment becomes more widely distributed (both geographically and in time), and yet ever more connected through technology. This in turn, is enabling new ways of working for budding entrepreneurs, freelancers and those requiring a greater degree of flexibility in their work.

The change is less about the physical location and more about life-style, choosing when and how you work, where you can set your own work schedule and the hours that suit your business best. You can do this in your own home but working alone can be tough, with little outside stimulation, such as the lack of banter and networking over a communal cup of coffee.

For those for whom home or lone working doesn’t appeal, the two commonest alternatives involve co-working and hot desking, which are becoming increasingly mainstream working practices for small and large businesses.

What’s the difference?

Co-working is working model with a higher level of social interaction and collaboration between a loose collection of independent workers. This can create a strong community-based feel which is both motivational and inspirational, with the brainstorming of ideas flowing across a lively, open working space. Popular with freelancers and small businesses, co-working creates the buzz of the office, working with others who share in a similar view of their preferred life style but without any loss of professionalism.

Co-working is characterised by:

  • a growing co-working community
  • working in a positive, more life-style driven environment
  • having a consistent work space
  • working with like-minded people
  • exposure to a wide range of complementary member experiences

Hot desking as a working model has been around for decades, where workers share space and equipment or bring in their own computers and laptops to a non-designated space. Hot desks may be situated within an organisation or a business centre and tend to be used by people whose work requires a high level of mobility or have need of a more “heads-down” focus without interruption. The atmosphere is usually reserved, with less social interaction and little community feel. While the absence of a designated desk may weaken social cohesion, employers say hot-desking can reduce overheads by c30%.

Hot desking is characterised by:using any desk within an established office space

  • suiting those “on the go” with highly mobile working requirements
  • not tying you to a dedicated space or office
  • a quiet environment that can improve work focus
  • being about you rather than the community

Both co-working and hot desking provide immediate access to the open work environment, offering lower cost solutions compared to ‘conventional’ office space, with shorter contracts and less commitment. Both models suit workers with “nomadic” lifestyles while maintaining the perception of professionalism with clients and employers.

As work become more physically dispersed, it becomes more difficult for workers to engage with one another. Co-working and hot-desking offer professionals two different ways to work more effectively by providing spaces with greater flexibility to suit the working lifestyles of the individual participants.

Gerry Westwood for CambridgeSpace Blog. 28th September 2017.


Oliver Corrigan, Carwood Park.

Karen Koelewyn, Inspire. August 28, 2016

Dr J A Ouye, Knoll Workplace Report 2011

Keywords: Co-working, hot desking, work flexibility, work and lifestyle, work and community, open office  space environment, 

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