The best free office spaces in the UK

By Dan Barraclough

We’ve rounded up the best free ‘office spaces’ in London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol


Okay, we’ll admit it – we’ve played it fast and loose with the term ‘office space’.

There are some free office spaces included here, but we’ve also thrown in a selection of the best libraries, and quiet cafes with supersonic wifi.

As a business owner or freelancer without an office space, it pays to have a selection of good spots under your belt. Somewhere you can get complete silence when concentration is key, and somewhere with more of a buzz for when you’re trying to be creative.

Of course, building up to renting your own office, or a desk in an office, is the ideal. And we bet it’s not nearly as expensive as you think. Check out our guide to renting a desk for more info.


What’s on this page?


London

Hangar 58 London


Hangar 58

Runway East is a coworking space located in East London, and Hangar 58 is their free coworking cafe space. That’s right, a cafe that actually encourages you to work there all day.

No more dragging out your flat white over three hours! No more plug socket struggles!

Hangar 58 is a great place to hang out with other startup founders, and they regularly hold evening events designed to help you learn and grow.

You need to apply for a membership, though, and understandably it’s pretty popular – so get in quick!

Location: Old Street


Google Campus

Working at Google? For free?!

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it. But it isn’t! Simply register by filling in a short online form, then attending an orientation session (held on Mondays). This will get you access to the coworking campus cafe, and lots of free events to help you get up and running.

Ambitious startups should seriously consider applying for the Campus Residency program, too. It’s a four month program for startups in the growth stage. This will give you access to a more private workspace, advice from Google’s own experts, and help with raising capital – all completely free.

Location: Shoreditch


The British Library

Public libraries are great places to work for obvious reasons – they’re free, and they’re quiet – but you’d be hard pushed to find a more impressive workspace than the British Library.

In fact, it’s the largest national library in the world. Not only does it offer access to more resources than anywhere else, the British Library also offers extra support to budding businesses in the form of advice clinics, workshops and events (many of which are free).

Just make sure you pack an extra jumper as the reading rooms can get a bit chilly!

NB. If Kings Cross is a bit out of your way, there are tons of other free public libraries dotted around London.

Location: Kings Cross


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Manchester

Manchester central library

Manchester Central Library

Libraries are great community resources, and the perfect place to get your head down for a few quiet hours of work.

Manchester’s Central Library is no exception: a beautiful listed building in the city centre. Not only is it a peaceful place to concentrate, the library’s Business and Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC) is the ideal resource to bring your ideas to life.

Through the centre you’ll get free access to business publications, expert advice, workshops and networking events. You can also chat online with qualified business advisors about patents, trademarks and copyright.

Pop down and check it out – there’s definitely something for everyone.

Location: St Peter’s Square


Ziferblat

Picture the scene: you’ve got an important deadline looming, but you’re at home and you’re distracted. Is this the time to rearrange your sock drawer? To dust the top of the fridge?

Grab your coat, and get yourself to Ziferblat: a communal space where every minute counts. Literally.

You see, at Ziferblat everything is free inside; except for the time you spend. You pay per 8p for every minute you stay, and get to enjoy unlimited cake, coffee, fruit and toast while you’re there. The amount you pay is capped at four hours (£19.20), but you can spend the whole day there.

Ziferblat want you to treat their space like your own home. That means you can bring your own food (and heat it up in their microwave), but you’re also expected to do your own washing up.

Trust us – there’s nothing like paying per minute to get your productivity back on track!

Location: Northern Quarter and Salford


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Leeds

Belgrave in Leeds

Belgrave

They say in life, there are two choices: work while eating a pizza slice, and work while not eating a pizza slice. Here at Expert Market, we’re all about that first option.

That’s (one of the many reasons) why we love Belgrave: a legendary Leeds spot that’s part bar and part cafe with – you guessed it – an in-house Dough Boys stand seving sensational pizza slices every day of the week. And they’re half price until 7pm during the week, and 5pm at the weekend!

But okay, enough about the pizza. Belgrave is a great place to work in the day because it’s huge, but has managed to retain great vibes. It’s laid-back, has fast wifi and a nice variety of seating options to suit your mood. Plus, there’s an awesome roof terrace, so you can go straight from work to play come 5pm.

Location: Merrion Street


Laynes Espresso

Laynes Espresso is just round the corner from Leeds train station, so it’s the perfect place to stop in for a couple of hours of work before or after you take a trip.

Bright and airy, the seats facing out of the huge front window are perfect for people watching. The staff are friendly and they really know their coffee – like, really know their coffee. This is the best spot in Leeds for the perfect brew, and if you’re peckish then the Laynes breakfast is probably the best thing to have ever been put on a plate.

It’s got an open kitchen, so the upstairs can get quite noisy – best head down to the basement if you’re after a quieter spot.

Location: New Station Street


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Birmingham

Boston Tea Party in Birmingham

Boston Tea Party

Boston Tea Party is a small cafe chain that was born in Bristol. Their flagship cafe there is legendary, but their Birmingham branch is pretty special, too.

Located in a ‘grand old building in the heart of the city’, you’d be hard pushed to find a better place to get a few hours of work under your belt. Their large and unpretentious menu will easily see you through the day, and there is enough room on weekdays that you won’t feel under pressure to move on. Plus, their booth tables will make you feel like you have your own private office (kind of).

Location:New Station Street


The Loft Workspace

Okay, so technically the Loft Workspace isn’t free – but with rates starting at just £4 per day (aka the cost of a coffee), it might as well be. What’s more, it’s a really great cause…

Located a little way out of Birmingham city centre in Basall Heath, The Loft Workspace is part of the charity The Jericho Foundation, which helps support local people in finding employment.

The Loft Workspace was born to be more than just an office space – it’s about ‘creating a business community where people can enjoy where they work and who they work with’. They can accommodate hotdeskers and private offices of up to six people, although they’re often (understandably) fully booked.

Location: Basall Heath


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Bristol

Arnolfini in Bristol


Arnolfini – The Front Room

The Arnolfini is Bristol’s arts house, and is ideally located on the picturesque harbourside. As well as being home to exhibitions, talks, a bookshop and cafe, the Arnolfini ‘Front Room’ space is the perfect spot to tackle some work.

Designed to be a ‘flexible space to talk, eat, meet and read’, the Front Room is generally nice and quiet, and also houses the Arnolfini’s art and design books and magazines. It’s managed to achieve a really pleasing blend between a library and a cafe/bar.

Location: Narrow Quay


Natwest Entrepreneurial Spark Bristol

Natwest’s Entrepreneurial Spark scheme is widely considered to be the world’s largest free business accelerator. Successful applicants for their six month scheme will get the advice, connections, free workspace in the RBS building, and access to investors.

Although the scheme typically runs for six months, there’s an option to extend to a year. In 2017 alone, the graduate companies of the scheme turned over nearly £86 million. The scheme runs in several major cities in the UK, including London, so it’s worth checking for one local to you.

Location: Temple Bridge


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Next steps

We hope you enjoy hanging out in these free office spaces. Let us know how you like them, or if we’ve missed any great spots. You can email us at info@expertmarket.co.uk.

If you’re ready to try hotdesking, renting a desk or renting a whole office – let us help you. Fill in this short questionnaire to get quotes tailored to your need. There are some really affordable options out there, and the stability of a fixed location will help take your business to the next level.

Dan Barraclough
Dan Barraclough

Dan’s a writer for Expert Market, specialising in a range of cool topics. He loves web design and all things UX, but also the hardware stuff like postage metres and photocopiers.

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