The difference between a dedicated desk and a hot desk

Posted on: 14th November 2022

Reading time:  11 mins

The difference between a dedicated desk and a hot deskThe difference between a dedicated desk and a hot desk

The pace with which workspaces and working patterns have changed in recent years. This has meant that whole new concepts are springing up, which can lead to misunderstandings.

One of the most confusing areas has been the use of desks in office spaces. Namely, the differences between hot desks and dedicated desks. This article covers what hot desking is and how it differs from a desk booking arrangement.

Dedicated desk vs hot desk

One way to explain the difference between a dedicated desk and hot desking is maybe by comparing it to public transport, most fittingly trains.

When you go on a train journey, there are two ways you can take a seat. You can book in advance for the journey and have your seat guaranteed, or you can turn up at the station, get on the next train and find any available seat.

Both are perfectly viable ways to travel. The first gives peace of mind that you'll be able to get a seat on a busy train, and also choose the exact type of seat you want.

However, turning up on the day grants more flexibility. You can decide there and then that you want to travel, and simply get to where you want to be.

This analogy almost mirrors the difference between dedicated and hot desking, although there are some differences, which we'll go into below.

What is a hot desk?

The basic definition of hot desking is where you turn up at an office space full of desks, you pick one that’s available and that’s where you’ll work that day.

In the modern workplace, a "desk" might be nothing of the sort. For example, it could be a sofa, a cubicle, a breakfast bar, or a pod. Regardless, the name still applies.

A company might use hot desking for its employees. Say there are 20 employees and 20 desks, and people just fill them as and when needed.

However, there's also hot desking in places like coworking spaces. This is where people from different companies share the room with freelancers, entrepreneurs, and so on.

It should be mentioned that not all hot desking arrangements work on a first-come, first-served basis. There's a middle-ground solution where you still have to book your place. You can usually do this on the door, or a few hours in advance. This is often referred to as ‘desk hoteling’.

Other arrangements involve booking a slot in the coworking establishment in advance to prevent disappointment. However, you cannot choose a desk in advance.

Whether desk hoteling counts as hot desking is up for debate, but in its purest sense, it's not the same thing.

Pros of hot desking

Compared with the traditional fixed desk allocation system in a company (where each person has their own desk), hot desking benefits the company. That’s because it doesn't need to have unoccupied desks during sickness and annual leave.

Thanks to this, a smaller space can be agreed upon. This leaves room for other hybrid arrangements, such as a workspace membership pass, or access to a hybrid office.

For the employees, it gives them a change of scene, and the ability to sit next to people they are working with on projects.

Cons of hot desking

The downside is that some people need or like their own desk. They may prefer this, thanks to the availability to store the likes of paperwork and activity-based equipment they need.

This can even extend to accessibility, as some desks may be better suited for those with mobility needs, or they may be better suited in ways such as being changeable to standing desks. Or, they simply prefer to personalize their working spaces, with family photos and similar, personal touches.

One potential downside is that a guest might turn up and all the spaces have been taken. That can be solved by booking a slot in the workspace (rather than the desk itself).

Also, some guests can abuse the system by leaving things on their desks and going off for prolonged periods. Naturally, this can be frustrating for those looking for a space to work.

In the coworking context, hot desks are the norm. Guests are usually happy to have the flexibility and cost savings associated with the arrangement.

What is a dedicated desk?

dedicated desk is where the actual workstation is booked in advance. It cannot be used by anyone else while it's booked, even when it is not being used.

A dedicated desk can be for as long as needed but generally, this extends to a few days or weeks.

Pros of dedicated desks

The main advantage of this arrangement is that the desk is yours for the duration of the booking. Nobody can take it while you're out for lunch and you can even personalize it to a minor degree.

Coworking spaces will usually provide lockers for you to store things overnight, too. It also costs less than a private office but still has some of the advantages.

Cons of dedicated desks

On the downside, this kind of workspace will always cost more than an equivalent time used with hot desk membership in a shared office.

To make it worth its cost, you need to be sure you're going to use it. That’s because it's probably not worth booking a slot for two days if you're only going to use it for just three hours.

Difference between a dedicated desk and a hot desk in a coworking space

The choices between the two concepts can be summarised in four ways:

- Cost
- Flexibility
- Personal space
- Collaboration

We delve into these aspects more, below:


Dedicated Desk

Hot Desk


Depends on company budgets. Look at what your usage of the coworking space would be to select the most cost-effective option.

More cost-effective on a per-hour basis (coworking usually allows a certain number of days per month).


Inflexible space reserved for the length of your contract.

Set up and go. Hot desking allows for lots of flexibility.

Personal Space

Usually located in its own corner of a shared office space. Tends to be more quiet and private. You can usually choose a specific desk dependent on your needs.

Within the hot desking area of a shared office. Not great for privacy, but wonderful for networking.


Space for collaboration in common areas of the office.

A great option for opportunities to collaborate with other hot desk users.

How do I know what option is best for me?

The choice between the two options comes down to a balance between the costs and the benefits of each type. There are also factors like how much you value privacy and flexibility to consider.

If your business is dynamic and you might not know what tomorrow will bring, a hot desking system in a coworking space might be best for you. A great example of these workspaces is startup companies.

If your business is settled and works on set schedules, and you need to just get down to hard work with the minimum of distraction, a dedicated desk is usually best.

You'll still have the same amenities, such as WiFi, shared lounges, and meeting rooms, but desk booking will ensure you've got the desk space you want, when you need it. Some users consider hot desking as like having a private office, but with the benefits of a more open workspace.

Ultimately, there's no right or wrong type of arrangement, it's all down to how you work. Explore our permanent desks and coworking options to see how you can work your way with Regus.


Regus offers office spaces all across America. You can find both hot desks and dedicated desks in centers across the country, ranging from New York to Colorado and beyond. Wherever you need to find your new office space, make sure you work your way with Regus.

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