Hot Desking & Renting a Virtual Office in London

Hot desking and virtual office in London example co-workspace with business women working on PCs and laptops at separate workstations image at

What is Hot Desking?

Hot desking is a relatively new form of office space allocation that maximizes the available space by allowing multiple users to use one workstation. Since workstations were only used during a fraction of the working day, hot desking emerged to allow employers to maximise the amount of space available.

Hot desking is preferred by organizations known for their flexible working cultures, and it is a cost-effective option for businesses in areas such as Central London where high commercial real estate prices are the norm. In business centres, hot desks can be rented for different periods, ranging from an hour to a month or longer.

Hot desking fosters a corporate culture of sharing and collaboration, making it easier to exchange ideas and brainstorm with staff from different departments and areas of expertise. Renting a hot desk in London for a day, week, month, or however long is required, encourages creativity and allows for access to top flight amenities such as professional meeting room hire and community networking events.

Daytime view across the River Thames at London City skyline with all its innumerable hot desking and virtual office in London options image at

Benefits of Renting Hot Desks & Workspace

Builds Creativity

Shared workspace and hot desk layouts helps foster a corporate culture of sharing and collaboration, and may encourage creativity by providing opportunities to work with staff from different departments and areas of expertise, making it easier to exchange views and to brainstorm. In business centres, hot desking can improve the chances of expanding professional networks, especially with their often regular professional networking events for clients.

Flexibility and Freedom

Hot desking can provide employees with increased flexibility and freedom, as they can work from different locations and choose the environment that suits them best. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses that have remote workers or employees who need to travel frequently.

In business centres, hot desks can be rented for 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month or longer.

Cost Effectiveness

Hot desking can be a cost-effective solution for businesses, as it enables them to reduce their office space requirements and associated costs. This can be particularly beneficial for startups and small businesses that have limited budgets.

Cost effectiveness becomes especially apparent in areas where high commercial real estate prices are the norm. In the UK, it is estimated that businesses that engage in this type of space allocation save up to £34 million every year.

Access to Resources

Your hot desk or shared workspace business address can provide access to a wide range of top tier resources, such as meeting rooms, conference facilities, a receptionist and IT and administrative support. This can be particularly useful for businesses that operate remotely or have a small team, as it enables them to access complete business centre resources that they may not have in-house at their private HQ.

Boosted Productivity

Hot desking can lead to increased productivity, as it enables employees to work in an environment that is best suited to their needs. This can help to reduce distractions and increase focus, leading to more efficient working practices.

Man and woman business colleagues have an impromptu meeting to discuss a project at the man's desk at a hot desking and virtual office in London image at

Inclusions and Exclusions of Hot Desks and Workspace

Hot desks are available in business centres or as part of corporate office space and include:

  • Access to desk space, although desks are not allocated to specific employees. In cases where employees are not used to this space configuration, hot desking may increase the time it takes to get set up and ready to start the working day. Moreover, hot desks do not generally allow the personalisation of workspace.
  • The use of shared facilities, which may include other flexible workstation arrangements such as standing desks or communal work tables, meeting rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, break areas, and showers if available.
  • Telecom infrastructure (mainly applicable to business centres and co-working spaces), including high-speed broadband, landlines, and WiFi.
  • Basic furniture, including desks, chairs, and sometimes archive storage.
  • The utility bill will usually be included as part of your fixed monthly bill.

The following are usually excluded from hot desking packages:

  • Some business centres will charge for the use of meeting and conferencing rooms or business lounges. Rates may be billed hourly, daily, or monthly.
  • The same applies to additional support services (like reception and admin) and to the use of printers and photocopiers.
  • Parking space may or may not be included, although some business centres try to encourage alternative means of transportation and provide bicycle storage and end of trip facilities like showers and lockers.

Unoccupied hot desks scattered with their tenants' various individual belongings at a business centre for hot desking and virtual office in London image at

Typical Hot Desk Occupier Profile

Hot desking was initially implemented by large companies that needed to have staff available round-the-clock but that were also looking make a more efficient use of their office space. Later, this practice was adopted by companies of all sizes, from the British Airports Authority (which reported savings of £400,000 / year) to small start-ups.

A Virgin study also revealed that hot desking tends to work best with a specific demographic group: workers under 35 years old with a university degree and employed in professions that are project or activity-based.

Hot desking arrangements are also popular with remote or part-time workers who only need short-term use of desk space, solopreneurs, freelancers (who account for 54 per cent of all users), and contractors in the technology, fintech, and creative industries. These sectors are best suited to hot desking given that they tend to implement flexible working practices such as telework or bring-your-own-device policies.

Three businesswomen casually have a discussion holding coffee mugs by a window while a man sits at his hot desk working on a PC at a hot desking and virtual office in London image at

Hot Desk Space in London

Along with global entrepreneurial hubs like San Francisco, New York, or Singapore, London is considered one of the best locations in terms of the hot desking options available in the city. A study of modern office space arrangements carried out by Steelcase revealed that approximately 17 per cent of all London workers use or have used hot desks or a similar flexible solution, such as co-working spaces. Since hot desks are usually provided at business centres, the main locations are those where there is a large percentage of office-based jobs, including:

  • The City / Canary Wharf
  • Midtown (Holborn and Bloomsbury)
  • Westminster / West End
  • Tech City and areas near Old Street (Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, and Farringdon)
  • South London, mainly in Lambeth and Southwark

Typical Cost for London Workspace and Hotdesking

Business centres usually charge a fixed fee per desk space and allow workers to pay on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly basis, depending on their schedule and space needs. Other business centres or co-workspace providers charge annual membership fees, and it is also possible to find fixed-fee hot desk packages that allow workers to use the space for a specific number of hours every week.

Typical costs are as follows:

Professionals who are considering giving hot desking a try must also bear in mind that paying a deposit is not necessary. However, some business centres and workspace providers may require that blocks of hours be prepaid.

Black and white daytime view of the entrance to the foyer of a busy hot desking and virtual office in London image at

What are Virtual Offices?

A virtual office is a practical business solution whose popularity has grown thanks to their ability to meet the demands of the changing world of work. London virtual office services allow businesses to enjoy a solid corporate identity with a London business address at minimal cost, and suits those who favour agile working environments and flexible business practices.

London virtual offices can provide businesses with a prestigious business address and a range of virtual office services, without the need for a physical office space, and all its associated costs or maintenance, cleaning, utilities and furnishing.

Virtual office providers typically offer services such as official mail forwarding, call answering, and meeting room rental, as well as access to administrative and IT support. These services enable businesses to establish a presence in London and benefit from the associated brand recognition, without the high costs and commitment of a traditional office lease.

Virtual offices aren’t for just digital businesses, they are particularly popular among startups, entrepreneurs, and businesses that operate mostly remote, as they offer flexibility and convenience. They can also be a cost-effective way for businesses to establish a professional image with a virtual business address in a competitive market like London.

Remote colleagues confer onsite in an upper level meeting room at their hot desking and virtual office in London image at

Benefits of Virtual Offices

More Flexibility and Productivity

Package deals for virtual office London services are available on a weekly, hourly, monthly, or pay-as-you-go basis. A virtual office address facilitates a more effective use of time with their wide range of resources to service remote clilents. And they can help boost productivity, as they eliminate distractions and the need to handle calls or clerical tasks with their inclusion of virtual receptionists and IT support.

Fast, Inexpensive Set-up and Minimal Financial Risk

A London virtual office address can be set up and ready in a matter of hours, providing a new business address quickly and easily. They also come with extremely affordable monthly fees when compared to physically renting and occupying a London business address.

No initial capital expenditure is required for a virtual office in London. Business owners do not need to invest in staff, furniture, office equipment, cleaning or security personnel. Having a virtual address for your business avoids financial risk with low commitments, and agreements come with easy in-out terms as standard.

Professional Image

A virtual office business address in a prestigious location like London can help businesses establish a professional image, regardless of their size or budget. It can also help to build trust with clients and partners, as they will have a physical address in London to associate with the business.

Reception and administrative support staff confer at receptionist's desk at a hot desking and virtual office in London image at

Inclusions and Exclusions of Virtual Office Space

The following are usually included in a virtual office address package:

  • The right to use a business centre’s address as your official business address. This allows a business owner to keep their personal and professional domiciles separate, and their private home address does not need to appear on public records (i.e. Companies House). There are usually several registered office address options to choose from, and no utility bills or commuting are required.
  • A dedicated phone line manned by the centre’s reception staff.
  • Reception / Clerical staff to handle calls, message-taking, handling and mail forwarding for business correspondence, parcel pick-up and drop-off, booking meeting and conferencing facilities, support with business travel arrangements, etc. Large operators with a global presence may also offer access to their premises in other cities and / or countries.
  • Access to important documents and messages via e-mail, phone, or cloud storage.

Some services may not be included in the monthly bill:

  • The number of official mail items forwarded may vary, and some operators apply a per-item fee. Postage charges are usually charged separately.
  • Access to meeting rooms and day offices may be charged separately depending on the virtual office package chosen.
  • The use of office equipment (printers, photocopiers, etc.) is typically charged on a pay-as-you-go basis, but it is still more cost-efficient than having to purchase office equipment.

Typical Occupier of a Virtual Office in London

Virtual offices are a good choice for entrepreneurs, owners of small businesses, remote workers and independent contractors who only need to access to physical facilities (e.g. meeting rooms) occasionally. This service is also used by companies that need to test the local market before deciding on more costly investments or permanent office solutions.

Virtual offices are common with businesses in the technology, digital, and creative sectors, and they are especially popular with freelance web designers, developers, copywriters, digital marketers, graphic artists, etc., as well as with small e-commerce firms that choose to entrust their customer service operations to staff of virtual offices.

A relaxed digital nomad in swimwear reclines happily on a poolside sun lounger while conducting business remotely with his virtual office in London image at

Virtual Office Locations

Virtual office services are offered by business centre operators in locations all over London but particularly in:

  • The City, where there are more than 150 centres.
  • The West End, with approximately the same amount.
  • Southbank and Docklands, with more than 100 centres offering a London virtual office address.
  • Shoreditch / Old Street / Hoxton, which mainly cater to tech and media companies.

Typical Costs of a Virtual Office in London

  • Central London addresses carry a premium, especially those in the City. However, basic virtual office address-only packages can be found for £40 / month, whereas some packages may go up to £150 depending on the address and the number of services included.
  • In the West End (W1, WC2), basic packages usually start at £60 / month and go up to £130 for full-service virtual office packages.
  • In Shoreditch / Old Street / Hoxton, costs are lower and average £40-£60 / month, although they can be as low as £8 / month if only basic virtual office services are required.
  • South London locations are on par with those in Shoreditch and fringe locations and range between £60 and £90 /month.
  • In the Docklands, packages average £45 for pay-as-you-go services to £70-£150 for more comprehensive packages depending on call and mail volume.

Whenever additional services are not included, these must be factored in, although rates vary greatly from operator to operator.

The average cost of call handling / call forwarding goes from 30p to over £1 / call, but some operators charge a fixed fee of £50 / month or the equivalent annual rate for telephone answering services.

Business mail forwarding costs usually entail postage fees and fixed charges (averaging £1 for standard mail and higher prices for parcels of special delivery items). Copying, printing, and scanning are typically charged per page, and costs go from 50p to £1. Meeting room hire rates start at £25 / hour depending on the room’s specifications.

Some virtual office operators offer discounted rates on annual packages, although these must usually be paid in advance, so the initial costs may be higher. Otherwise, rolling month-to-month contracts are the norm.

Night view across the River Thames at London City skyline with all its innumerable hot desking and virtual office in London options image at

Looking for Your Next Office Space in London?

Need a virtual office or physical workspace in Central and Greater London? We offer an extensive selection of serviced offices and workspace to choose from. Alternatively, feel free to contact us at 020 3965 9617 to speak with one of our friendly team of experts. Our office space specialists will help match you and your business with the perfect office in London to meet your individual needs.

You can also find a number of our recent articles about office space and the future of work below, including:

The Top 10 Workplace Trends for the Future Office (2023)
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13 Desk Decor Ideas for Eye-Catching Office Spaces
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