While many entrepreneurs and freelancers can and do set up home offices or take to the coffee shops, for just as many, these settings prove to be less than effective. Yet, most individuals in this category are not ready for or do not really need a formal office suite. But, especially for entrepreneurs, working in an environment surrounded by other like-minded individuals, or those who can help them start solidifying their ideas often proves both more effective and more satisfying. There are plenty of office spaces in Leicester, and we’ve even tried and tested a few of them!
What is more, not everyone has the resources to make an effective home office anyway. And while remote working has taken over the way of working over the past year, our home space may lack useful equipment and resources such as copiers, whiteboards or printers.
Thus, the demand for a new type of office space in Leicester has led to the rise of “co-working” spaces in the city – essentially shared working spaces with work areas for individuals and groups where they can either work alone or collaborate and network. With many graduates from our local universities aspiring to start new business ventures or make their way as a freelancer, Leicester does sadly lack in such innovative workspaces.
However, that has been changing of late, starting with one of the universities themselves! Here, we will give you a quick overview of the best co-working spaces in Leicester to help you find a creative and productive environment to get your business or idea off the ground. If you’re looking for a super casual working space, then we would recommend 200 Degrees, St Martins Coffee, Leicester Coffee House, University Of Leicester Library Cafe or the New Walk Museum And Art Gallery Cafe. Or, if you’re looking for something slightly more professional, keep on reading.
Best Coworking in Leicester for Freelancers & Startups
De Montfort University opened up their Innovation Centre in 2015 to students, staff and visitors as an incubator for entrepreneurs and freelancers. A part of their centre is their co-working café in Leicester City Centre.
The co-working café is free to all ICMs (Innovation Centre Members – it is free to register to become an ICM as well). The co-working café boasts:
• Free Wi-Fi
• Availability to use whiteboards, flip charts, and even Macs
• Flexible meeting and workspaces
• Hot beverages and snacks available for purchase
The café is open for use from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
This is a great space, designed specifically for co-working particularly for those working on start-up businesses who want to enjoy the ability to collaborate with others or simply be surrounded by like minds and encouragement.
The only real downside to the ICM’s co-working café is that it is located in the heart of the university campus, incorrectly giving many the sense that the ICM and its café are off-limits to non-students, which is not actually the case.
The Dock is a multipurpose workspace location. It does primarily focus on offering specific office spaces of varying sizes along with meeting rooms and a variety of services, such as managed telephone and internet services, which are not really suited to those in the early think-tank stages of a new business idea.
However, that said, they do also have a Startup Lounge, which is their space specifically designed for those wishing to work in a co-working or shared workspace. Their Startup Lounge includes:
• Very fast Wi-Fi
• Numerous independent work stations
• Comfortable seating throughout
• Printing facilities
• Meeting rooms at a discounted rate
• 24/7 access
Additionally, those using the Startup Lounge also qualify to use Dock’s Business Growth resources, which includes 1-2-1 business coaching, marketing strategy, financial planning and more.
Though Dock is much more than just a co-working space, that is a part of what makes it an ideal location to start. For those who have a new business idea, they can get started there with the support offered by the Business Growth resources, and once they are off the ground and ready for more formal office space and resources, they can upgrade their membership and rent out their own office.
3. LCB Depot
The LCB (Leicester Creative Business) Depot is creatively designed to be a think tank and bed of inspiration for those in creative lines of business endeavours. New ventures in everything from fashion designing, architecture, copywriting, music production and much more are birthed here on a regular basis.
In some ways similar to DMU’s Innovation Center, LCB combines workspaces for individuals and groups with meeting rooms, resources, business lounge, and its own coffee shop, Gray’s Café.
Unlike the Innovation Centre, though, it is not free. LCB does not officially advertise itself as a co-working environment, as its emphasis is on its multiple workspace options that can be purchased for individuals or groups. However, if you purchase their Business Lounge Membership, you gain access to their business lounge with:
• Comfortable seating, tables and chairs
• 24/7 access
• Internal use phone
• Onsite, lockable storage
The café, too, can work as a shared workspace with its free Wi-Fi and primarily LCB members.
Again, while its focus is not on providing a co-working atmosphere specifically, it provides the opportunity for it for very creative and innovative minds. Another perk is that members can also acquire a postal address by being a member.
Really, the only downside to LCB Depot is that it is geared more towards those who are already underway with their business and its expense, but it still offers great opportunities for those in the birthing stage of their business ideas.
Phoenix Square is a relative, so to speak, of LCB Depot, run by the same overarching organisation. It is a smaller location than LCB, with 29 workspaces available for rent as either shared or individual workspaces.
Those choosing to use the Phoenix Square location still get:
• Free Wi-Fi
• Their own Phoenix business lounge
• Postal address services
• 24/7 access all year long
In addition, it has more short-term lease options.
5. Makers’ Yard
The final and smallest relative to LCB Depot and Phoenix is the Makers’ Yard. The opportunities at Makers’ Yard are similar to the previous two:
• Ability to rent shared or individual studio spaces with 24/7 365 access
• Flexible leasing terms
• The same business support as the previous two
Those using the Makers’ Yard location also get the privilege of LCB’s parcel delivery service, printing/copying and meeting rooms at a discounted rate.
6. Friars Mill
The final one we will mention is a bit more formal than the others, though its goal is still to provide a creative and innovative atmosphere for young businesses.
Friars Mill is a complex of 200+-year-old re-purposed factory buildings with single and two-story office options and others. It has its own café overlooking the River Soar, meeting rooms, and provides fully managed office services to its tenants, including reception.
While not really providing a co-working space in its truest form, the Friars Mill complex creates an inviting and creative, collaborative work environment of like minds in the same stage of growing their recently birthed businesses up to maturity, while still keeping the running of an office extremely simple with the fully managed services provided.
So What Are The Benefits Of Co-working in Leicester?
1. Networking and collaborating
Co-working gives entrepreneurs and SME’s the opportunity to network and collaborate with a wide range of bright minds. You might even make new friends in the process. Proximity gives you the chance to “pick the brains” of professionals in your own line of work as well as those in related fields. Freelance writers might choose to office with graphic designers, website designers, programmers and other writers whose work and insights help shape new perspectives.
2. Working at your own pace
Co-working makes it possible for you to create some space between you and your clients. Stop devoting hours to the same interruptions and distractions that normally waste your time. Why not work in a new environment, surrounded by new people and new stimuli? Co-working can be a respite from day-to-day workplace worries about strict deadlines or clients trying to reach you at your primary location.
3. Avoiding loneliness
Working at home can have an isolating effect after a period of time. While businesses have had no option but to close down offices to allow employees to work from home from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, more of us are beginning to feel a sense of isolation and loneliness. Coworking is an easy fix. Working amidst others can lend a sense of camaraderie, even when you’re creating alongside complete strangers.