The world’s best coworking spaces are not just shared office spaces.
They balance work-time efficiency with professional development and play-time sociability. These places aren’t judged on how they look. They’re vested in community and thinking outside the norm, places where coworkers improve their productivity and network informally.
Flexible workspace locations more than tripled globally from 2014 – 2018. It quadrupled over that time in Australia! The challenge isn’t finding one. It’s finding a good one, because coworking spaces are a thing now.
Corporate office brokers now add flexible workspace to their portfolios, ignoring the importance of community. Upstarts cram 20 non-office chairs into a cramped and noisy room, claiming it’s the best idea since WeWork valued itself at $47 billion. Cafes claim to be cowork spaces, believing the fundamentals are bad coffee and free Wi-Fi. They’re not all that bad, but many do not reflect the core reasons why coworking spaces became popular.
Coming into 2020, here are seven examples of the world’s best coworking spaces and why. While you may not have opportunity to use such far-flung spaces, recognising why they are good will help you find a great coworking space near you.
Best Coworking Space for Getting Everybody Involved
Canggu in Bali is such a popular digital nomad destination the beachside town is running out of coworking desk space. Outpost isn’t the original here but it does an incredible job of fitting a lot of people into a small space. Forget optimal square metres per desk ratio, Outpost’s secret is making every single member feel at home.
Outpost ensures new and existing members have the time that’s needed to know each other, beyond work. Events are structured and consistent. Monday workshops for remote workers, a Wednesday members’ lunch, office massages on Thursdays, and after-work drinks on Friday. As with all the best coworking spaces for digital nomads, Outpost is 24 hours a day for people working across multiple time zones.
Coworking With Personal and Professional Development
One Roof Women, Melbourne
Many shared office spaces fail to grasp the difference between a space to get work done, and a space where members can thrive. The best coworking spaces aid professional growth and One Roof Women is a superb example of this. Created for female freelancers and entrepreneurs, it’s a cowork that is currently expanding to other Australian cities.
Simply focusing on women is surprisingly out of the box within the coworking space – hardly anyone else does it. Their secret to success is creating a space where every user can feel comfortable and confident. For example, on-site business workshops and meditation classes are part of the space’s holistic approach to development.
The Best Looking Coworking Space
Cowork Central, Lisbon
An attractive work environment is key to productivity. From converted industrial yards to brand-new office floors, many cowork spaces can offer a nice environment. Consistent factors across the globe include green plants, expansive views, and high ceilings that project a feeling of spaciousness. Cowork Central takes that a little further as it’s located inside a heritage building, so members are working in the city’s history.
A quiet second-floor retreat in Lisbon’s old and bustling heart, it’s central to so much that makes the city so attractive. Dozens of cute cafes provide lunchtime choice nearby, surfable waves are great for an extended break, and it’s central Lisbon, so everything looks good inside and outside the office.
A Blueprint For All the Best Coworking Spaces
Avenue HQ, Leeds
Basics are central to all the best coworking spaces and Avenue HQ has perfected these. Wi-Fi speeds need to be good and there must be a backup, because even five minutes of downtime can hurt a member. A social vibe is important, without getting in the way of why people go there in the first place – to work efficiently.
Desks need to be optimal height for people working on desks, with chairs that provide proper back support. And then there needs to be a breakout area, a place to quickly change atmosphere, refocus, get creative, or simply break. Avenue HQ extends into East Parade Social, an open-plan cafe that ensures work and rest time are easily distinguished. Avenue HQ proves that coworking spaces are loved when they’re practical and comfortable, rather than fluffy bells and whistles.
Best Coworking Space for Learning From the Locals
Impact Hub, Medellin
Impact Hub now has more than 100 global locations with the same approach. They are creative spaces that help to mobilise entrepreneurs and freelancers. A shared workspace is complemented by a business growth events program, which is essentially an invitation to socialise and learn.
A mix of local and international speakers is a feature of all Impact Hub locations. The free member workshops epitomise why it’s so useful for remote workers to work somewhere, and not in their own silo. They get to discover how creative solutions are implemented in different cultures. It’s a fast-track to growth and Impact Hub Medellin has a wonderful mix of local and international perspectives. And this focus on solutions and development is the real reason why well-known spaces such as Impact Hub have been so successful.
Best Coworking Space for Community
CTO, Cape Town
Cape Town’s original coworking space epitomises the city. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide epic views onto Table Mountain, inspiring a productive day. South Africa is the Rainbow Nation and it’s fully reflected here. Everyone has their own work, from a full range of digital nomads to Cape Town freelancers and entrepreneurs scaling their business.
The vibe is shared. Regular Friday lunchtime meet ups are the more formal side, but it’s the everyday sense of community that makes CTO (Cape Town Office) such a desirable place to be. When members are so diverse there’s always an interesting conversation over the coffee station, or something unusual to brighten a day. So like all the best coworking spaces, you can work for yourself, not by yourself.
The Best Asia Coworking Spaces for Digital Nomads
Pun Space, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is one of the world’s most popular digital nomad hubs. Living costs are low, the locals are welcoming, and the coffee got a whole lot better over the last decade. Pun Space has three locations in the city and members can use them all with the same membership. This perfectly reflects the ever-changing needs of a busy digital nomad.
The vibrant Nimmam location is good for small and easy tasks, as well as taking calls. Wiang Kaew is spacious and full of natural light, ideal for tasks requiring real concentration. Tha Phae Gate is super professional and best for extended stints behind a desk. Having a choice raises productivity because it’s easy to get into the right zone for the work.
The Best Coworking Spaces For You in 2020 – 2021
As the industry grows you can expect more and more choice. All the best coworking spaces offer a free trial. Even if it’s just for one hour, actually working at a space is the best way to discover if it’s for you. Many cowork spaces look nice. Just remember, you’re not looking for a nice place, you’re looking for a good place to work.
You’ll get a much better feel by taking out your laptop and actually working. This gives you time to check out the day-to-day working practicalities and any opportunities for development. You also need to trial a place to gauge the mood. People won’t be social when working, but you just know when a place has the right vibe.