February 21, 2022

Renting out desks is one of the  primary ways a coworking space makes money. Figuring out how to approach desk rentals however can be complex. You can offer ad hoc hourly or daily hot desking, weekly dedicated desks, monthly memberships, and more. 

How do you choose the right mix of dedicated desks and hot desks for your coworking space and how can you even leverage a single desk to act as both?

This is one of the biggest questions we get from people starting a coworking space.

Let’s take a deep dive into desk rentals in your coworking space. 

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What is a hot desk?

John’s works for a tech company that has a hybrid work model, allowing him to work from home and the office when he’d like to. He usually works from home but enjoys coworking as a way to network and meet other creative people in his community outside of the people he works with. He pops by the coworking space three to five times a month, especially on days when there are events, and books himself a hot desk for a few hours to get focused work done.

A hot desk is a desk or seating area that is shared communally amongst a group of users. Most hot desks share the following characteristics:

  • Can be rented on an hourly or daily basis
  • Can be booked instantaneously on-the-go through a coworking space booking platform
  • Personal resources and supplies cannot be left on the desk

Hot desks are often located in an open seating area. They’re ideal for one-off bookings that can be done on the fly.

Benefits of hot-desking in a coworking space

Hot-desking is popular amongst professionals who like to work from home or the office part-time. The biggest benefits to hot desking are:

  • Greater flexibility and a “work how you want” approach
  • Opportunity to drive increased utilization and revenue from a single desk
  • Great entry-point offering that allows a user to experience your space and potentially upgrade to other offerings or plans 

Drawbacks of hot desks

COVID-19 has left some coworking managers and operators  weary of hot-desking. Here are some of the biggest drawbacks to consider with hot desk offerings:

  • Harder to predict recurring monthly revenue because its more variable
  • More difficult to foresee and accommodate for foot traffic
  • Challenging to fill since COVID-19 due to health and safety concerns

Many people may not be comfortable using a shared desk or being close to others post-COVID. It’s important to keep this in mind when considering your mix of product offerings.

Benefits of Hot DesksDrawbacks of Hot Desks
Greater flexibilityHarder to predict recurring revenue
Increased utilization from a single deskDifficult to accommodate for drop-ins and foot traffic
Entry-point offering for new usersSafety concerns since COVID-19

What is a dedicated desk?

Hot desks and dedicated desks in coworking spaces

Tina runs a small, but successful ecommerce business. She comes into the coworking space every day and sits at the same desk. She leaves her computer monitor and wireless keyboard on her desk and has a locked storage cabinet where she keeps all her packing supplies, letterhead, and notes.

A dedicated desk is a desk that is rented out to one specific individual. Characteristics of a dedicated desk include:

  • Rented on a long-term basis (ie. weekly or monthly)
  • Cannot be booked on the fly for a single day
  • Personal resources and supplies can be left on the desk or in a locker

Benefits of dedicated desks in coworking spaces

Having dedicated desks in your coworking space can attract small business owners and entrepreneurs looking for a more long-term commitment. Here are a few benefits to dedicated desks:

  • Higher revenue per desk compared to hot desks
  • Can help build your coworking community by having regular tenants
  • Offers users additional ownership and security in the space
  • More reliable recurring revenue

Having dedicated desk users can be a wonderful first step to making your coworking space feel like a true community.

Drawbacks of offering dedicated desks

There are some drawbacks to consider with dedicated desk offerings including:

  • More upfront commitment from users can make them challenging to sell
  • Fewer opportunities for drop-ins and new faces
  • Requires additional security for items stored in house
  • Hard limit on the number of users you can accommodate
Benefits of Dedicated DesksDrawbacks of Dedicated Desks
Higher revenue per deskMore upfront commitment
Helps to build a coworking communityFewer opportunities for drop-ins
Offers ownership of the spaceRequires additional security of personal items
More reliable recurring revenueLimit on the number of users you can accommodate

What’s the difference between a dedicated desk and a private office?

Dedicated desks are often confused with private offices. However, the two are totally different product offerings.

Private offices include a locked door and an enclosed space. They are often rented on a monthly or yearly basis and involve a signed contract agreement with fixed terms. The office is treated as a leased space that the users then “owns”. 

Dedicated desks are typically not in an enclosed space with a locked door. They are rented on a weekly or monthly basis and do not often require a contract outside of a typical membership agreement.  

Dedicated desks vs hot desks in coworking spaces

Why should you offer hot desks and dedicated desks in your coworking space?

Hot desks and dedicated desks are both valuable products to offer at your coworking space. Here’s why having a mix of both is beneficial for your overall brand and business.

Attract more users

Everyone wants something different out of coworking.

A freelance copywriter might only need a laptop, while a 3D artist needs two monitors, a desktop computer, and a tablet. Offering both dedicated and hot desks ensures you attract a mix of users that keep your community dynamic and your users engaged.

Create a steady, ongoing revenue stream

Including both a fixed and variable pricing model allows you to optimize your growth efforts. Both hot desks and dedicated desks can be rented out on an ongoing monthly fee. That allows you to have a reliable monthly recurring revenue supplemented by other variable streams of revenue such as event rentals, drop-in visitors, and shorter-term memberships.

This diversification of product offerings allows you to mitigate your overall risk.

Foster a lively, bustling community

When you have a mix of dedicated and hot desks, your community benefits from the best of both worlds. Your dedicated desk users dictate and perpetuate the tone of the community, while your hot desk users inject a freshness that keeps a community from feeling stagnant.

The good news is, with a coworking management software, you can actually have one desk act as both a hot desk AND a dedicated desk. Here’s how:

Imagine you have a prospective new client who wants to come in and have a dedicated desk but only for three days a week. You can now offer them the opportunity to use this desk as theirs, say Monday-Wednesday, and then hot desk the desk on Thursdays and Friday by making it bookable by the hour or day through your coworking management software. 

This type of tool can help you switch your resource from non-bookable to bookable, leveraging a single desk to get the most out of it. This also provides even more flexibility for users who are interested in a dedicated desk but don’t want to commit to dedicating it 24/7.

How to offer hot desks and dedicated desks in a coworking space

How to figure out the right mix of dedicated desks and hot desks

Striking the balance between hot desk and dedicated desk offerings can be challenging. Here’s a few tips for how to determine the best product mix for you when opening your coworking space.

Start with your ideal target customer

Having an ideal target customer is an important part of building a lasting coworking space brand. What kind of space do you want to be? And who exactly do you want to attract?

Once you define the needs of your target customer, you can begin to build your product mix around those needs. Aiming for an older, more established clientele? Having more dedicated desks and private offices is going to be a must.

Want to attract hybrid and remote workers? Keep plenty of hot desks on hand that can be booked on the fly, no strings attached.

Think about the market

Chances are, there are other coworking spaces or office spaces available in your city. Think about what they are offering and identify if there are any gaps in the market.

If you see coffee shops full of young people on their laptops, but private offices are struggling to be filled, that could be a sign that there’s a greater need for hot desks than dedicated desks and private offices in your community.

Calculate how much revenue you want to drive from desk bookings

There is a certain number of desks you need to rent each month in order to be profitable. Figuring out that number can help guide the rest of your strategy.

Experiment with different product mixes

The great thing about planning out your space is that you don’t need to commit long term to specific product mix upfront. Make an educated guess as to the optimal ratio of hot desks to dedicated desks, measure the success of your initial hypothesis, and adjust accordingly.

If you realize it’s harder than you thought to sell dedicated desk memberships, convert a bank of dedicated desks to hot desks. If your users are clamoring to commit to a desk of their own, add a bit more storage and convert some hot desks over to dedicated.

At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the right mix of dedicated desks and hot desks for your coworking space.

Wondering how hot desks and dedicated desks can fit into a membership plan? Read our guide to membership plans to figure out the best type for you.