Co-working, Hot Desking & Virtual Offices: What’s the difference?

I’ll be honest, several years ago I didn’t know what co-working, hot desking or virtual offices were. It turns out I wasn’t alone. Since we opened, we still receive plenty of enquiries asking to understand these services and who they are for.
Co-working, hot desking and virtual offices are all aspects which can make up a workspace like The Racquets Court. They are used by businesses of any size from sole-traders to global corporations.



According to Lexico “[co-working] is the use of an office or other work environments by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge.”

Co-working spaces are thought to have stemmed from 90s Hackerspaces. They were created for the ‘creatives’ but nowadays, they are a sought-after solution for companies of all sizes. Imagine being able to hire the talent you want but without having to relocate your HQ across the country? Larger companies are making full use of this great opportunity by hiring a few desks in the towns and cities across the UK so they can set up new offices, hire local talent to work remotely or to set up project teams closer to their clients.


The self-employed, freelancers and micro-companies also benefit from co-working spaces. They can have all the benefits of an office without the worry of isolation and huge overheads.

There are many perks to a co-working space but one of our favourites is the fantastic networking opportunities available. You never know who might move in on the desk across the way or who might be in the kitchen. They are typically 24/7 too so you’re not confined by the standard 9-5.

Co-working spaces generally require a commitment in the form of a monthly fee. For that you’ll get a dedicated desk, you can store your equipment and all your bills (should be) included.

Hot Desking

Hot desking is the practice of working as and when you need. Workspaces which offer hot desking usually mean you can hire a desk on the days when you need one. This is a great short-term solution for:

  • People who work from home and want to get out of the home office for a day or two
  • People who travel for work and need a base to work in-between appointments
  • Small task forces who need to solve a specific problem away from the usual office
  • Teams who work remotely and like to have somewhere to meet

Hot desking is a great solution to the coffee shop take-over as it provides workers with dedicated, purpose-built workspaces (read this great blog here by Hubble “There are so many better places to work than a coffee shop”).

One of the joys of hot desking is the freedom to come and go. You can try out lots of spaces with next to no commitment before you find one that works. Once in your perfect space, you can usually upgrade to a co-working membership and make it your new home from home (or office from office…).

I used coffee shops as ‘day offices’ in between meetings while we were developing TRC. While it was great to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city centre, I ended up frustrated with the Wifi, spending way too much on coffee and left generally feeling I’d been unproductive…and it was weird asking strangers to watch my stuff while I nipped to the loo!


Virtual Offices

Virtual offices are another solution offered by workspaces but for people who maybe don’t have the want or need for a physical space. These are often used by those who want to be associated with a specific place or building.

A city centre virtual office, for example, gives your business a city centre presence. This is great if you wish to have a presence in a new city, or perhaps you just don’t want your business address to be your home address.

Often you can get different packages which include various business services such as mail handling, phone answering and message taking services and meeting rooms to name a few.

Virtual offices are used by many different businesses such as:

  • an established business who want a presence in a different city
  • a sole-trader who doesn’t want their mobile to be their business number
  • a freelancer who is happy to work from wherever but wants a stable business presence for their clients.

If you are looking at virtual offices, look for one which also allows you the option to hot desk or book meeting rooms so you can impress your clients and suppliers.

In Conclusion

Think of workspaces like hotels. There are many different types, from huge budget ones to small, luxurious boutique ones. It’s easy to see them all as offering the same basic thing (ie a bed for the night) yet not understand why they all charge different prices. Don’t overlook the value and quality of what you get. Make sure you do your research and find one which reflects your business, the work you do and will help you attract clients.

There are many different reasons why a company or an individual may want to use a workspace. Whether they want to test out working in a new area, have recently relocated, or hiring talent from further afield, The Racquets Court is here to help. Get in touch with our Community Manager to discuss what solution works best for you.