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10 top freelance friendly working spaces

Do you know any good places where I can go and work for an afternoon with my laptop?

Whether it’s spaces for coworking or just somewhere to plug in the laptop, this is one of the questions most often asked of us at KHQ.  Well, as it happens we do and we’ll be running a mini series of articles that give you a flavour of what you can expect at some of our favourite freelance friendly spaces.

This week, we’ve started with London, UK but we’ll be featuring other cities and towns based on your feedback soon.

Drum roll please….

Firstly, our favourites. We’ve chosen them because we’ve used them ourselves and often run our pop-up coworking events here.  It’s not an exhaustive list of every coworking space in London. Indeed, there are sometimes other better known dedicated spaces, but we tend to find that they cater for the tech start-up community and many of them require a more formal arrangement rather than casual use. Feel free to disagree with us – we may have got it wrong.

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.

1. Royal Festival Hall

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.

2. Mozilla, London

Ssshhh.. Don’t tell anyone ..

Mozilla opened up its Open Space just over a year ago and they were quickly overwhelmed with people who wanted to try out their free to use collaborative space.  Unfortunately, it seemed that not everyone understood the etiquette that goes with being invited into free common space and within months they introduced guidelines aimed at ensuring that the space was used alongside Mozillian principles of open collaboration.

You can’t just rock up individually, but if you are part of a meet up group that has booked the space, you are made very welcome and it’s a little like a family living room.  The wifi is super fast and there are loads of tables and power points to plug your laptop into. There’s an extensive kitchen area with space to make tea and coffee.

3. @ Work Hubs

New kids on the block @ Work Hubs are only 4 months in and they are already opening new spaces based on the success of their first coworking space near Euston Station. This space is a hit with the pop-up coworking crew as they offer pay-as-you-go packages that are very affordable and mean that you don’t have to commit to a monthly subscription. Owners Zach and Philip will cluck around you offering jelly babies.  Anything to make you feel like you’re at home. But not…if you see what I mean.  Its proximity to Euston Station makes it very convenient for independents who are travelling to and from the North.  They even offer a printing facility, which is something that we wish you’d see more of.  Perfect.

4. Hub Islington

We do love the Hubs.  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.

5. Near Desk

Now this is an exciting development in catering for a mobile and remote workforce.  Tom Ball, a serial entrepreneur has come up with an elegant solution to finding temporary desk space near to you, using a kind of smart card that allows you into any of their participating spaces.

Basically you just buy a card. Get one here.  And then check to see where the nearest space to you is. There you have it.  Easy as pie.

They run their own temporary space too near Kings Cross Station called Desk Lodge, which has plenty of space for incidental coworking too.  With lovely views!

6. The Busworks, Caledonian Road

You can’t miss The Busworks in this area just North of Kings Cross in London around the Caledonian Road. Reclaimed from the old Victorian coachworks, it still retains many of the building’s original features with more modern architecture.

The Busworks have offered light airy studio space for small creative businesses since the Seventies, but they are now opened their first venture into co-working with the Back Room. It’s brand new, although we’ve been road testing it for some months.  The owners have worked hard to make it feel like a home from home.  Each piece of furniture has been reclaimed from elsewhere, and restored.  So the overall effect is comfortable, inviting and unusual.

The Busworks launch their coworking space soon, so keep an eye out for prices, which are likely to include both subscription and pay as you go models.

The Pleasance Theatre and the lively George Shillibeers Pub are both within the site.

7. The Centre for Creative Collaboration

C4CC (as it is more frequently known) is a joint collaboration between some of the University of London’s art, design and drama colleges, and a coalition of creative entrepreneurs.  It’s full of start up creative businesses who are able to use the light and airy office space.

This unusual building close to Kings Cross has a bright airy atrium area with space for collaborative work. They don’t encourage individual coworking as they simply aren’t set up for that, but pre arranged groups of freelancers and creative huddles are often found there.

8. The British Library

The British Library is another landmark on the roving freelancers’ list.  If you want inspiration and hushed background noise, this is the place to go. There are dedicated areas to sit and work here, but they are quickly taken up and you’ll be lucky to find a space.  But you can perch in some of the other open spaces and take advantage of the free wifi.

9. Modern Jago

Microsoft took over this old building, the Rochelle School at Arnold Circus in Shoreditch last year a pop up space for creative technology projects.  They set aside coworking space and it has become a welcome spot in Shoreditch for creative and digital independents.  The space is a firm favourite, with plenty of both formal and informal space. Lots of thought has gone into how to bring people together, so there are soft, colourful furnishings and classroom style long tables. You just take your pick.

We nearly chose not to put it on the list, as the building is closing at the end of June 2013. But we’ve loved it so much that we wanted to encourage a last minute rush. You can always join one of the KindredHQ groups if you’d like some company.

10. O2 Workspace

O2 opened this experimental space – the O2 Workspace – beneath their Tottenham Court Road showroom.  It’s not large, but it’s unusual to find a space in this area of London that has dedicated space to plug in and work.  At launch, it was free to use including use of the meeting rooms, but these days you do need to book in. You can still use the hot desking areas and the small meeting room booths that hold up to 4 people.  You won’t get the hard sell, although there is a kind of genius bar at the back of the space where you can go and get your mobile sorted.

And good on them for thinking innovatively about how their customers actually work and getting stuck in.

The best-est app to get you to a nice working spot?  Worksnug.  It’s all you’ll ever need (apart from us!)

That’s our list.  What’s yours?

 

Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.

  • San Sharma

    Ah! Love the list – and thanks for the shoutout there at the end 🙂

  • Deirdre Woods

    Thanks for this list. I must say though O2 workspace used to be a brilliant space but you now have to pay for everything includiing the small booths where the hourly rate is £53!!

    • kindredhq

      Thanks Deirdre. That’s really useful to know. In fact, it’s a couple of months since we last went and that wasn’t the case then. We wouldn’t have included them otherwise. I think I’ll go back and make that clear in the article. Really appreciate you raising that.

    • When will these businesses realise that getting us in there is where they win? If every time it’s going to be charged for, hello a lot of lost trust in o2 coming from this quarter. A big shame.

  • The Busworks

    Thanks for the mention Alex. @thebusworks we are determined to build a great community of co-workers so look forward to seeing you all as and when suits you.

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  • JP

    This is really interesting, thank you. I am looking for a place I can work (not home…need separation and gets lonely!) while I work on my start up. All I really need is a hotdesk, wifi and coffee. Any recommendations on where I can find this for sub £150/month without restriction on number of hours/days? Thanks!

  • Thanks for the great post! Would also like to add Rentadesk – we have a friendly community for freelancers and micro businesses based in Bloomsbury near the British Museum http://www.rentadesk.co.uk

  • No Such Place in Covent Garden is purpose built for food and drinks brands. There’s a bar in the office, and it’s ran by an award winning cocktail bar.

    There’s co-working options there – You can get in touch info@nosuchplace.london

    http://nosuchplace68.com/

  • Cowork Hub

    There are so many great coworking spaces out there in London. We are one of the largest in London and based in West London. Due to our size we luckily have more facilities than others but what I love about coworking is that most places have their own character. http://www.coworkhub.co

  • The Workers’ Cafe

    The Workers’ Cafe in Hackney is a cheap option for people starting out in coworking and comes with free coffee all day! http://workersunite.co

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