Thursday 23rd July 2015

As more and more companies turn to implementing agile workspaces, there has become a growing misunderstanding of the terminology of hot desking and hoteling. Not only do different regions of the world use different terms, but the space and philosophy of flexible work continue to change.

In the 80s employees worked in the office, in the 90s they worked at home and ever since, there has been a move towards a balance between the two. When employees work from home, from the office, and places in between, new needs arise to efficiently accommodate these employees. Some companies have implemented hoteling, some hot desking (referred to in the UK as shared desks). Then other companies implemented flex space, realizing mobile workers often come into the office to collaborate and meet, not to sit at a desk.

But what do all of these terms mean?

As a veteran in this space, Condeco has encountered many ways to describe how desks can be organized within a company.

While we support the definitions that Google (in the US) provides:

  • Hot Desking (or Shared Desks): the practice in an office of allocating desks to workers only when they are required or on a rotating system, rather than giving each worker their own desk
  • Hoteling: the short-term provision of office space to a temporary worker, we also realize that the terms are often used interchangeably and different places favor different terminology.

Around the world

In the UK you will hardly ever hear the term hoteling, it is either hot-desking, desk booking or shared desks. Hot-desks are open/available desks that employees can walk up to claim, or can be made bookable through a scheduling tool.

In fact when we did a keyword search for hoteling on google trends, it scored 81 out of 100 in the US and 0 in the UK. Hot-desking, on the other hand, scored 100 in the UK and only 7 in the US.

Another way to distinguish the two terms is to think of hoteling as reservation-based unassigned seating as opposed to hot-desking which is reservation-less unassigned seating (source: Wikipedia).

In a nutshell, there’s many different ways to define what is becoming a very popular way to work. At Condeco we make hot-desking or hoteling more manageable by making it bookable, whether you book as you walk up to a desk, or reserve it in advance, we believe your workspace is better managed when you can plan for this flexibility.


Hoteling and hot desking aren’t the only keywords out there these days. Have you heard of reverse hoteling?

  • Reverse-hoteling is when you have a permanent desk that you release to the rest of the company when you’re not there.
  • Flex space, on the other hand, is a very general term. People use it to describe areas in an office that can be used for multiple purposes: meetings, individual workspaces, brainstorming sessions, one-on-ones, etc. Some companies use moving walls or desks to make this possible.

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