Working in London as a freelancer or even when working on a side project has its perks. One of them being that you’re able to get to know different places and people. As I tend to miss being around people when I am working on side projects or in between contracts, working outside my flat definitely adds a bit of excitement to my day and helps me being more productive.
It is also fun. I once met an engineer working at an ed tech company who was selling some toys at the MoMA.
I considered a co-working space. But, I only need a temporary place to work for a few hours a day every now and then. So, it seemed a bit of a waste of money. The UK coffee shop sector grew by 7.9% in turnover during 2018. I wonder if the increasing numbers of staff and freelancers not using offices for work has anything to do with it.
I was slightly apprehensive at first. I thought it was going to be hard to find somewhere with good wifi where I could concentrate. I also thought it would mostly be students. On the contrary, it is mostly professionals working on their laptops or doing job interviews what I’ve usually found. Why I enjoy working outside my flat:
- I usually get good internet connection
- Owners are used to having this type of customers
- I get to meet other people, which could lead to some business
- It makes me feel comfortable being around others potentially in a similar situation
Some of my favourite places to work
Finding a nice place can be hard sometimes. Here are some of my favourite places to work in case it helps you or someone you know at some point. The ones below are also cool places to hang out after work too. Can you share any others?
Out of the two branches I’ve visited, Holborn and Shoreditch, my favourite is their Shoreditch branch. Easy to get to, it is close enough to Old Street tube station. The entrance is pretty unassuming, it doesn’t stand out like the M&Ms store in Leicester Square, but it is pretty welcoming when you go in. Their coffee/ restaurant areas are comfortable to work for a bit, and then cool enough to hang out after work. Lovely lit fire in winter time.
Wifi: Yes, it works quite well and it is fast.
Sockets: Yes, but they can be scarce. Sit somewhere close to one.
Coffee: It is really good for British standards, one of my favourites. Nice cakes too
Customer service: Staff are generally super nice and don’t keep asking customers while they’re at work.
Cons: The aircon makes it quite cold when it is warm outside.
The British Library
I was there by chance some time ago, helping a friend who was struggling with her digital marketing assignment. I was surprised to see so many pros working on their laptops. When I was a student, I used to review at my local library. So, I had the idea that it was mostly an academic space.
Wifi: It works OK
Sockets: Yes, but very scarce
Coffee: There’s coffee and food available in several areas. The guys at Ikawa Coffee recommended a little coffee shop inside that serves Origin coffee.
Customer service: Staff don’t bother customers if you’re sitting at the cafes
Cons: It can be difficult to take business calls there. It usually is crowded too.
The Wellcome Trust restaurant
I enjoy the Wellcome Trust museum. They have very good exhibitions there, like the one about architecture and health earlier this year. Their coffee shop is OK, but it has no sockets and I find the space is slightly crammed with tables. I discovered the restaurant on the second floor and thought it was lovely. I believe it is a Benugo franchise. If you fancy something different and are in the area, give it a go!
Wifi: Yes, but you need to re-connect after a little while. Save your work frequently.
Sockets: Yes, but they are very scarce.
Coffee: Yes, just standard.
Customer service: Super nice. Ask them about a good place to sit for sockets.
Cons: Wifi isn’t that great in comparison and the atmosphere isn’t too vibrant
I know this is just another chain, but I find it is good for a number of reasons. I particularly like the branch near Tottenham Court Road tube, conveniently located, with its big windows which make you wear shades when it’s sunny outside!
Wifi: Yes, and it has worked fast for me.
Sockets: Yes, plenty of them. The best area is at the back, where the round tables are near the sofa or the armchairs near the windows.
Customer service: Staff are fast and nice
Coffee: You will enjoy it if you like it roasted. Their cookies and Frapuccinos are really good too.
Cons: Tables and sockets can be quite busy at times.
Balans Soho Society
This is one of my favourite places in Soho. I tend to go to the branch opposite Bar Soho for nice coffee and cake during the day or a good meal with a cocktail in the evening. It is a 24 hour bar and restaurant and I’ve always felt super comfortable working or hanging out with friends in there. Very convivial, as their website says.
Wifi: Yes, and it goes fast.
Sockets: Yes, all along the sofas
Coffee: Not bad coffee at all, tasty cakes.
Customer service: Really lovely waiting staff.
Cons: It may be a tad dark inside, but there are individual lights on the wall next to the sofas. Coffee is slightly overpriced, as it is everywhere else in London.