On The Road
The World’s Best Co-Working Office Spaces
Nine new flexible premises to set your startup apart
Mortimer House, London. Photograph by Mr Ed Reeve, courtesy of Mortimer House
As the fourth industrial revolution gathers pace, it is causing a paradigmatic shift in the way we work. We need more places to cater to our changing habits – namely flexible hours, no need for a permanent base and constant access to really good coffee. However, what hasn’t changed is our need to change out of our pyjamas and step into an environment with an atmosphere to stimulate the neurons and the right facilities to work.
WeWork started a workplace revolution when they opened their first co-working space in 2010. Its empire now spans 21 countries with locations from Toronto to Tel Aviv, bringing in $1bn a year in subscriptions, and the company is likely to go public sometime this year. But over its years of operation, the market has itself diversified and grown. Today, there are innumerable co-working spaces with innumerable personalities. Whether you value top-drawer design, community spirit or just a readily available caffeine fix, you’ll find the place for you in our list of the best co-working spaces anywhere in the world.
01. Tiny Empire, Cape Town
Photograph by Mr Hayden Phipps, courtesy of Tiny Empire
“Where Empires Are Born,” reads the slogan to Cape Town’s premier co-working space. Inside, white-washed brickwork provides a stage for the half-moon Italian sofas, Brazilian arm chairs, cork stools, pot plants, not to mention a taxidermy heron whose own tiny empire probably once stretched to Madagascar. The high-concept art matches the ambition of the nascent CEOs bustling around with a flat white in hand. The team behind this former tea warehouse are the founders of MotherCityHardware, who have managed to elevate the humble filing cabinet into an objet d’art in South Africa’s second most populous city. The space is split up into a double height “work lounge” to encourage thinking big, an austere reading room to allow for optimum flow and more private meeting “suites” if you don’t fancy being ear-wigged as you pitch your latest humdinger of a new business idea. The showers are stocked with Aesop products and there are strictly no pets allowed.
Membership: tiered and different access permitted via a secure key. From R 2,500 per month
What to wear
02. Great Room, Centennial Tower, Singapore
Photograph courtesy of The Great Room
With The Great Room, founder Ms Jaelle Ang wanted to recreate the buzz of a hotel lobby, as she believes it is there and not at a desk or in a meeting room that the really big deals are done. And it is a lobby area that forms the heart of her third, 36,000sq ft space in Singapore’s Centennial Tower, which opens this month (though it does offer beautifully appointed desks and meeting rooms, too). Serial entrepreneurs and startup hopefuls hobnob on the leather sofas talking finance and technology and there are always the marble-topped kitchenettes to escape to if it all gets too noisy. With plans to have seven properties open in Asia by the end of 2018 (Jakarta and Hong Kong are well underway), there is a Soho House Every House-style membership option, which covers every Great Room for the business traveller frequenting these major hubs in the Asia Pacific region.
Membership: desks from $750 per month; $2,800 per month for a private office
What to wear
03. Nomad Workspace, Copenhagen
Photograph by Ms Line Klein, courtesy of Nomad Workspace
To understand the vibe of Nomad Workspace, take a quick look at its Instagram. The interiors are straight out of the pages of Cereal magazine, all peachy pinks, cast-iron radiators and exposed wooden floors basking in natural light, and everyone seems to share that glow of people who work for themselves and love what they do. Open 24/7, it has 80 work stations to choose from for head-down complicated stuff and an informal studio space with plush sofas for networking and answering emails. The cafe serves ginger shots and gin and tonics in addition to the coffees, pastries, granolas and salads. The Last Resort gallery stocks the art space with ever-changing sculptures and paintings.
Membership: from DKK 2,500 per month for a hot-desk-type setup
What to wear
04. The New Work Project, Brooklyn, New York
Photograph by Mr Will Ellis, courtesy of The New Work Project
Inside this former foundry, which happens to also be the former home of Vice Media, sits this new private members’ hub designed with media and design folk in mind. It has been conceived by The New Design Project, a studio founded by a husband-and-wife team, both former bankers who decided that their true calling in life was decorating apartments with an emphasis on giving a space a personality transplant and not just a lick of paint. The colour scheme in their first large-scale project is black and white with accents of brass. It’s heavy on pendant globe lamps and Mr Pierre Jeanneret-designed chairs that you’ll want to take home (but can’t, sorry). Work spaces range from marble counter tops and private phone cubicles to breakout areas and studios for up to nine people.
Membership: $395 per month (lounge membership); $595 per month (gallery membership)
Studio membership: from $2,100 per month (three-person studio) to $5,400 per month (nine-person studio)
What to wear
05. Fosbury & Sons, Antwerp
Photograph by Mr Frederik Vercruysse, courtesy of Fosbury & Sons
“Fosbury & Sons is an antidote to the office of the past” reads its website. And that might be right because it’s not often you find a co-working space with an on-site tailor. But this is Antwerp, the alma mater of Messrs Raf Simons and Martin Margiela. Whether you’re a one-man startup or a large corporation looking to shake up the way you work, all are welcome to pitch up at a work station in this building, designed by Mr Léon Stynen, which looks austere on the outside but is all exposed concrete, mid-century sofas and indoor plants within. The events programme includes weekly member’s lunches and movie nights. Local caterer CoffeeLabs handles not only the black stuff but the quiches and salads to nourish your brain and get you through the working day. Membership also gives you access to two Audi A4 co-company cars and unlimited tea.
Membership: from €175 per month
What to wear
06. East Room, Toronto
Photograph by Mr Michael Graydon, courtesy of East Room
If MR PORTER designed a co-working space, it would look a bit like East Room. Horseshoe leather banquettes, industrial lamps, exposed brick, a judicious use of neon signage and an encyclopaedia of mid-century furniture sit together seamlessly in this 1860s warehouse. No wonder, then, that it’s a magnet for the city’s top tech talent, chief creatives and art aficionados. It’s sat in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood, and membership ranges from access to the work lounge and six-hours use of the boardrooms to private offices and unlimited boardroom access.
Membership: starts at $250
What to wear
07. Ministry of New, Mumbai
Photograph courtesy of Ministry of New
You’re unlikely to find a more varied cast of characters in any other co-working space in the world than those you’ll encounter at Mumbai’s Ministry of New. The management informs us that at any one time you might be piecing together your Keynote presentation next to a ghostwriter, a headhunter or a drone mapper. Seeing as it's housed in the former Kitab Mahal (“Book Palace”), it’s perhaps no surprise that the library takes centre stage here. Shelves of books and objects of interest line the double-height ceilings. Ikat upholstered sofas tempt you to settle down with your latest copy of Monocle, and the balcony looks over the southern end of the city. Cafe Monday is the place to refuel on sandwiches and salads before heading to the naturally lit courtyard to work through your neverending to-do list.
Membership: 11,000 INR (10 days a month); 19,500 INR (unlimited)
What to wear
08. Crew Collective, Montreal
Photograph by Mr Adrien Williams, courtesy Crew Collective
Built in the 1920s, the former Royal Bank of Canada plays host to this co-working space with a difference. Firstly, its policy is very open door and the public cafe is right at its heart. Secondly, membership is very flexible. If, for instance, you need a little more peace and quiet than this echoing cathedral to mammon affords, you can rent a workspace by the hour to finish off that presentation. Of course, there are monthly and annual options as well. The meeting rooms are not as attractive as some of the others featured here, but the majestic atrium more than makes up for it. Plus, there’s a balcony for blue-sky thinking and a chill room if your stress levels reach their limit or you’ve over caffeinated by one cortado too many.
Membership: from C$15 per hour on weekends
What to wear
09. Mortimer House, London
Photograph by Mr Ed Reeve, courtesy of Mortimer House
Fitzrovia has had a niggling little problem of late. Too many media types – from BBC bigwigs on their foldable bikes to Business Of Fashion editors in their Off-White hoodies – but too few places large enough for an off-site meeting. Now that’s all changed. Welcome to W1, Mortimer House, the area’s new members’-club-slash-co-working space. The woods are blonder, the windows wider and the decor more mid-century than, say, Soho House, which it is always going to be compared to as it’s a five-minute walk away. The ground-floor restaurant is open to the public and serves Mediterranean fare. In the private gym, there are barre, pilates and TRX classes and if life gets a bit much, there’s always the meditation room to make everything Zen again.
Membership: tiered, starting from £100 per month for access to all communal floors to £1,000 per month for a desk and £5,600 per month for an office for up to 24
What to wear
Montblanc Meisterstück Classique Resin and Gold-Plated Ballpoint Pen
This Is Ground Leather Tech Bag
James Purdey & Sons Full-Grain Leather-Bound Notebook
Ystudio Walnut, Brass and Copper Writing Set
Master & Dynamic MW60 Leather Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
Native Union Clic Card Leather iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus Case