Best CoWorking Spaces in the Northern Powerhouse
Co-working spaces, sometimes known as shared offices or flexible workspaces, aren’t a new trend, but have increased dramatically in popularity in recent years. A couple of months ago we attended the GCUC (Global Co-Working Unconference Conference) and they estimated that between 2017 and 2022 there’ll be an increase of 15,000 spaces and over 3 million members. We’ve already shared the best co-working spaces in both London and Dublin, but with co-working growing outside of the capital cities we thought it was about time we shared our list of the best spaces across the North of the UK, including Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow.
As more and more money is invested into the “Northern Powerhouse”, lots of businesses are realising that they no longer need to base themselves in London, and cities in both the North and the Midlands are becoming more popular. Channel 4 recently decided to move its national HQ to Leeds, and has opened “creative hubs” in both Bristol and Glasgow.
Like any workspace, co-working spaces don’t follow a one-size-fits-all design. There’s a huge variety of spaces, and they all differ in everything from their basic layout to the amenities offered. What works for a corporate insurance firm probably won’t be right for a small tech start up so, before choosing your space, you need to assess what your business and employees need. Do most of your team travel in from a different area? If so, being located near the train station would be a good idea. Are your employees health-focussed? A co-working space with onsite gym or fitness facilities could work. Depending on the space you choose, it also could be a great way of offering extra benefits for your employees.
We’ve been scouring the best co-working spaces in the nation, and have come up with a list of the best co-working spaces outside of London…
Custard Factory – Birmingham
The Custard Factory houses a mixture of creative and digital businesses and independent retailers, and is located in Birmingham city centre, a few minutes walk from the iconic Bullring shopping centre.
Set in 15 acres of riverside factories in the city’s creative district, The Custard Factory was built more than 100 years ago by Alfred Bird to manufacture (you guessed it…) custard. The Custard Factory has a range of office spaces to suit a business of any size, including studios for start-ups, with 24 hour access and a fully operational reception.
As well as this, the site boasts a range of facilities and amenities, including cafes, retailers, a cinema and regular events.
Innovation Birmingham – Birmingham
Innovation Birmingham is the perfect choice for tech companies or digital start ups. It’s located in the heart of Birmingham, and is fully equipped to cater for tech firms of all sizes. If you’re after a permanent office space, Innovation can offer offices of all sizes. The co-working space is a great choice for freelancers or small start ups, as it offers access to informal meeting areas and super fast internet, with the goal of helping entrepreneurs work closely with other, like-minded people in a bright and collaborative setting. Innovation holds regular events for its 1000+ members, including networking events and workshops covering a range of topics, mainly related to tech and the business world.
Regus Birmingham – Birmingham
Regus operates several co-working spaces in central Birmingham, but we love the Temple Row Business Centre. The stylishly designed space is located a few minutes from Snow Hill train station and around 10 minutes from Birmingham New Street. Regus Birmingham Temple Row has a really flexible approach to co-working, making it a great choice for a small firm or freelancer. Desks can be rented by the hour, by the day or by the month, meaning you will only be paying for what you need. Regardless of the plan you choose, you will have access to a fully-furnished, modern space equipped with high-speed internet and a staffed reception.
The Distillery – Glasgow
The Distillery, operated by The Whisky Bond, is housed in an old, disused distillery located in Spiers Lock, known for being a creative hub in north Glasgow. The Whisky Bond is home to a community of designers, artists and creative businesses, and The Distillery is their dedicated co-working space.
Membership is all-inclusive and runs on a rolling monthly basis, and gives members 24/7 access to the space. The space is open plan, light and airy, and has a mixture of spaces to suit every working style.
WorkLife Manchester – Manchester (Opening Soon!)
WorkLife has traditionally been known for co-working spaces in London and the South East, but has recently made the move further North. Opening in November 2018, WorkLife Manchester is located right in the centre of the city, with the Northern Quarter and Piccadilly Gardens as its neighbours. WorkLife’s ethos is to provide a space where its members actually want to be. Each space is designed to reflect the neighbourhood it’s in, and they are all located in neighbourhoods with atmosphere, green spaces, bars and restaurants nearby.
As well as the usual co-working amenities, such as super-fast internet, meeting room access and a range of working spaces, WorkLife Manchester offers lots of extra benefits for its members, such as free yoga classes, monthly massages, beer and pizza nights and regular member social events.
Head Space Manchester – Manchester
HeadSpace’s new 15,000sq.ft Manchester site is becoming a hub for the creative industries. The bright and modern space offers a mixture of open-plan co-working spaces and private offices, which would suit an individual freelancer up to a well-established company. As well as a staffed reception and high-speed internet, HeadSpace Manchester offers a nap room, refreshment bars and a large event space overlooking the city.
Beehive Lofts – Manchester
Beehive Lofts Co-working was founded nearly 5 years ago as a home-from-home for those working in the digital and creative industries. Beehive Lofts aims to be more than a co-working space, and believes that the environment you and your team are in can affect the work you produce. For this reason, Beehive don’t offer hot-desking as a membership option. Memberships are offered as either 1 or 6 month plans, and don’t offer the more flexible day or hour memberships. According to Beehive themselves, this means “no strangers walking past your desk”! Beehive Lofts is a great choice for companies wanting a more stable place to work, amongst a community of like-minded people. Membership gives you access to the whole of Beehive Mill, which includes communal lounges, meeting rooms and kitchens.
Avenue HQ – Liverpool and Leeds
Avenue HQ was founded in Liverpool, and strives to make the space an inclusive, community-led and professional space. Both the original Liverpool site and the new Leeds site have been built with the end-user in mind. They’re the perfect mix of modern and traditional design and include everything you’d need from a co-working space. Both venues have a mix of co-working spaces and private offices, as well as fully licensed bars and coffee shops, and the Leeds location even boasts an impressive roof terrace.
Castleton Mill – Leeds
Located in a Grade II listed former textile mill with high ceilings and big windows, it’s no shock that the Castleton Mill co-working space is so popular. The 19th Century building has been updated to make it suitable for the modern worker, but still retains its rustic charm with its original wooden beams, vaulted ceilings and Yorkshire stone floors. The building has now been repurposed into a combination of open-plan co-working spaces, smaller studios and large event spaces. Each co-working membership includes a dedicated desk, 24 hour access and high-speed internet, and each floor has kitchen facilities and dedicated meeting rooms. If that’s not enough to tempt you, Castleton Mill’s approach to sustainability could be interesting for a more environmentally-conscious business, with its commitment to sustainability through sustainable design, low-carbon practices and internal energy production.
Bruntwood – Cotton Exchange – Liverpool
Located in the heart of Liverpool’s commercial district and housed in a Grade II listed building is Bruntwood’s Cotton Exchange. The impressive space offers co-working spaces and a range of office spaces suitable for businesses of all sizes. The Loft is the Cotton Exchange’s newly created co-working space, which has been designed for freelancers and start ups. The whole building boasts super-fast WiFi, 24 hour access, showers and plenty of natural light. The building will soon undergo refurbishment to add more meeting rooms, a new reception and a series of collaboration and breakout spaces.