The A-Z Glossary of Coworking & Flexible Office Space

Office space no longer simply refers to traditional buildings managed by landlords. 

By merely adding the word “flexible” in front of office space, it’s anyone’s guess if this refers to virtual offices, serviced offices, or on-demand hot desking — to name just a few types of the alternative places we now work from.

The office of the future is not a single location; it is a network of spaces and services. This network includes spaces designed for performing specific tasks such as focused work, team brainstorming, client presentations, employee training, meetings, and more. 

The way we talk about our places of work and what their purpose is has led to an outpouring of new definitions, though the terms often differ from country to country, or region to region.

Based on our expertise at The Instant Group, what follows is a comprehensive glossary of terms that are used most frequently in relation to flexible and coworking office space. Let’s dive in to learn the terms that matter most.

Agile Working

Agile working is a style of work that values flexibility and adaptability, and is designed to be responsive to change. Agile methods are often in contrast to traditional “waterfall” approaches where work styles are more linear and fixed. Agility suggests an anytime, anyplace, anywhere attitude. Thus, most agile workforces give employees a great deal of autonomy in choosing when and where they work. 


Office amenities are additions to a workplace beyond the minimum requirements for employees to work. Properties that include a diverse array of amenities — from health and wellness offerings to catering options and outdoor space — are expected to generate higher demand from tenants versus their plain commodity counterparts. 

Community Manager

A community manager is responsible for the overall management and operation of a coworking space. This includes maintaining the physical space, managing membership and billing, and overseeing day-to-day operations. Community managers are typically the primary point of contact for members and ensure that their needs and concerns are addressed.


Coworking is the use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge. As a global movement that first gained traction in the early 2000s, coworking offers both cost savings and convenience using common infrastructure, appealing to individual freelancers and corporate teams alike. By encouraging greater flexibility, a spirit of community, boosted productivity, and lower costs, coworking encourages members to connect, collaborate, and socialize.  

There are several different product types or terms that fall beneath the category of coworking:

  • Exclusive desk – A personal desk within a coworking space, sometimes referred to as a coworking desk, that is rented out and reserved for one individual.
  • Open/Hot desk – Available on a first come, first service basis, hot desks are open-area workstations that have no permanent owner and cannot be formally reserved. 
  • Shared office space – A shared office space, which is used synonymously with coworking spaces, is an open workspace where people from multiple teams or companies can work together on a flexible basis.

Day Pass

A day pass is a type of pass that allows an individual to use the facilities and amenities of a coworking space for a single day. Day passes are often used by individuals who need a place to work for a short period of time, such as when they are traveling or between job assignments. They may also be used by individuals who want to try out a coworking space before committing to a membership.

Enterprise Coworking

Enterprise coworking solutions are a type of flexible workspace arrangement tailored to meet the needs of large companies. We accommodate enterprises often provide available desks, offices, or workstations for teams of 10-200, or more employees. In some cases, enterprises will require additional services specifically designed for their team based on the kind of work they are doing.  

Exclusive Desk

An exclusive or dedicated desk is a personal desk within a shared office space that is rented out and set aside for one individual. Unlike open/hot desks, which are first-come, first-serve, a dedicated desk guarantees that members will always have a workstation available to them where they can set up and even keep their belongings.

Flexible (or Flex) Office

A flexible office, also referred to as a flex space or flexible workspace, is an all-encompassing term for several types of workspaces including coworking spaces, hot desks, managed offices, serviced offices, and virtual offices. A flexible office is designed to accommodate changing business objectives and gives workers the freedom to work how, when, and where they want. While every flexible office may look a little different, many share the basic elements of open-plan layouts, quiet areas, shared utilities, and adaptable workstations, like standing desks, phone booths, or coffee bars.

Hot Desk or Open Desk

Hot desking is a workplace system where employees use available desks at different times on a first-come, first-served basis. Hot desks, or open-area workstations, have no permanent owner or occupier and cannot be formally reserved. The term is said to have been derived from “hot racking” – the practice of sailors with different shifts sharing the same bunk at different times. 

Hybrid Office

A hybrid office is a type of workplace that combines elements of both traditional office environments and flexible workspaces, such as coworking spaces. A hybrid office may include a mix of private offices, shared workspaces, and common areas. They are designed to be flexible and scalable, so that businesses can add or remove space as their needs change. Hybrid offices are a good option for businesses that want the benefits of a traditional office, such as dedicated space and a professional image, but also want the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of a flexible workspace.

Hybrid Working

Hybrid working is a type of work model where an employee splits their time between a physical workplace (such as an office or coworking space) and working from home. Implementing a hybrid work model gives employees the autonomy to choose to work wherever and however they are most productive. As a people-first work model, hybrid working is said to boost productivity and job satisfaction while addressing the major challenges of remote work, such as isolation and lack of community.   

Meeting Room Booking

Meeting room bookings occur at flexible workspaces and include meeting rooms or private offices that can be booked on demand for a set time period. In most cases, individuals that want to utilize a flex space’s meeting or conference room can do so without purchasing a full-time membership. Meeting rooms can usually be booked by the hour and are equipped with facilities such as whiteboards, flipcharts, technology integration tools, catering, and phone conferencing. 


A membership relates to any month-to-month access to a flexible workspace on an individual basis. This includes monthly multi-operator access subscriptions sold as well as single-operator monthly memberships. Memberships are structured by each individual flexible office operator and can include added costs for things like meeting room access, private office usage, and other service offerings.

Private Office

A private office is a dedicated workspace that is exclusive and privately owned. Private offices can be one office for one individual in a coworking space, or they can be for teams of 5, 10, 50 or more. Found in both traditional office environments and coworking spaces, private offices are separated from other workspaces by walls or partitions. They are usually removed from the main open-plan office or common areas so occupants can focus and work without distractions.

Space-as-a-Service (SPaaS)

Considered by many to be one of the most influential business models impacting commercial real estate today, space-as-a-service is space that is procured on demand. Also known as workspace-as-a-service, SPaaS refers to the combined offering of real estate and enhanced user experience (UX), providing a physical workspace and specific amenities to create an all-inclusive work experience. This model increases flexibility and economic security by allowing customers to rent out only the amount of space they need for shorter periods of time.

Traditional Office Space

A traditional office space (or leased office space) is rented directly from a landlord, normally on a per-square-foot-per-year basis for a fixed length of time. It may also be purchased outrightly, requiring the owner to build out and furnish the office, as well as take care of all utilities and capital expenditures. Ideal for privacy and focus, traditional office spaces are essentially a personal headquarters for a company. A typical floor plan may include a combination of private offices, an open space for cubicles or desks, and a meeting room. 

Virtual Office

A virtual office is a service that provides businesses with any combination of services, workspace, and/or technology without the capital expenses of owning or leasing a traditional office. The main driver for purchasing a VO is to acquire a marketable or prestigious business address. Many virtual offices are offered from a flexible office space location and include features such as live receptionist services, parcel handling, and more. They may also include dedicated office space and meeting rooms so that companies and individuals can meet with their clients when needed. 


A workstation refers to a desk and chair where work can be carried out within a shared office space. Operators will typically list the number of workstations available within their spaces to designated total capacity.


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