As modern work culture continues to evolve post-pandemic, two office concepts that have grown significantly in recent years are hot desking and co-working. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually represent unique approaches to workspace dynamics.

In this article, we’ll explore the nuances between both co-working and hot desking, reviewing both the benefits and challenges of each working style, so you can decide which option is best suited to you or your individual or business needs.

The difference between co-working vs hot desking

Hot desking: The agile office shuffle

Hot desking is like the jazz improv of office setups – it’s all about flexibility and adaptability. In a hot desking arrangement within the same company, the traditional notion of assigned desks goes out the window. Instead, employees choose their workspace from an available pool each day. The goal is to optimise office real estate by ensuring that every desk is put to good use.

One of the key advantages of hot desking is its efficient use of office space for businesses. No more deserted desks during periods of annual leave – every spot is fair game. However, this flexibility comes with its challenges. Employees might find it tricky to establish a sense of ownership over their workspace, potentially leading to disruptions in their productivity groove. Plus, the lack of a fixed location could throw a wrench into the development of a cohesive team culture. But more on challenges later.

Co-working: Community at the core

Now, enter the coworking phenomenon—a broader concept that goes beyond the confines of a single organisation. Co-working spaces are like professional melting pots where individuals from various companies, freelancers, and entrepreneurs come together to work in a shared setting. It’s not just about sharing desks; co-working is rooted in community.

The secret sauce of co-working lies in its diversity. Professionals from different backgrounds coexist in the same space, fostering collaboration and sharing ideas. Co-working spaces often host events and networking opportunities, creating an ecosystem that thrives on innovation and knowledge sharing.

The community-driven aspect of coworking is a standout feature. It’s not just about your immediate team; it’s about being part of a larger network where you can tap into a wealth of resources and expertise.

In the wake of the work-from-home revolution, it’s also increasingly common to find employees from large organisations setting up shop in co-working spaces. This shift may stem from the fact that their company no longer has a permanent workspace, but the home office setup doesn’t quite work for all of their employees.

Or, as we’ve seen at our vibrant Finsbury Park co-working space, many businesses are also catching on to the idea that broadening their geographic horizons can tap into a richer talent pool. Consequently, even major enterprises are investing in co-working spaces for employees who reside too far from the central office for a daily commute.

The pros and cons of hot desking and co-working

What are the main benefits of hot desking?

Optimises Office Space

Hot desking ensures that every desk is in play, making the most of internal office real estate.

Freedom and Freshness

Creating a hot desking environment offers employees the freedom to pick a new workspace daily, injecting a fresh change of scenery and preventing monotony.

Supports Flexible Working

By creating an internal hot desking setup, businesses can still retain a physical office presence whilst offering flexible working-from-home opportunities to employees.

What are the main challenges of hot desking?

Ownership Challenges

The fluid nature of hot desking may lead to a lack of ownership over workspace, potentially impacting individual productivity.

Neurodiversity Concerns

Hot desking isn’t suitable for everyone, as some individuals prefer a set space to personalise and feel comfortable—a potential oversight in accommodating neurodiversity.

A Barrier To Travel

During peak periods, employees may be deterred from coming to the office if they fear not securing a desirable seat.

Collaboration Hurdles

Internal team collaboration can become challenging if team members are scattered throughout the office.

What are the main benefits of co-working?

Collaborative Haven

Co-working offers a professional melting pot that encourages collaboration among individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Enhanced Networking

Networking opportunities are woven into the co-working DNA, with events, workshops, and sessions fostering connections beyond immediate work contexts.

Shared Amenities

Access to all-inclusive amenities such as hot drinks and high-speed wifi, create a seamless working environment.

Cost-Effective

Co-working is especially beneficial for freelancers, entrepreneurs, or small businesses, since it offers significantly reduced overhead costs compared to traditional office spaces.

What are the main challenges of co-working?

Uncertain Neighbours

With co-working there are no guarantees that you’ll get a spot next to those you enjoy working with, introducing an element of unpredictability.

Disruptive Elements

Phone conversations from those working around you can be disruptive, even with mindful members, impacting the otherwise shared and quiet workspace. At Oxford House, we encourage cooperation and consideration between co-working members to help avoid such disturbances.

Additional Charges

Meeting rooms and sometimes phone booths may come with additional charges, potentially adding to the overall cost to use a co-working space.

Privacy Concerns

The lack of privacy could be an issue for some, particularly for those dealing with sensitive information.

Setup Hassles

Co-working is often not an ideal scenario for those who require multiple screens, as setting up and bringing in equipment becomes a daily routine.

Distractions Abound

Similar to any office environment, diverse timelines and projects may lead to distractions, tempting individuals into unplanned conversations.

Find a workspace that works for you

Ultimately there are major benefits and some challenges for both co-working and hot desking. The key is to weigh up how these factors will impact your own needs before you decide which option is best for you or your business.

For an uplifting workspace that’s been designed with collaboration in mind, find out more about our popular co-working space in Finsbury Park and book a tour with our helpful team today.

For information on Oxford House office spaces, please contact hello@ohoffices.com.