We’re not sure if you’ve heard or are aware of this, but there has been something of a rise in the number of coworking and flexible workspaces in London. Steelcase’s Alex Gifford has picked out seven of the best
1. Impact Hub King’s Cross
One of the older spaces, this is one that feels authentic and unique, even if the look and feel is seen elsewhere. It’s authentic because the space has evolved around its ethos of social change and has a particular culture and a particular type of person that would belong there. Not that it’s a clique – I felt quite comfortable there wearing ‘business casual’ and doing work that had little social impact…
2. Level 39, Canary Wharf
What I really like about this is not so much the space – although the view is amazing and the interiors by Gensler are great – but the idea behind it. The aim is to provide space for financial and technology start-ups and the like, and help them along by introducing them to mentors and investors. Apparently, this space has been quite successful, and it would be interesting to see if this idea could be transferred to other sectors.
3. The Office Group, Aldgate
I’ve followed these guys for quite a while and like the way they mix short-term lets, serviced office and coworking space. This one has a very public café/coffee shop merging with the lobby and the more private workspaces – which is so much nicer than having a fake ‘Costa’ coffee in an open plan office. The other nice thing about this location is that you can sit and make a few calls in the lobby of the White Chapel building opposite.
4. Central Working at the Zetter
Clerkenwell’s ever popular Zetter hotel had a great idea in letting Central Working operate their rather quiet restaurant as a coworking space during the day (I don’t know who’s idea it was – may have been Central Working’s). So, during the day it is a subscription based coworking lounge with fixed desks and meeting rooms downstairs and, at 6pm, the coworking space reverts to being the hotel’s public bar. The interior functions equally well for both and demonstrates a really clever way to get space to work that bit harder.
5. Kensington Pavilion
Formally known as Dryland, this space is an example of the fact that coworking spaces are not just for hipsters. The principal is pretty much the same as anywhere else with a sliding scale from lounge/hot desk membership to private offices, to short term lets for a group of people. But what is interesting here is that the design aesthetic is pretty conservative, quite smart and aimed at a different crowd from the disruptive start-ups normally associated with nomadic working. If you Google ‘coworking space’ under the ‘images’ tab, you tend to see one particular type of interior. Its nice to see some diversity.
Whilst this isn’t a coworking space, it is still very much on the flexible working spectrum. Breather is a sort of Airbnb for meeting spaces, something that is always hard to find, whether in a permanent office or on the road. But what is particularly clever about this space is that they have partnered with furniture maker, Deadgood, who use the space as a rather lovely Clerkenwell showroom. Obviously, this is by appointment only, due to the way the space works, but that tends to be the case for contract furniture showrooms anyway. Given the cost of space in this part of town, this is another great example of getting the most out of a space.
Another example of a space that has worked with the ethos and insights from a furniture manufacturer is Us&Co. Based in the City, it has a grown up look and feel, describing itself as professional but relaxed. It’s interesting to see that they have opted to use furniture designed for working rather than hospitality, which these days is the exception rather than the norm. And as these sorts of flexible spaces become the norm (WeWork being London’s largest private tenant), those of us creating things to go in offices need to think about what it is that these spaces really need…