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ARTICLE Business TipsAugust 7, 2015

Ten of the best co-working spaces in Australia

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Have you ever considered the benefits of joining a co-working space? From access to hundreds of fellow professionals – from web developers to digital marketing experts and lawyers – to exciting educational programs, Australia’s co-working spaces offer freelancers, contractors and e-commerce business owners much more than just a desk.

Co-working spaces are popping up all over Australia’s cities and suburbs as growing numbers of freelancers, contractors and small business owners move out of their home offices in favour of more innovative, flexible workspaces.

While working from home can be a perk – no long or expensive commutes and the flexibility to structure your day as you please – many people find it has major drawbacks.

There are those who miss the separation of “work” and “home”; others yearn for colleagues; some just can’t bear the monotony of being housebound; and there are even people who miss the daily commute! 

If you fit into any of these categories, a co-working space might be just what you need. Sure, you may get strange looks from friends and family when they hear that you are paying to work from a space when you could work at home for free. However, the impact of the immediate access to “colleagues” – your fellow co-workers – can be huge. More importantly, you instantly grow your network to include a community of experts who are successfully running their own businesses or projects. Do you need a web developer, copywriter or freelance event manager? Simply ask around or put a message out – many co-working spaces have their own social network offerings.

Plus, most co-working spaces host regular events and education programs where you can learn new concepts or skills. Friday evening drinks or midweek lunch sessions can add a welcome social element to the working week, and some spaces even have business clubs dedicated to special interests.

A co-working space can also allow you to put your most professional foot forward, as it generally offers meeting rooms, Skype desks, breakout spaces and access to printers and office equipment, as well as kitchens. 

How it works

Adelaide

1. Hub Adelaide 

Hub Australia operates co-working “clubhouses” in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Membership gives you access to any of the Hub Australia locations, which is ideal if you travel frequently between those three capital cities. Plus, you also gain access to co-working spaces in Asia and the US. Hub Australia puts an emphasis on its “activated community” and work–life balance – don’t be surprised to see members joining together for a yoga or meditation class. The Adelaide clubhouse features 100Mbps fibre internet connections, 10 meeting spaces, private studios for teams, a ping-pong table and outdoor balcony for sunny days.

Brisbane

2. River City Labs 

This co-working space is dedicated to promoting and developing early-stage and start-up businesses. It is particularly geared towards the mobile, internet, telecoms and technology sectors and has about 100 members.

River City Labs encourages accelerators, incubators and professional services companies in Queensland to get involved with its members. “Our focus is on driving the local ecosystem of mentors, angels, venture capitalists, investment bankers, accountants, lawyers, business advisers, contract web designers and developers and any other relevant party,” it says.

In addition to a comprehensive educational program, it also puts on pizzas and drinks on the last Friday of every month, which is aimed at connecting people in the Queensland start-up and accelerator community with its members.

Melbourne

3. The Cluster 

This high-end co-working space provides a truly professional environment for its 300 members. In addition to the “standard” co-working offerings, its locations on Queens and Market streets feature receptionists, telephony, IT support and amazing views. The CBD location and quality fit-out ensure the space attracts top-calibre members and businesses, including The Lingerie Boutique

To support local artists, The Cluster features a “live art gallery with exhibitions cycling through the space”.

4. York Butter Factory 

This is the go-to co-working space for Melbourne’s high-potential, early-stage technology entrepreneurs. Airtasker and WeTeachMe are among its membership of 50 tech start-ups, which are mostly from the B2B and enterprise sectors.

“We believe in a culture of collaboration, resource sharing and tough love to achieve mutual wins and to promote the cross-pollination of experience and ideas,” it says.

In addition to a full schedule of weekly events and talks, members can also gain access to funding through the tech-focused venture capital fund run out of the York Butter Factory, as well as seed funding via the Aurelius Digital angel investment network.

5. Queens Collective 

With big-name tech companies among its membership, Queens Collective focuses on tech start-ups and aims to stand out from the crowd by offering its members some great benefits from the likes of Uber. Members receive a 15 per cent discount off all General Assembly courses, free Uber ride credit, a PwC account manager for R&D, free legal advice, free cloud hosting and access to the Queens Collective network of investors and mentors.

“Our members are driven, collaborative, seek business (and personal) growth, and are always learning,” it says. “We're also the only co-working space in Australia with built-in, dedicated classrooms – used by our kick-ass education partner, General Assembly.”

6. Inspire9 

This Richmond co-working space places an emphasis on community and is all about connecting its members. It is also proud to reflect some of Melbourne’s business history by being housed in one of the neighbourhood’s oldest buildings, the decommissioned Australian Knitting Mills, which was established in 1910.

Members generally hail from the start-up, creative and freelance industries, with the likes of travel tech business Rome2rio among its residents.

“Inspire9 has become a community in the truest sense,” it says. “We share ideas, responsibilities and opportunities. In many instances, we share music, hobbies and even possessions. We share information: news, links, memes, stories, blogs and much more. Forget minding our own business, we are each other’s business.”  

Inspire9 provides meeting rooms, spaces for events and a host of business offerings. It also ensures its not all business though, with a table tennis and pool table, as well as foosball.

Perth

7. Spacecubed 

This West Australian co-working space is all about collaboration and innovation. With a CBD location, it is home to a mix of social, environmental, technology and creative entrepreneurs. A range of small businesses, consultants, corporates, government and not-for-profit organisations are also housed there.

Spacecubed offers members mentors through its Office Hours program. “Use these conversations to bounce ideas off new ears, learn more about a particular business topic or get advice on challenges you are facing,” it suggests.

Plus, the Spacecubed Intensify Scholarship has been designed to supercharge the development of entrepreneurial businesses that are in their early development. Every three months, a new group of entrepreneurs is selected to rapidly move their idea forward and gain access to Spacecubed’s networks, community, mentors and space. There are six available scholarships: one for a social entrepreneur, one for a technology entrepreneur, one for an environmental entrepreneur, one for a creative entrepreneur and two for female founders.

Sydney

8. The Ventura 

Designed specifically for women, this co-working space opened in Sydney in March 2015. It was started by Dr Catriona Wallace, who wanted to create a space for start-up businesses and social entrepreneurs with a female founder, co-founder or CEO that have less than $1 million in revenue and are under three years old.

In addition to the “usual” co-working offerings, The Ventura also offers access to financial support, investment communities and childcare.

Dr Wallace told The Australian: “In planning this new work space, we have designed The Ventura to overcome current challenges that women-led start-ups face. These include access to capital / investors, pre-qualified services such as legal, accounting and media, as well as technology and developers and international business networks. We will also assist entrepreneurs with everyday support functions, from childcare to group emotional support, as well as access to events.”

9. Stone and Chalk 

This is a co-working space with a difference, as it is a “not-for-profit ‘fintech’ hub” that aims to become the physical centre for the development of the fintech (financial technology) industry in Australia. The industry-led initiative has brought together fintech entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, corporates and government, to incubate and nurture financial services-focused tech start-ups.

It has been designed for start-ups involved in a range of financial applications, including payments, peer-to-peer, crowdfunding, automated advice, capital markets and crypto-currencies. Partners include major banks and card schemes, Amazon web services, major retailers and regional government. Hopeful members must apply for membership.

10. Tank Stream Labs 

Location, location, location! Tank Stream Labs’ Sydney CBD address is right in the heart of all the city action. This co-working space is home to more than 30 start-ups – including Braintree, BuzzFeed and SurveyMonkey – and over 150 entrepreneurs, the vast majority of whom are working full-time on their business or project.

In addition to fortnightly events, Tank Stream Ventures (TSV) is a core member of the co-working space. This is a technology-focused fund that invests in early-stage start-ups, often in the mobile, e-commerce and software sectors.

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