BQ explores the benefits of co-working and picks out its top 10 spots for start-ups and freelancers looking to share office space.
There’s a new trend in the business world which is changing the way entrepreneurs and start-ups across the globe go about their day-to-day business: co-working.
Co-working is effectively an alternative to traditional office space, allowing independent workers and entrepreneurs to share an open workspace instead of the traditional cubicle or makeshift set up in a coffee shop.
The idea of co-working has really started to take off in recent years, led by the rise in mobile technology, and is now more popular than ever before as freelancers and small business owners swap their pyjamas and home computers for shared office space.
And it’s no real surprise when you look at the perks associated with co-working. Not only can like-minded entrepreneurs bounce ideas off each other but it’s also extremely cost-effective, helps you network with new people and usually comes with free internet access and unlimited tea and coffee!
Sound interesting? Well not to worry. Being the forward-thinking region that the Midlands is, it was one of the first to capitalise on the co-working boom and there are more and more co-working hubs popping up across the region every year.
Here are our top 10 co-working hubs for creative entrepreneurs just like you:
Innovation Birmingham Campus
As one of the UK's most vibrant tech communities, the Innovation Birmingham Campus offers more than just outstanding office space.
With a dynamic atmosphere and well-connected location, the campus is perfectly equipped to fulfil the commercial needs of any tech or digital business, from entrepreneurs and start-ups, to SMEs and scale-ups.
The centre boasts spacious co-working areas and free access to informal meeting areas. Members also get to work closely with other like-minded entrepreneurs and benefit from free superfast internet and Wi-Fi from as little as £99 per month.
Its co-working spaces also include access to over 140 events per year (including summer BBQs, Christmas parties, informal networking and more formal business and tech sessions.
Since its launch in 2009, over 136 start-ups have successfully incubated from its co-working centres and with over £13.3m raised in start-up funding, the numbers speak for themselves.
The Innovation Birmingham campus is tech focussed and most of the companies here are digital businesses of some form or another.
Availability: Innovation Birmingham breaks it down as the following: One person (£99 per month + VAT); Two people (£149 per month + VAT) and three people (£199 per month + VAT)
Birmingham's first co-working space in the heart of Moseley Village is ideal for those who work as independents, or those who work from home part-time and seek to be part of a friendly and supportive community of co-workers.
Many of its members are “solopreneurs” or new business start-ups and tend to be from creative sectors such as architecture, marketing, publishing and film production.
Whether you simply want to exchange ideas, hire a room or rent an office space, Moseley Exchange probably has the right membership for you – at a fraction of the price of other hubs.
Availability: Prices range from sporadic use of its office space at £32 per month to 40 hours per month at £55 or unlimited use at £102 per month.
The Loft Workspace - Birmingham
The Loft Workspace is a co-working hot desk facility in South Birmingham, Balsall Heath. It is dedicated office space designed for members to co-work together in a creative environment.
The hub was funded by the Jericho Foundation, a social enterprise charity with a focus on empowering people back into employment.
This dedication to getting people into employment was what inspired the launch of the workspace.
The Loft provides a well laid out workspace, complete with fast wi-fi, printing and copying, kitchen facilities and much more.
With onsite café, meeting rooms and training space, it has all of the bare necessities.
Availability: At £90 per month for a full membership, The Loft is one of the cheapest places you’ll find co-working space in the region. Other packages vary from £40 for 40 hours use of its facilities per month, £30 for 16 hours and £20 for occasional use.
Alpha Works - Birmingham
Alpha Works is nestled high up in Birmingham’s iconic Alpha building, an historic and well-loved landmark that has undergone extensive refurbishment and now houses the best workspaces in the city.
Located a stone’s throw from Victoria Square, Grand Central, The Mailbox and Birmingham’s famous network of canals, the streets surrounding Alpha Works are packed full of pubs and eccentric cocktail joints, boutiques and world-famous shopping centres, museums and art galleries, Michelin-star restaurants and food markets, independent coffee shops and much more.
Alpha is also just a 5-minute walk from New Street Station transport hub and 10 minutes from Snow Hill Station. Moor Street and Five Ways are a bit further away but still within easy walking distance.
As an Alpha member you receive 24/7 access, superfast fibre optic broadband hard wired to your desk, WiFi, access to printers, private phone booths, breakout areas, kitchens and all the office essentials under one roof.
Your membership also includes one credit per month for use of its meeting rooms but it’s easy to purchase more via the Alpha Works Community Portal.
Plus, there’s the Alpha Café, invites to the monthly socials and rolling programme of events, as well as secure cycle storage, changing facilities and showers.
You also have an unlimited supply of free tea and coffee and have access to Alpha’s community team, who are always on hand to make introductions and help with whatever you need.
Availability: Co-working at Alpha has a fixed monthly fee of £300.
Minor Oak – Nottingham
MinorOak’s style of co-working is based on hot desks, spaces with varying levels of privacy and interaction, and a dynamic community that brings together long-term members and short term / intermittent day pass holders. It can be a friendly get-together and a retreat from distractions — both on the same day.
As well as desk space, MinorOak provides spaces for private phone and video calls and both collaborative and quiet work areas, as well as a meeting room for eight that’s free for members and day pass holders.
Members also receive use of A/V pods (private phone and video rooms), use of large monitors, mice, and other equipment, one hour of meeting room use (full day pass only), free coffee, tea, snacks and use of the kitchenette and fast Wi-Fi.
Availability: All memberships are month-to-month meaning there are no long-term contracts. A day pass is priced at £15 (up to 9 ½ hours) and a half day pass (4 hours) is £8.
Cobden Place – Nottingham
Cobden Place is a stunning old lace factory in Cobden Chambers, Nottingham, which has been independently renovated to house four floors of collaborative workspace, studio spaces, facilities and services for creatives, designers, developers and entrepreneurs.
Members have access to a full screen printing set up in the building which they can use for an extra fee as well as an onsite screen print technician who offers a printer service or can run one to one sessions. (The prices for these can vary from job to job).
Also, on Monday's, the ground floor occupants 'Think' run a business advice and support day for freelancers and start-ups.
Availability: £10 for a day pass, £65 per month for 3 days access a week, £100 per month for 5 days access a week, £175 per month for resident desks and access to the wet studio and design lab studio spaces.
Impact Hub – Birmingham
From Amsterdam to Johannesburg, Singapore to San Francisco, Impact Hub has evolved into a rapidly expanding, diverse global network of over 7,000+ members in 40+ locations.
Each community is a wealth of innovative programs, events, and cutting -edge content. Step into any one of its Impact Hubs worldwide and immerse yourself in the local experience of a global movement.
Part innovation lab, part business incubator, and part community centre, Impact Hub offers its members a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration, and collaboration opportunities to grow impact.
Its 6,000 sq ft hub in Digbeth is one of its newest and most high-tech spaces and includes access to 60 Impact hubs worldwide, desk space at Impact Hub Birmingham, pay-as-you-go printing services and discounted events and workshops.
Availability: Day pass (£15 +VAT), Mission Birmingham (£35 + VAT for two days per month), Co-maker (£125 + Vat for 10 days per month) or Maker (£200 + VAT for unlimited access).
Friar Gate Studios - Derby
Connect Derby’s exciting new co-working spaces at Friar Gate Studios provide independent workers with the environment, tools and support they need to connect, collaborate, exchange ideas and work at their innovative and productive best.
The Friar Gate Studios hub was launched in spring 2007 in response to the rapid growth of the creative sector in Derby and the surrounding areas – and is now home to some of city’s most exciting creative businesses.
Primarily aimed at creative start-ups and entrepreneurs, members receive free PR and marketing support, use of meeting rooms, desk space, access to a business development manager, free Wi-Fi and AV equipment.
Packages are flexible and will be able to meet your changing needs, whether you want a desk for a morning a week, or on a full-time basis.
Availability: Eight hours per week (£30 + VAT per month), 16 hours per week (£60 + VAT per month), 24 hours per week (£90 + VAT per month) and 40 hours per week (£150 + VAT per month).
Common Space – Stoke
Common Place is a new co-working space for creatives, freelancers, start-ups and micro businesses located in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent providing a professional working environment for independent workers.
For a monthly fee, members enjoy access to the space from 9am until 6pm Monday to Friday, access to high speed Wi-Fi, printing facilities, a bookable meeting room, tea and coffee, kitchen facilities and most importantly a network of new friends to share opportunities and develop exciting new ideas.
Availability: Businesses can join for only £90 per month or £40 for a week. Alternatively, if you’re looking for space for just one day, you can join Common Place for just £10.
Arch Creatives – Leamington Spa
Based in an old railway arch in Leamington Spa, Arch Creatives offers an ideal space for creative entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to find a temporary workspace.
These spacious multi-purpose workspaces have been created by refurbishing 13 Victorian railway arches. The result is a light and airy studio which can be adapted to form the perfect backdrop to your business. Each arch has received a high-quality refit, including lining and glass frontage. Located in Leamington’s Old Town south of the River Leam.
Members receive access to free high-speed broadband, unlimited tea and coffee, and are welcomed into a growing community of creative entrepreneurs. What makes Arch stand out is the fact that its members have no minimum commitment. You can cancel your membership at any time.
Availability: Weekly membership (£100 per week) and full-time membership (£200 per month)