A year back, we wrote up a short guide to London’s Top 10 freelance friendly places to work. Well, time has moved on and so has the market for coworking in the capital. It’s extraordinary how many new places you can choose to work from, and there’s bound to be something to suit you whatever your style.
Our top 10 list has changed to reflect this movement and our experience running our coworking popups across the capital. We’re including new spaces that have impressed us with their friendly, human approach. These spaces have been successful in creating communities rather than just desks to work at. They understand what freelancers and entrepreneurs need to get off the ground and sustain them and they know that the pay back may not be immediate.
It’s not an exhaustive list of every coworking space in London. Indeed, there are sometimes other better-known spaces. You’ll also notice that there aren’t any coffee chains in here. That’s because, on the whole, we are looking at environments where it is OK to hang out as a group of co-workers for a period of time, so that you get the benefit of connecting, sharing experience and support alongside productivity.
In no particular order, here is our Top 10 list of coworking spots in London.
1. @ Workhubs
A perennial favourite of our freelance community, @ Workhubs has proved itself to be a haven for us soloists. Philip Dodson, who runs @ Workhubs understood the power of the community from day one and you’ll hear him evangelizing the new world of work to everyone who walks through the doors of their small, but very central work hub near London’s Euston Station. He’s created flexible offers to choose from. You can pay by the hour or choose a monthly membership at very competitive prices. There are events on many evenings and breakfasts that offer plenty of opportunity for networking.
Oh. And jelly beans are free.
New kid on the block, Headspace is a beautifully restored building in Hatton Garden. Jonathan Rosenblatt knows property and has kitted this space out with everything that an independent could need. It’s light, airy and there’s plenty of space, whilst retaining many of the old features of the building. The space is in the local creative and digital heartland of London and will appeal to creative types. They too offer monthly, pay as you go packages and office space.
3. Third Door
Shazia Mustafa is a force of nature and Third Door Workhub and Nursery is the first of her ventures in this space. She believes passionately in building the ecosystem to support independents, and that’s why you’ll find a nursery attached at their Wandsworth based workhub, so that parents can bring their children to ‘work’.
The workhub itself is cosy and friendly, thoughtfully designed to include open and private space for coworkers. It’s not in central London, but watch Shazia as she grows into other areas, because this is sure to be a growing business.
4. 90 Main Yard
We love Main Yard! Tori Bravery and her partner took this building in Hackney Wick and restored it almost completely themselves. It’s an extraordinary, large loft warehouse with amazing views of the Olympic Stadium in this growing area of London. Tori wants to build a community that takes an interest in sustainability and creativity and she’s working hard to bring in like minds to this inspiring space.
Home to London’s tech start ups, this space is for the geeks and the ecosystem that supports it. It’s on 7 floors and you can use the café area, run by Central Working for free, or choose to become a permanent member in Techhub’s permanent area. It’s a useful place to hang out if you are interested in tech and the start up community, and there are plenty of events to choose from.
Near Desk goes from strength to strength as the ‘smartcard passport’ for coworkers across the country. Desk Lodge is their current London base and provides both office space and coworking in their centrally located Kings Cross location. They have the friendliest reception ever, and a genuine interest in the businesses that start and grow there. Plus if you’re a member, you can use your card to work anywhere that Near Desk have a location. What’s not to like?
The newest of all our featured spaces, Winkley Studios is the brainchild of Leo who freelanced herself and ran her first coworking space for other freelancers for 3 years before opening this lovely space. She is also keen to nurture a supportive and friendly community and is partnering up with local artisanal businesses to link everyone up. Situated in an area that has so far escaped the gentrification of other parts of Hackney, you also get the benefit of beautiful old London. There’s a nice balcony to sit on in warmer months which looks out over the rooftops and courtyards of Hackney too.
The Mother of all free coworking spaces, the RFH never set out to be a home for wandering independents but when there was very little else on offer, she provided temporary space for individual and collective groups of freelancers to meet. There’s a great space on the 4th floor for members (membership costs relatively little and gives you access to this space whenever you want it). They ask you to keep laptop working to one half of the space so that some is given over to collaboration.
On the downside, it can get super busy, so you’ll need to be there early if you want to grab a seat and some table space. They’ve sorted out the wifi now and as far as we can see, it works very well.
The famous Tuttle Club meets here on Fridays and that’s a great way to meet with a diverse group of creative and other independents.
The Corporation of London’s innovation hub is situated right in the middle of old Smithfield Markets – the meat markets. Innovation Warehouse provides startup businesses with incubation workspace, hot desks, meeting/event rooms, access to financing and professional business advice and guidance delivered by mentors.
The core group of mentors provide a small micro-lending fund effectively acting as ‘bank manager’ as well as business advisor to mentee companies. They believe that this knowledge and experience creates a well-founded relationship between entrepreneurs and mentors.
Recently rebranded as the Impact Hubs, these are the stalwarts of the coworking scene. If RFH is the Mother of London coworking, then Hub Islington is the Daddy. Lovingly created by the early, founder members, it is a wonderful, inviting space in the street just behind Angel Islington. It’s home to lots of exciting start up social enterprises and there’s a definite ‘sustainability’ theme. Whilst they like their members to commit to monthly subscriptions, it’s a really involving and familial atmosphere. And that’s down to their hosts, particularly Anna Levy, the mother hen.
Described as ‘a startup laboratory for changemakers to take ideas from action to impact’, Hub Westminster was launched in October 2011 on Pall Mall in London, Hub Westminster provides access to investment, space, programming and a global peer network hosted to foster collaborative practices and learning opportunities. Watch out for their great events schedule, many of which are open to the public and will give you a chance to look around.