Posted on Mon 09 December 2013

Comparing co-working spaces in Melbourne

This post is long overdue. When I joined Buffer earlier this year I did some "co-working space shopping" around inner Melbourne to find a place I'd like to rent a space in.

There are many more co-working spaces available, but I tried a few of the more well-known ones in the CBD and inner suburbs. Here's a collection of my thoughts on the benefits of each one that might help if you're looking to choose one for yourself.

Having said that, I'd definitely suggest trying them out. As they say, your mileage may vary. Most of these places are happy for you to drop in and work for a day or two to get a feel for it before you sign up for a permanent desk.

Inspire9

This is the office I ended up in. I also moved house during my shopping adventure so I now live barely a 10-minute walk from Inspire9, which definitely influenced my decision.

Apart from being right near my house, Inspire9 has some other great things going for it. One of the biggest draw cards for me was the collection of people here. Not only did I already know some of them, I generally find that the feeling of Inspire9 is very open and friendly. Because I work remotely for Buffer, social interaction is something I look for in a co-working space (in fact, it's the biggest reason I rent a permanent desk there at all), so this is important for me.

The other thing I like most about Inspire9 is the space itself. It's a converted warehouse so it's a big, open space and it has heaps of natural light. This makes it a really comfortable space to be in during the day.

York Butter Factory

YBF is in the heart of the city, in a really convenient spot. There's coffee and a bunch of lunch options all around, and it's right near Southern Cross Station and Collins St trams.

YBF is a great option when you need a reliable office to work from, since you can get 24 hour access and the wifi is fast and stable.

Probably the thing I liked most about YBF was Jason, the excellent community manager. Jason is always available and so helpful in getting you set up in the space and helping you find whatever you need. Every co-working space needs a Jason.

Hub Melbourne

Hub Melbourne is very startup-focused, just like Inspire 9 and YBF, but it's also packed full. They only had a couple of places available when I had a tour, so it's a tricky one to get into.

Hub is right in the city as well, even closer to Southern Cross Station than YBF is. It has a huge kitchen that gives it a real shared house feel.

Hub also has a quiet room which is probably my favourite part. When I first walked into Hub, I was overwhelmed by the noise—it's a very social, buzzing place to work. The quiet room is a bit like working in a library. You can choose (if they have the space) to rent a desk in the main area or in the quiet room if that suits your work better.

They also have a couple of nifty quiet pods in the hallway. These are sound proof, so you can jump in and have a Skype call without disturbing people around you.

The Cluster

The Cluster was the one place I visited that wasn't focused on startups so much, but more on established businesses and freelancers. It almost felt like being in a "grown-up" office, as opposed to the games room feel of startup offices full of table tennis tables and pinball machines.

Probably for this reason, I did find The Cluster to be really organised. There was no question about what was going on at any time, since everyone knew their roles and looked after what they were supposed to. It was nice to know things would run smoothly here.

I also loved the community at The Cluster. Everyone I met when I dropped in for a day was friendly and interesting to talk to. That's what I was looking for in a co-working space, so this one gets props for being social and friendly.

Electron Workshop

Before I moved to the Eastern side of the city, Electron Workshop was much more convenient—it's in North Melbourne, one of my favourite melbourne suburbs.

It's another converted warehouse, this one on a quiet, leafy street just a walk from all the great cafés on Errol St.

This was probably the quietest, cosiest office space I tried, with only a small group of people around the day I visited. If a quiet space is what you're after, definitely give this one a look-in.

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