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London is one of the leading coworking cities in Europe, and yet the number of coworking spaces is actually quite low considering the size of the city. Low office vacancy rates and high rents - particularly in the vast inner city areas - slowed the growth of coworking for a long time. The global financial crisis put the movement back on track, and now there are even several new coworking chains in the planning stages. The British capital is also ahead of other cities in terms of the diversity of coworking spaces. Deskmag takes a tour of London’s coworking spaces.

 

London Coworking Profile

Number of Coworking spaces: 16

Number of Desks: 530

Average Desk Prices per month:

Permanent desk, 24-hour access: £328

Flexible desk, office hours: £236

Desk for one day: £21

Desk in traditional offices: £959

 

 

Hackney (incl. Shoreditch, Hoxton, Dalston):

The Trampery

Here’s an example of a small company opening its office space to outside freelancers. In 2009 the software company Trampoline Systems invited other creative people to work in their well-designed bureau. They called the collaborative space The Trampery, and created a truly homely atmosphere. Currently there is room for about 20 people. Each small grouping of desks represents a business, which can add extra tables as it grows.

The Trampery has all the necessary elements for a top coworking space. Desks in a large community room, meeting rooms, a secluded area for relaxing, a kitchen, and all the necessary office infrastructure. It is located in one of the most peaceful spots right in the middle of lively Shoreditch. Next door there’s a fitness studio to work off stress.

Tech Hub

Start-ups and the tech community are the main focus of this coworking space, which opened in July 2010 on City Road, directly in front of Old Street tube station. The project is the brainchild of Mike Butcher, editor of TechCrunch Europe, and Elizabeth Varley, organizer of the London Twestival, both of whom are fully networked in the start-up scene in London.

The space has been designed according to functionality. In the front are flexible desks that can be cleared away for regular events. You can use one of these flexible desks for an annual membership fee of £375, or just over a pound a day. In the rear of the space are permanent desks, which cost £275 (excl. VAT) a month.

The Hoxton Mix

This coworking space in a new-style office building near Old Street Station has existed for only a few months. Like the building, the rooms are very sleek and modern. There is even a shower and air condition for hot working days.

The desk price is £275 and includes all services, from high-speed internet to meeting room usage. Only fixed-line telephone calls are billed separately. The Hoxton Mix offers monthly memberships on a minimum three month lease. The work areas are open around the clock, even on holidays. Up to 34 coworkers can call The Hoxton Mix their workplace.

Bootstrap Company

Bootstrap Company has a long history – at 34 years old, it is the same age as the average coworker. The complex opened in 1977 during another recession, and developed a collaborative working model, which it strengthened with the help of government agencies and the local community. Much has changed since then, but its strong local roots in the district of Dalston, the cooperation model, and the focus on social and creative small businesses has remained throughout.

Desks here can be decorated with personal style. The atmosphere is relaxed but productive. The mutual support offered here help the individual entrepreneur to cushion many risks. Most members here work as permanent coworkers. There is a two week departure notice required, but it is seldom used. The desks are usually all booked up.

The Cube

This coworking space, located in East London near the Shoreditch High Street station, was created in response to the financial crisis and opened in September 2009. The Cube has a minimalist ambience, with much of the furniture and design crafted by hand, and an emphasis on mutually supporting the individual coworker. To this end, there are regular events and training seminars to build up the individuals. Oversized rooms have been avoided in the design.

A monthly ticket for unlimited access costs only £195, and there are cheaper deals for those who work more flexibly. A sister (WECREATE) is about to open in New York in spring. Find out more about The Cube on our earlier Deskmag article.

Durham Yard

This small coworking space was recently opened in Durham Yard by two freelancers, a theatre producer and a web developer, who were fed up with working from their kitchen table. It is located in a series of old Victorian shops and workshop units just off Hackney Road where lots of creatives have taken up residence.

The two offices have eleven desks, and what it lacks in size it makes up for in strong community spirit between the freelancers who work there. It is calm and quiet while at the same time being sociable, friendly and offering networking opportunities.

The cost of a desk is £50 a week, which gets you a permanent desk, internet, secure storage, printer, kitchen facilities, secure bike storage and a post box. Importantly there’s also 24-hour access to the space. There’s no separate meeting room but a sofa in the office for down time, and great cafes nearby for meeting clients.

 

Islington:

The Hub Islington

This is the world’s first Hub, the launchpad of this network of locally community owned spaces which opened six years ago here in a small side street near the Angel Station. Up the stairs on the top floor is one of the most beautiful coworking spaces in London.

The Hubbie Angels are a very loyal group of coworkers, and there are hardly ever any free desks here. Despite the high workload, it’s never really loud. The atmosphere in the old commercial building is more like that of a permanent office space, but everything is a bit larger. The spacious work area has large windows which offer a fantastic view of the cucumber tower at Liverpool Street.

The workspace can sometimes be a bit chaotic, but nevertheless it is one of the most charming coworking spaces in London.

The Hub King's Cross

In another quiet sidestreet, this one next to Kings’s Cross Station, is another coworking space in The Hub network. Unlike its sister location at Angel, this one is a lot more lively.

There are many more people passing through, and most of them use the space on a flexible basis. The Hub King's Cross is accessed directly from the street, and is connected to a large café which is often just as full as the coworking space.

The interior design utilizes glass walls to separate off small areas while remaining transparent. Although it already makes a good visual impression, extra renovations are planned to overhaul the large upper working area, small glass private boxes, meeting rooms and the cafe.

Wandsworth (incl. Battersea, Putney):

Co-work Putney

London’s newest coworking space - it opened in December 2010 - has room for 45 people. Within the space are all the facilities office workers need – deskspace, meeting rooms, recreation areas. A highlight are the storage pedastels integrated into each desk. These come with a digital lock and have plenty of space for the storage of personal belongings.

Co-work Putney was designed to meet the needs of local home workers as well as those previously based in more traditional office environments. Members come from industries as diverse as finance, recruitment, aviation, IT, marketing, and music management.

Co-work is currently constructing another office on Borough High Street, close to London Bridge, which will open in May 2011.

Third Door, Putney

Childcare centres in Britain are carefully regulated and licensed by the state. Third Door is one such licensed childcare centre, with space for up to 24 children. By combining this with work areas for parents, Third Door has created something unique in London. Mothers and fathers can work undisturbed on the upper floor, while a nanny watches over their children in a large play area on the lower floor.

There is space for up to 25 coworkers to conduct their business. In addition to a kitchen, there is the normal office infrastructure, a large meeting room, and two real London telephone boxes for private calls (only on mobile phones – the real phones have been removed).

Third Door offers Putney's mothers and fathers a perfect place to get their work done while coming into contact with other freelance working parents.

Le Bureau

Le Bureau is located in south London, and was created four years ago near the Battersea Park. The rooms are warmly decorated, with fresh flowers to keep every coworker happy. The professional coworkers of this space are usually a bit older than in other coworking spaces, although it is open to all.

For the weekly price of £99, all office services are included in the membership, as well as the use of the five meeting rooms. For more on Le Bureau read our earlier Deskmag article.

 

Westminster (inc. Soho, Westend):

Rentadesk

Rentadesk started six years ago with its first office in Soho. They remain unrivalled in their prime location. One office is located on Newburgh Street, a second sits on Carnaby Street, and a third is coming soon. In total, Rentadesk has space for up to 90 people.

The company offers a full-service office, excluding a fax machine, which most workers today can do without. Coffee, tea and snacks come for free. Apart from the phone and a mailbox, most equipment is included under fair use terms, including the copiers. A permanent desk costs £250 per month (excl. VAT), which is quite reasonably for this area. A free trial day is available for first-timers.

Hub Culture Pavilion

This is a spin-off of the HubCulture Network, founded in 2002, and has a permanent presence on Carnaby Street since 2009. The rooms are elegantly designed and offer plenty of room to work. However, membership is by invitation only.

The concept is directed at elites, like the Soho House chain, and is more about networking than coworking. They also offer a private island, beach clubs and other activities, all of which enable collaboration and worth development. It is organized through their digital network, online tools, and a virtual global currency, which is called VEN.

 

Camden (inc. Bloomsbury)

Central Working

Central Working will open its doors in April 2011, but they already have plans for more locations. They are building one of London’s biggest coworking facilities with space for events and up to 100 coworkers near Center Point at Tottenham Court Road Station. Like Starbucks, they want to be a network of spaces at sites where people gather - on the high street, in train stations, in airports.

Apart from that, their concept follows the standard coworking concept by creating a place to meet, work, eat and be inspired. They will also pay attention to supporting coworkers by offering consulting and IT support. Consulting is where the Coworking Central founders come from -  their roots lie in the marketing and consulting industry. They also already have experience in setting up a flexible work, eat and meeting space with an airport lounge at JFK. Memberships will start at £30 per month.

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