Only One Out Of The Top 12 UK Coworking Spaces Is In London

Regional cities are taking center stage over London in regards to coworking growth in the UK
  • 12 coworking spaces have been shortlisted for an award by UK freelancing association, IPSE
  • All except one are based outside of London, suggesting continued growth in regional cities
  • Research released earlier this year claims that flexible space is spreading well beyond the Capital

UK-based IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, has revealed its top 12 longlisted finalists for the 2018 Coworking Space of the Year award.

What’s interesting about this list of coworking spaces, which have been chosen for their focus on supporting freelance workers, is that all except one are based in regional cities outside of London.

Its top 12 finalists are:

  • Impact Hub, Birmingham
  • PLATF9RM, Brighton
  • Desklodge, Bristol
  • TMRW, Croydon
  • Clockwise, Glasgow
  • Duke Studios, Leeds
  • Avenue HQ, Liverpool
  • DoEs Liverpool, Liverpool
  • Signature Works, Liverpool
  • Space4, London
  • Ashton Old Baths, Manchester
  • Ziferblat Edge Street, Manchester

This is yet another indication of the growth and spread of coworking. A year ago, Steve Upham, founder of Manchester coworking space Altspace, wrote in Deskmag that “the coworking movement in the UK is migrating out from major cities as demand grows for professional work spaces in smaller towns and suburbs,” and now this trend appears to be accelerating further.

In addition to geographical growth, it’s also positive to see that the majority of the finalists are small, independent spaces that clearly have a strong focus on supporting their members by creating, in IPSE’s words, a “nurturing, inclusive and stimulating environment” — all the elements that freelance and self-employed business owners need to thrive.

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In 2017, the self-employed community contributed £271 billion to the UK economy, and with 4.8 million people now working in a self-employed capacity, such spaces are playing a vital role in supporting the needs of independent professionals.

Chris Bryce, CEO of IPSE, commented: “As the self-employed population grows, so does the number and importance of the UK’s coworking spaces. The service they provide to freelancers is truly invaluable.”

Regional spread

In January 2018, Cushman & Wakefield released its Coworking 2018 report, which revealed that around two thirds of the UK flexible workspace market is based outside of London. According to the report, the UK saw “record growth” in demand and significant growth in take-up for flexible space in 2017, as the trend for flexible workspaces “spread well beyond the Capital for the first time.”

The report found that take-up of all leases in the UK’s largest cities (excluding London) jumped from 2% to 7.5% in 2017, which was largely powered by the growth of large operators that are now seeking to grow outside of London — namely WeWork and Spaces.

Another city noted by Cushman & Wakefield for high take-up is Cardiff in Wales. Although it is not traditionally known as a flexible workspace hotspot, this may be set to change as large operators begin to move in. One of them is BizSpace, which has just bought Trafalgar House – a huge office building in Cardiff city centre for £6 million.

This is the first time the long-established serviced office company has ventured into Wales. Emma Long, Commercial Director at BizSpace, says Cardiff is “lacking in good quality flexible workspace” as much of its existing office buildings have been redeveloped into student accommodation or homes.

However, she added that the city “boasts a burgeoning SME market, which shows no signs of slowing”, and BizSpace will begin to cater to this market with the completion of a £2.7 million refurbishment of Trafalgar House.