For freelancers and remote employees, finding a decent work space can be a bit like wandering the desert in search of an oasis.
Working from home is always an option, but only for the ultra-disciplined. For most people, the combined temptations of a sofa, TV, and an Internet connection that doesn’t automatically block Netflix are just too overwhelming.
Working from a coffee shop is the next best option, but it too has its drawbacks (namely $6 lattes, limited seating, and lousy Wi-Fi).
And then there’s working from the library, which is exactly like working from a coffee shop if you replace the $6 lattes with enormous stacks of books.
This is where co-working spaces enter the picture. For the same amount of money you spend on your daily latte, you can rent a desk at a co-working space and enjoy all the benefits of going to an office every day, just like a normal employee.
Having people to talk to and collaborate with, having a daily routine, having a desk that isn’t three feet away from your bed—no longer are these off-limits. And unlike a “normal” employee, you get to enjoy all these perks without the hassle of having to work in the same building as your boss.
In 2014, Inc. reported there was 83% growth in the number of co-working spaces, with memberships increasing by 117% between 2012 and 2013. This year, the number of co-working spaces in the world is poised to reach 10,000.
Of those 10,000 space, here are 10 that we think stand out from the pack.
- Impact Hub (Multiple locations)
86 locations throughout the world and counting! ImpactHub is all about community connections and support. What’s special about this company is that it offers a franchise-like opportunity to open a location in one’s city or town via its Makers program. Each hub has its own offerings from their rentals to their events. For example, Impact Hub in Philadelphia, PA, offers a free co-working day on Wednesday for the community to explore the space and experience “a day in the life…” Rates will vary by location.
- WeWork (Multiple locations)
With locations throughout the US, Israel, UK, and the Netherlands, WeWork offers a number of scalable space solutions for the freelancer to the large company. WeWork locations act as community centers offering shared and dedicated work spaces to meet your business and networking needs. Depending on the membership level, WeWork offers access to conference rooms and communal/recreation space. Members can enjoy a variety of perks, including free coffee/tea and arcade games. Memberships also include benefits to receive special offers from over 200 partners, such as Moo for business cards and ZipCar for travel.
- The Surf Office (Multiple locations)
Who doesn’t want to work on the beach?!?! The Surf Office, with locations in Lisbon, The Canary Islands, and San Francisco makes it all possible. They’ve tapped into the “Work Hard, Play Hard” motto by offering on-site sleep accommodations, a place to work, and group field trips to explore the location and its culture. The Surf Office has created an international community of travellers, working on-the-go, to network and exchange ideas. Companies, big and small, can organize company retreats at The Surf Office locations. Their goal is to bring all employees together, including remote workers. Whether it’s for team-building exercises or to work on special projects, the opportunity for collaboration is a benefit within itself.
- Workplace One (Multiple locations)
With 3 locations in Toronto and 1 in Kitchener, this Ontario-based co-working company offers its members virtual and physical office solutions based on work needs. Options range from flex space (shared desk) to meeting room as day office rental. Members can tailor services as needed, all within a secured environment.An added feature is event rental at 2 of the Toronto locations. Workplace One in King West and Queen West Village offer lounge space for meet-ups, cocktail parties, dinners and more. After a long day at work, there’s nothing like a party to celebrate a job well done! Members won’t have to go far!
- B Amsterdam (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Amsterdam is an innovative co-working hub in the center of Amsterdam, housed in a former IBM HQ building. It has been considered one of the most affordable co-working spaces in the world by Quartz. Their membership plans range from 5 flex days a month to a dedicated office. Amsterdam shines as a creative space, offering access to video production and photo shoot rooms. It acts a rental event space for parties, presentations and more. The hub also offers a gym with classes and programs for members at an additional fee. Members have the added benefit of accessing B. Bylon, the rooftop garden, where members can grow their own herbs and produce.
- Hacker Lab (California).
Started in the heart of Silicon Valley, Hacker Lab consists of 2 co-working spaces in Northern California. Hacker Lab is focused on encouraging innovation in the technology sector by developing a community space for students and professionals to come together to form new ideas.The community aspect of Hacker Lab stems beyond collaboration. There’s Maker Space where members can design and produce prototypes. There are free and discounted classes and workshops. HackerLab also offers a mentorship program to connect with seasoned professionals and industry experts.The membership types range from student to private office. There is also an option to add a child to “Resident” level membership, which is a great way to encourage interest in technology and the sciences. Membership is good for access to both locations in Sacramento and Rocklin (San Francisco Bay area).
- Punspace (Ching Mai, Thailand)
Punspace offers memberships and visitor passes to accommodate the steady worker and the traveling nomad. Members can choose from shared space and dedicated office plans. Visitor plans offer a range from one-day to a 24/7 week-long pass. No matter the membership plan, members have 24/7 access to the hub and are eligible for discounts on meeting room rentals. However, the those with quarterly to annual plans receive the added perks of free access hours to meeting rooms. All members are also invited to participate in community events at the hub (free and paid).
- Betahaus (Multiple locations)
With hubs in Germany, Spain, and Bulgaria, Betahaus offers a variety of solutions based on location, membership options (individual and team) and event types. For instance, the Berlin location offers professional development and recreation courses on-site. In Hamburg, there are community-based pop-up stores. In Barcelona, there are carpentry workshops available on a daily or membership basis. In Bulgaria, community events include breakfast gatherings. Membership rates and benefits vary across the locations. However, Betahaus’ strength across the board is the understanding of its members and tailoring the space and community interaction to them. They celebrate their members with features on their blog and events like art exhibitions.
- Co+Hoots (Phoenix, Arizona)
From its name, Co+Hoots is all about collaboration within its hub community. They offer a job board and employee referral network. They partner with local business for special discounts and access to small business events/workshops. They also have a community service exchange program for pro-bono work throughout the world through its Co+Hoots Foundation. Co+Hoots offers a variety of members from the single day (Fly By) to full-time member (Nest Member – There is a waiting list). Some memberships require a commitment to volunteer or offer promotion of your business. The point is to truly make the most of out of the local community, even shouting out local food trucks on their blog on Wednesdays.
- The Factory (Berlin, Germany)
The Factory is Germany’s largest technology hub. It’s more of a campus for entrepreneurs and professionals to come together to launch new ideas. Its co-working space is just a piece of its community’s puzzle. The Factory offers classes, partner-sponsored special events and even a restaurant, Studio Tim Raue. Independent workers and large companies alike have a place to work, develop and grow. The Factory offers just about every tool one needs to be successful, including free coffee and printing. Memberships range from Basic one-day plans to monthly Full memberships based on company type (Startup. Business, Corporate).
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 40% of the workforce in the United States will consist of independent workers. If you combine that with the number of full-time and part-time employees who work remotely, that number would be much higher. Co-working spaces are meeting a need for those who travel for business or need to work somewhere other than home or the coffee shop.
Not sure what space is right for you? Many co-working spaces offer tours and free trials. This will allow you to experience if the environment is a right fit. Check out a few and see what will work for you.
The Global Coworking Map is a great resource to get information on coworking spaces around the world. It gives you data on country, cities, seats available and more! Visit http://coworkingmap.org/ to take a look!
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