Working from home might seem like the dream, but it can actually be incredibly difficult.
Distractions are everywhere. Doing a load of washing suddenly becomes much more appealing than chasing invoices, and when Netflix is right there in front of us, it’s far too tempting to say “just one more episode”.
The alternative can be expensive, though.
Renting an office is just not an option for most freelancers and small businesses, particularly if they’re just starting out. This is especially true in a city as expensive as London.
Luckily, there’s a much cheaper solution - free workspaces.
The capital is littered with laptop-friendly cafes, libraries, and art galleries that provide unique and distraction-free spaces for you to set up shop for the day.
If you’re ready to try out a free workspace, we’ve lined up some top picks for you.
The British Library has no less than 11 Reading Rooms, where visitors can go to buff up on the many different collections. Accessing these rooms is free, but you need a pass. Alternatively, you can pitch yourself in any of the public areas to work without a pass.
Address: 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB
Opening times: Mon-thurs 9.30am-8pm, Fri 9.30am-6pm, Sat 9.30am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm
Combine high-speed internet and plenty of plug sockets with artisan coffee and cakes and you get The Coffice, a cafe that’s been especially designed for laptop-wielding workers. The creative atmosphere draws in freelancers from all around, bringing a collaborative energy to the mix.
Address: 163 City Rd, Hoxton, London EC1V 1NR
Opening times: Mon-fri 8am-5.30pm
Hotel lobbies have long been places for business people to shoot off a few emails, and the ACE Hotel carries on this tradition. The buzzing lobby is split up into zones, making it feel more like a cosy office space. Its Shoreditch location attracts tons of creative types, so grab a drink and make good use of the free WiFi.
Address: 100 Shoreditch High St, Hackney, London E1 6JQ
Opening times: 24 hours
News has spread that The Hoxton has tapped into the co-working market. Its new venture, dubbed “Working From_”, has 744 desks across seven floors, with extras like cheap hotel rooms for those trying to smash a deadline. However, if you want to keep your spending down, The Hoxton’s lobby remains one of the most popular unofficial (and free) office spaces in London.
Address: 81 Great Eastern St, Hackney, London EC2A 3HU
Opening times: 24 hours
This isn’t a workspace; instead, it’s a website that lists out a number of free, laptop-friendly venues across the city. It includes places like Point A, a boutique hotel with a secret garden space, table tennis, and a free hot drink per booking, 33 Abbeville Road, a bright and airy space that offers 20% off food and drink for co-workers, Husk Coffee and Creative Space, and JOVA.
Performing arts venue The Barbican is a firm favourite amongst freelancers. The cafe provides a bustling place to get stuff done, while the library offers a quieter space for those who need to concentrate. The best part is, if you need a break, you can wander around the installations to spark some inspiration.
Address: Silk St, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DS
Opening times: Mon-Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 11am-11pm
Culture vultures will love using the Southbank Centre as a backdrop for sending emails and working through their to-do lists. Set up shop in the cafe for a vibrant workplace or head to the National Poetry Library if you want some peace and quiet.
Address: Belvedere Road, London, SE1
Opening times: Every day 10am-11pm
Surround yourself with inspiration and some of the most iconic masterpieces in the country at the Tate Modern. Not only does the venue provide stunning views of the city to keep your creative juices flowing, but there is a bustling cafe and bar to relax in and get some work done.
Address: Tate Modern Bankside London SE1 9TG
Opening times: Sun-Thurs 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm
Get comfortable in the bright, modern Reading Room at the Wellcome Collection. It’s both a library and a museum, providing a quiet space for workers who need to get their heads down. The on-site cafe is also great for grabbing a bite to eat with your laptop.
Address: 183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE
Opening times: Fri-Sun 10am-6pm, Mon closed, Tue-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs 10am-9pm
Google’s Campus in London is a workspace that has been specifically designed to welcome entrepreneurs. Its collaborative, creative atmosphere provides a strong sense of community, plus the roster of workshops and events means you can constantly feed your brain. Not surprisingly, it can get busy, so make sure you get there early to grab a seat.
Address: 4-5 Bonhill St, Shoreditch, London EC2A 4BX
Opening times: Mon-Fri 9am-8pm
Camden Collective is open all hours of the day and night, so even night owls can power on through their to-do list. The space is run by Collective, a charity that flips abandoned buildings and turns them into creative places to work. Setting up shop there is free, but the team asks that members spend two hours a month contributing to the growth of the charity.
Address: Auction Rooms, 5-7 Buck St, Camden Town, London NW1 8NJ
Opening times: 24 hours
Even getting out of your house just one or two days a week can make all the difference to your productivity and creativity levels. We know that investing in an office space isn’t on the cards for many small businesses, which is why these free spots around London are the perfect solution.
For the price of a coffee, you can access some of the most iconic venues in the city, tap into high-speed WiFi, and get your creative juices flowing away from the distractions of your home.