Co-working: find your people
Updated 2nd August 2016
It's hard to remember a world without co-working spaces. How did we ever live without them?! But, believe it or not, the first modern co-working space opened as recently as 2005 in San Francisco, with London's first, The Hub (now part of the global Impact Hub network), following soon after.
For start-ups, small businesses and freelancers, co-working is a revelation, offering flexible, affordable and inspiring workspace, along with a ready-made community for support and collaboration. It has undoubtedly played a major role in developing the thriving start-up sector in London and across the UK, while changing the way we look at work forever.
There are now at least 7,800 co-working spaces across the world  - twice the number there were just two years go. London alone has over 150 different options , catering to almost any type of business, budget, and way of working.
So, if you're looking for some inspiration for your first, or next, co-working home, then here's our picks of London's best.
- Best for events: Google Campus
Located right on Silicon Roundabout, Campus offers both a co-working space in the basement and rented space for tech start-ups on another two floors. The basement is totally free to use – you just need to sign up as a member – and you'll also have access to the impressive events programme, with at least three per day, ranging from conferences, demo days and workshops, to meditation classes and networking sessions.
If working alongside hundreds of other entrepreneurs isn't your cup of tea, then you might consider these more low-key spaces. Situated in East London – Cook's Yard in Stepney and Winkley Studios in Bethnal Green – they both house just 16 desks each, offering a homely and peaceful environment. They're also dog-friendly, so you can bring your furry friend with you!
- Community focus: Huckletree
All co-working spaces boast about the strength of their community, but Huckletree makes an extra special effort to build and nurture a diverse group of entrepreneurs, start-ups, investors and freelancers, from all walks of life. With two locations – Shoreditch and Clerkenwell – Huckletree gets to know all potential members before they join, to find out where they will fit into the community and who they might like to meet. As a result, their reviews are top-notch, with members praising the family-feel, positive atmosphere and supportive staff.
- Best for beer lovers: WeWork
One of the largest and most established providers, with 11 London locations and loads more around the globe, WeWork is a co-working sensation. But what do we like most about it? The free beer of course! That's right, free beer on tap for all residents, to make those Friday afternoon meetings that little bit more interesting. Of course, it's got lots more going for it too, including super-stylish office spaces, great locations and a thriving entrepreneurial community. And they're dog friendly!
- Best for London nomads: Workspace
If working from just one area of London is just too limiting for you, Workspace has the answer. With 16 co-working business clubs spread all over the Capital, its 'Everyday, Everywhere' membership option allows you to use any one of its spaces, any day of the week, with access to networking, collaboration, events, not to mention discounted coffee! So wherever you happen to find yourself, you always have somewhere to call home.
- Trotting the globe: Impact Hub
And if London is simply too small for you, you might want to consider Impact Hub, with its 81 locations across the globe. London alone boasts four hubs, and with locations ranging from Manila to Bogota and beyond, you can truly attain digital nomad status. Membership to Impact Hub gives you automatic access to any of their spaces around the world, so consider your horizons broadened!
- Design-conscious: Second Home
There are some seriously stylish co-working options around, but our top pick for the aesthetically-conscious has to be Second Home, located just off Brick Lane in East London. Designed by renowned Spanish architects, Selgas Cano, creators of the 2015 Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion, it is home to over 1,000 plants and trees, with the aim of supporting wellbeing, creativity and productivity. Not only does it look super funky, but it's unique curved layout is meant to "spark serendipity" along with "creative collisions and chance encounters".
- Best for parents:Bloomsbury Beginnings
For those juggling the freelance or start-up life with looking after little ones, Bloomsbury Beginnings has just the thing. With a co-working space and crèche in the same building, you can get on with your professional endeavours, safe in the knowledge that your bundles of joy are just a few metres away in the on-site crèche. Desks and crèche space are available in three hour slots and you can also take advantage of various events and courses that take place here.
- Best for introductions: Innovation Warehouse
More than just a shared space, Smithfield-based Innovation Warehouse doubles up as an accelerator, offering access to mentors, investors and workshops to help your business scale-up. The brain-child of a group of entrepreneurs and angel investors, along with the City of London Corporation, Innovation Warehouse has raised £35 million for start-ups since 2010 and now has over 250 active investors.
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