Can anyone recommend a co-working space?

I’ve decided to try hiring a hot desk or permanent desk in a co-working space, to see if the urge to make the most of a service that I’m paying for will help me to maintain the motivation to work. Plexal in Here East sounds promising, as it seems to have a strong sense of community, they do events, and it’s a 15 min bike ride away, so I’ve signed up for a one-week free trial. Does anyone know of any good alternatives that also have a strong sense of community? The closer to Forest Gate or Stratford, the better.

I don’t have any specific recommendations for that area, unfortunately. I might suggest you check out AndCo, though. For a fixed monthly fee, you get access to a network of coworking spaces, which might suit you better if you prefer variety in your working environments:

Oh interesting, I hadn’t heard of them, thanks! I need to work out if simply having access to quiet environments away from home will provide enough motivation, or if I need to feel the money draining out of my account. If it’s the latter, then I’m not sure if £20/month will provide enough motivation. I’m a cheapskate though, so it might!

I’ve tried working by canals on sunny days many times before. The lack of wi-fi access is a helpful way to reduce distractions, but finding the motivation to leave early enough to get a full day’s work done is still a challenge. So again, feeling the money draining might help with this.

I understand. I have a free co-working space right in my estate and when I moved in I told myself it would be nice to have to the option to get out of the house, but I got my home office set up the way I want and I’ve never used it since, except for the odd meeting. :sweat_smile:

Hahaha! I hope you find it easier to focus in your home office than I do in mine. Mine is my bedroom, and the transition from working to not working just involves closing VS Code and opening a video streaming site, which probably isn’t helping psychologically either.

Unfortunately, I have the same setup and the same challenges with staying focussed. Lol! I know a physical change of space would help with that, but then I’d have to give up my ergonomic chair, standing desk, external monitor, etc :sweat_smile:

:joy: Well I’ll let you know if paying for a co-working space does make a significant difference for me.

1 Like

I can’t yet answer my own question about what co-working space to pick near Stratford, but I can now say which one to avoid at all costs: see my Workinc review.

Yikes. That was pretty shabby! :grimacing:

So it looks like I don’t need to pay for a co-working space to improve my productivity after all – I just need to work away from home. The first piece of evidence is that I was consistently productive while working in co-working spaces and libraries every week day from 9th Jan to 14th Feb. E.g. I finished deriving and implementing a difficult test that I’d been struggling to motivate myself to complete for months. But I wasn’t sure if this was just a temporary effect of feeling refreshed after having a few weeks off over Christmas. Clarity came over the next few weeks, as a result of my laptop breaking and John Lewis taking ages to repair it (it’s been almost four weeks and they still haven’t returned it). I tried working from home again for the first two weeks after it broke, and my productivity plummeted. So I borrowed a laptop from a friend and went back to working in libraries, and my productivity improved again. Case closed!

For me, the only downside of working away from home is that it’s hard to find spaces that are always quiet. It tends to be less difficult to find a quiet area in big spaces, like the Plexal co-working space, but even then, you can’t always avoid the noise. I tried the Yonder co-working space too, but unfortunately it’s small and doesn’t have enough call booths, so people end up doing long video calls at their desks. I am getting better at working in noisy environments, but some kinds of work demand more focus than others.

I was disappointed to find out that public libraries, for the most part, are no longer treated as the quiet spaces that they used to be. E.g.:

  • Forest Gate library hosts an aerobics class;
  • Stratford library seems to be large enough for its study area to be quiet most of the time, but the study area surrounds a visa/citizenship application centre, and the last time I was there, someone brought a baby that wouldn’t stop crying to the application centre;
  • East Ham and Canada Water libraries do loud classes for primary school kids that are very audible from their study areas;
  • Some people think it’s ok to take phone calls or talk in the designated quiet study areas of all of these libraries. Staff try to enforce quietness sometimes, but they’re often ignored. Worse still, in some places, the staff are the ones doing the most talking in the quiet study areas! :man_facepalming:t5:

The Barbican library has a secluded workspace where people don’t seem to talk (although the first time I went, some guy was trying to deafen himself by listening to opera through headphones at a volume that everyone else could hear), but it closes at 5.30pm on Mon, Weds and Fri, and I’m yet to master the art of leaving home before 11am. The study area in Redbridge Central library is big enough, and far enough from the other parts of the library, that it seems like it might be quiet most of the time too, and it’s open till 8pm every day.

I haven’t tried The British Library, but if I were to go there regularly, I’d be more inclined to take the tube than cycle, and at that point I might as well just take the tube all the way to my old university library, which is truly quiet.