We just love co-working spaces. The smell of coffee, the buzz of brainpower, the faint aura of cool that surrounds everyone in there.
Even if you went freelance to escape staff kitchen chat and office politics, there are still times when it’s just nice to work alongside other human beings, particularly after all those months in lockdown isolation.
Co-working spaces are a great option in the winter as the days get colder and the nights draw in – save on your energy bills at home by gathering in cosy communities. Amenities like free wifi, tea and coffee and bookable meeting rooms are usually standard, and some of the swankier ones offer on-site gyms, bars and yoga classes. Using a co-working space can offer a bit more structure to your day which is great if you would otherwise procrastinate if left to your own devices. They’re useful for collaborative work and for making connections with other freelancers, which can in turn help you grow your network and win more clients.
But how do you find the right co-working space for you? Each one has a different vibe, location and services on offer, and attracts a different crowd of small biz professionals. In this guide, we rundown some of our fave spaces in old London town for freelancers looking for a new home.
Aiming to build communities of creative businesses, Makerversity offers desk space, studio space and access to workshops and maker stations including both cutting-edge digital and traditional tools. Makerversity creatives tend to have expertise in design, materials, manufacturing and production, which makes it an ideal space if your business matches or complements these areas. We also think it’s really cool that they offer learning programmes for young people where you can get involved in inspiring the next generation. There’s a busy event schedule including workshops, demos, discussions, and it’s all handily located in the basement of the magnificent Somerset House.
Nearest Tube: Temple
Plexal’s focus is on innovation and getting big brains together to collaborate to solve our biggest challenges. If this sounds like your business, then Plexal is the place for you! It’s a community of 800 startups, scaleups, large corporations, charities and social enterprises; brilliant if you’re looking to connect up your freelance work with bigger organisations. There’s as much tea and coffee as you can drink, and Friday Treats and Thirsty Thursdays. A good option for cyclists too, as there’s hot showers and secure indoor cycle parking. It’s located at Here East on London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, so handy if you’re on the east side of the city.
Nearest Tube: Stratford (with free shuttle bus)
This co-working space in the heart of ultra-cool Camden prides itself on having a real family feel. There’s lots of flexible options in their membership packages, from PAYG hot-desking charged by the hour right up to your own private office. They offer pet-friendly spaces if you’ve got a pup that needs to come along with you. There’s also weekly yoga classes and beer and pizza nights, because life is all about balance. You’re also within easy reach of the pubs, street eats and vintage stores of Camden Lock for after-work socialising.
Nearest Tube: Camden Town
Tobacco Dock Workspaces
We love the historic industrial charm of this co-working space in a Grade I listed warehouse. Everything here – from the super-fast wifi to the ergonomic chairs – is top spec, and it’s a good choice if you want to host clients in a venue to impress. Members can access the space 24/7, and there are free lockers to store your gear in. After a hard days’ freelancing, you can pop up to the stunning views of the Skylight rooftop bar or head down to the speakeasy vibes of Dock St Bar in the vaults.
Nearest Tube: Shadwell
The Clubhouse Mayfair
The atmosphere at The Clubhouse is definitely more refined elegance than co-working cool. It’s a hub created by business leaders for business leaders, so if networking and building your brand through connections with the great and good is what you’re after, The Clubhouse is the right place. Its spaces offer design-led luxury on top of all the usual amenities like wifi and Nespresso coffee, and the staff are extra-attentive. There are sister sites at St James and Holborn Circus as well.
Nearest Tube: Bond Street
Industrial-chic The Ministry is a dog-friendly workspace pitching for the business of freelancing creatives with an impressive roster of added extras including a gym, bar, café, terrace, cinema, sound studio and events space. It’s run by the folks behind Ministry of Sound, so, yes, it’s about as achingly cool as you’d expect. The former Victorian printworks are flooded with natural light (which isn’t always a given in the co-working world!). The onsite cafe serves homemade healthy food and freshly ground coffee. There’s also a special (and incredibly affordable) post-5pm membership for all you night owls.
Nearest Tube: Borough
De Beauvoir Block
As much a creative community as it is a co-working space, De Beauvoir Block is sandwiched between elegant Islington and lively Dalston, and it somehow manages to marry those two vibes perfectly. Lots of houseplants and soft furnishings give the space a real home-from-home feel, so it’s ideal if you’re someone who wants the comfort of WFH with the added benefit of a bit of a social life and amenities like printing, wifi and meeting rooms. Another huge selling point is the private outdoor courtyard accessible to all tenants and members, ideal for soaking up the sunshine and fresh air.
Nearest Tube: Haggerston
Runway East has four sites across the capital for intrepid entrepreneurs and tech gurus looking for good-value all-inclusive office or desk-space packages: Finsbury Park, Borough Market, London Bridge and Soho. We’re going to be honest, unlimited printing and the promise of Cake Wednesdays have us sold on Runway East. The brand-new London Bridge venue – launching this month – even has a secret garden. Networking and community are high on the agenda here, so it’s a great option if you’re a freelancer looking to make some meaningful new connections. Pups welcome, too!
Nearest Tube: various
Blooming Founders HQ
Offering chic, light-filled desk space that has been designed for women – but open to everyone – Blooming Founders HQ is a small but perfectly formed co-working space in trendy Shoreditch. Founder Lu Li has built the space to try to explore the question: “What would the startup ecosystem look like if it hadn’t been invented by geeky guys in Silicon Valley?” Its memberships range from the flexibility of a day pass up to unlimited access, fixed desk or private office options. There are plenty of opportunities for support, mentoring and networking if you’re looking to scale up your business or expand your skillset.
Nearest Tube: Old Street
Not just one workspace but a whole host of them. We Work has over 50 co-working sites across the capital, and their database allows you to search them all and filter by location, amenities, type of workspace and even move-in date! Each listing is also accompanied by genuine reviews so you can see what other people thought of the space before you commit. The sites are also really handy if you are only going to be in the capital for a day or so and need a space to work or to book a meeting venue.
Before you head off into a co-working space, it’s important to make sure you have up-to-date business insurance. If someone is injured or their property damaged as a result of your actions in a co-working space, Dinghy’s public liability insurance for freelancers is there to make sure that you will both be protected legally and financially. Similarly, Dinghy is one of the few insurance providers whose business equipment insurance covers items lost, damaged or stolen while in a co-working space (provided they weren’t left unattended). Freelancers can get a quote in less than 30 seconds on our website.
This is not a sponsored article and neither Dinghy nor our staff has received any kind of promotional gifts or payments for the websites or services mentioned in this article.