Finalists for UK's best co-working space announced

IPSE is delighted to announce the 12 longlisted finalists for the 2018 Co-working Space of the Year award.

The award – part of IPSE’s National Freelancers Day 2018 – recognises and celebrates the important role co-working spaces play in creating a nurturing, inclusive and stimulating environment for the UK’s thriving 4.8 million-strong self-employed workforce.

The venues were judged on a range of criteria including the quality of facilities and staff, the innovation, creativity and distinctiveness of their venue, the passion and commitment to their members and the freelancing community, and the price and value of its membership packages.

The 12 finalists, which will later be shortlisted to a final four, are:

  • Impact Hub, Birmingham. The Impact Hub is heavily focused on community and its membership is based on trust. the space offers a work/trade service for those who cannot afford its service. This involves individuals giving up 5.5 hours of their time to help out with events at the hub. There are standing desks dotted around the space along with small meeting huts, quieter studio space and general hot desks. The venue also has two event spaces upstairs, one of which is converted into a creche facility every Thursday. And the studio space downstairs can also be used for an event. At the entrance of the building is a mug wall where every member has their own coffee mug with their name, business and details on next to a polaroid photo of them to encourage collaboration.
  • PLATF9RM, Brighton. PLATF9RM is a flexible co-working space providing a creative business environment for freelancers in Brighton since 2016. Located across two floors of Tower Point – one of two locations in the heart of one of the UK’s coolest cities – PLATF9RM is a melting pot of creativity and collaboration. Film-makers, PR agencies, illustrators, charities, accountants, writers, cleaners, graphic designers and even mime artists occupy 24,000 square feet of community-focussed, event-happy co-working space. With relentless growth, oodles of imagination and whispers of a rooftop space hopefully opening next year, PLATF9RM has grand visions of becoming the go-to destination for freelancers on the south coast and beyond.
  • Desklodge, Bristol. Desklodge is based in the former Evening Post base in central Bristol just a few minutes’ walk from Temple Meads station. The venue has quirky themed meeting room spaces, telephone and meeting booths, a spacious event space and funky décor throughout.  There is free flowing tea and coffee available as well as a flexible membership options, hot desking and 24/7 access. Desklodge promotes and supports the freelancing community with a range of events aimed to connect and inform members.
  • TMRW, Croydon. TMRW is a co-working space in Croydon, south London, that prides itself on having built one of the most spacious and functionally-designed shared offices in the capital. Specialising in the tech field, TMRW offers a range co-working and private office desks for start-ups and scale-ups. With its entire management team and board having specialised in tech fields, as well as a network of specialist mentors and tech investors, there are few better platforms from which to launch into the industry. With fantastic facilities, an industry-focussed environment and its award-winning Byte Café, TMRW has set itself as the benchmark in the aptly named ‘Silicon Valley of South London’. 
  • Clockwise, Glasgow. Opened in May 2017, Clockwise is one of the first few co-working spaces in central Glasgow. Within nine months of opening, the space had 250 members and were working at 70 per cent capacity. Now they are in the process of expanding the space by two floors to accommodate the demand. Clockwise offers a variety of spaces to work, from hotdesks to a dedicated desk and fully furnished private offices with 24-hour access. Memberships are based on a flexible monthly rolling contract and come with a benefits package, which includes discounts on leisure, over-night stays, childcare, restaurants and more. They also host their own events and even have a 5,000 square foot terrace.
  • Duke Studios, Leeds. Duke Studios is an open co-working space in Leeds city centre with a motto of people first, business second. It provides a range of workspaces, imaginative services and facilities to creatives from all fields: from film makers and web developers, to architects and animators. Founders Laura Wellington and James Abbott Donnelly created the space with two visions. First, to build an inspiring, stimulating and inclusive space for creative individuals across different sectors to work. And second, to turn this space into a creative hub to facilitate interaction, encourage networking and spark collaboration. Duke Studios accounts for everyone from freelance hot desks, to studio space for small businesses and even has its own bar and space to host concerts and other events.
  • Avenue HQ, Liverpool. Avenue HQ is a stunning, glass-fronted co-working space overlooking Liverpool’s historic waterfront designed specifically around the requirements of the local community. Avenue HQ boasts a broad range of member packages from ‘Flex’ membership at £20 per month to private office space for £600. Supported by Eagle Labs – an initiative by Barclays – Avenue HQ hosts up to 200 entrepreneurs and businesses and boasts a maker space to support rapid prototyping for all members. With a diverse calendar of events ranging from quiz nights and pie days to breakfast meet-ups and tester sessions, Avenue HQ provides a work/life balance to fulfil the needs of the city’s growing freelance workforce.
  • DoEs Liverpool, Liverpool. It is quite fitting that DoES Liverpool relocated in the past few months to Liverpool’s trendy Fabric District. The former warehouses, once the heart of the city’s thriving textile and clothing trade – including The Tapestry, in which DoES is located – are being given a new lease of life as part of an urban renewal project. DoES doubles as a traditional co-working space – offering flexible hotdesk and permanent desk options at reasonable prices (tip: your first day is free if you bring a cake) – and, in a nod to Liverpool’s industrial past, a lab specialising in laser cutting and technology. Like the district in which they work, DoES members – entrepreneurs and company founders, artists and makers, developers and hardware engineers, academics and students – contribute richly to the tapestry of the city.
  • Signature Works, Liverpool. Operating under the Signature Living brand – an established developer of luxurious hotels – Signature Works is a sleek co-working space in the centre of Liverpool. Located in the striking Bling Bling Building, Signature Works provides its members with an environment that actively promotes an expansive frame of mind. Not only do Signature Works provide stylish office space, their incubator programme provides members with a platform to present business to a panel of high-profile business people to fast-track funding or Angel support. And with benefits and discounts across the Signature hotel, spa, bar and restaurant portfolio, Signature Works is far more than just a co-working space. 
  • Space4, London. Nestled in the heart of north London, Space 4 isn’t your average co-working space. With a pay-what-you-can membership model, an emphasis on cooperative businesses and a strong community engagement programme, it’s a co-working space with a distinctively ethical slant. Space 4 may have just 25 desks, but they have big plans and an equally big focus on building up their community of freelancers. As well as weekly communal lunches, they also run everything from film screenings to data mapping workshops. To cement their ethics credentials, Space 4 are also working with Islington Council and partnering with the cooperative Founders and Coders to offer free coding lessons to youngsters in the area.
  • Ashton Old Baths, Manchester. Ashton Old Baths is a historic space, reinvented for the small and medium-sized businesses in the digital and creative sector. Formally a Victorian public bath house, this iconic landmark has recently been rejuvenated to house a progressive community of freelancers and small businesses. The central hub, an architectural marvel built into the original walls of this iconic building, is home to an impressive range of private workspaces designed to nurture creativity and growth.
  • Ziferblat Edge Street, Manchester. Nestled in the heart of Manchester’s thriving Northern Quarter is Ziferblat, a pay-per-minute co-working space. A self-styled home away from home spread across a 3,000 square foot sitting room, Ziferblat is decked out with comfortable sofas, warm lamps and thick rugs creating a relaxed, warm and laid-back atmosphere. The venue also has studios, classrooms and meeting rooms accommodating for events, workshops and a multitude of activities. It’s USP is certainly it’s pricing model though: visitors pay eight pence per minute – six pence for the meeting rooms – which includes unlimited access to tea, coffee, cake, snacks and Wi-Fi. There is a four-hour cap, after which guests can stay as long as they like at no extra cost.

Chris Bryce, IPSE CEO, commented: “As the self-employed population grows, so does the number and importance of the UK’s co-working spaces. Whether you’re a graphic designer looking for a creative environment, a software developer looking for a supportive workplace, or an author looking for a community, there is one place you turn: co-working spaces.

“Our 12 longlisted finalists – are shining examples of the growing number of creative, collaborative spaces springing up right across the country. The service they provide to freelancers is truly invaluable. Many congratulations to them all for being selected from so many strong candidates in such an important, growing field.”

The winner will be announced at National Freelancers Day on Thursday 28 June 2018. The biggest day in the freelancing calendar, IPSE’s central event at Kings Place in London will include expert guest speakers, interactive workshops, panel sessions and much more.

For tickets to National Freelancers Day and more information on the venues, visit the website.