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Melbourne is a magnet that attracts creative individuals from across the region. If other Australian cities seem empty of freelancers, it’s because most of them have moved to Melbourne. The growing freelancing culture has encouraged the development of several world-class coworking spaces, which offer a wide range of options in terms of style and price. While most of the city’s numerous cafes allow you to laptop-work for free, there’s no substitute for the interaction offered at the main three coworking spaces.
By Joel Dullroy - Friday, 15 July 2011

The Melbourne coworking community is very tight; the managers of all the spaces meet up at least once a month for lunch to discuss ways of promoting coworking and improving their services. “We’re so diverse in what we offer, even if we were right next to each other we wouldn’t be competition,” Nathan from Hive Studio said. Some members even utilize several spaces at once, visiting on different days to broaden their networking opportunities.

While there are a lot of freelancers, there aren’t so many entrepreneurs with start-up ideas. Australia’s booming economy, high wages, and high cost of living encourages people to play it safe. That’s one area the coworking spaces can hopefully help to change. Deskmag recently visited Melbourne's main coworking spaces: 


After three years in a narrow three-story office townhouse, Inspire9 is about to move into a massive renovated factory, which may become the center of Melbourne’s coworking scene. With lofty ceilings, wooden floors, huge open plan design, dangling lights and a rough redbrick exterior, the new Inspire9 location is ideal for creative work. There are some excellent coworking design features, too; for a bit of privacy, coworkers can duck inside one of two cube-shaped pods, which are made of translucent material and can be moved around the room. The whole design is modular and customizable, so it can be adapted to host events. As well as a bookshelf, there’s a full kitchen, plus bike racks and showers for cyclists.

Inspire9 is the work of Nathan and Richie, two programmers who set up the space three years ago. They attract mostly web developers, but also other freelancers from the creative industries. A permanent desk here costs $440 a month, or $250 a month for a flexible desk two days a week. After six months, members can also get 24-hour access to the space. Once a month the space hosts a night owns meet-up, running from 9pm to 2am.

The new Inspire9 is located in a former knitting mill, right next to the Richmond train station, one stop away from the CBD and around the corner from the MCG.

Hub Melbourne

Part of the global chain, Hub Melbourne is a buzzing interactive space right in the heart of the CBD. Housed on the third floor of a heritage building next to Southern Cross rail station, it offers brilliant natural light, inspiring surroundings, and a full calendar of events.

Like all Hubs, this one has an energetic host team, Brad and Jan, who keep the location alive with over twenty meet-ups and events each month. The membership base - which includes about 260 individuals from 200 organizations, universities, corporations, city governments and small start-ups – is encouraged to actively network. In fact, it’s this diverse network that makes Hub Melbourne such a thriving workspace.

Between 20 and 50 members drop in to use a desk each day. The Hub operates a time-based user model; you can buy passes for 10, 25, 50 or 100 hours per month. A ten-hour pass costs $60, while an unlimited pass with 24-7 access costs $600 a month.

Brad will soon expand the Hub to a large loft next door, which will more than double the floor space. There’s also a fancy cigar lounge-style boardroom available for hire.

Hive Studio

This creative office space in Fitzroy offers a mixture of small private suites and open-plan coworking desks. This kind of arrangement might become more common in coworking spaces, as more operators look to broaden the options for both freelancers and small companies.

Hive Studio strikes a good balance between segregation and interaction. The suites are sectioned off by glass walls, and the coworking desks are given a degree of privacy by semi-transparent dividers. All users share a common kitchen and ping-pong table, allowing for mingling and cross-pollination.

Space founder Tony, a programmer, opened Hive Studio in September 2007 to provide himself with a workspace. He takes a hands-off approach, so it’s open for the members to organize meet-ups and interactive events. Most seem content to just get on with their work, though.

Hive Studio attracts a lot of people in the creative industries, many of whom ride their bikes to work. It has proven so popular that Tony has taken on a second nearby location to offer more suites to small companies. There are eighteen desks and thirteen privates suites, and Tony says he rarely has an empty space available, although he does keep a few desks open for drop-ins.

Suites (which can hold between two and five workers) cost between $700 and $1150 a month, and a coworking desk is $350 a month. A flexible desk for two days a week costs $175 a month.

Private studios

Melbourne has a large number of private art studios which also offer shared workspace. Some cater for visual artists, while others are a mixture of both hands-on creators and laptop workers. Most leave flyers around shops and bars to advertise when space becomes available.

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Find more coworking spaces in Melbourne on Deskwanted.

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