STOP. Collaborate and listen: Manchester’s Best Co-Working Spaces Revealed
Written by Keith Andrew
The growing trend for people to ditch the traditional office and, instead, take a punt on self employment is something we’ve covered on these pages before, but Manchester’s roaming workforce – eager for a flat surface to call their own – have more than just coffee shops at their disposal.
Related Article: The 7 Best Coffee Shops In Manchester For Laptop Warriors
Alongside these cathedrals of caffeine are a series of thriving co-working spaces; offices open to all (for a fee, of course) typically equipped with high-speed internet, desk space galore, and operating as a hub where people can network and make connections vital to their respective businesses that they may not have made otherwise.
Oh, and they usually have tea and biscuits on offer, too. Never underestimate the power of tea and biscuits.
The problem is, there are now so many co-working spaces dotted across the city centre that we’re almost spoiled for choice. Only right and proper, then, that as a company that has benefited from such spaces, we’d give you in the inside line on the best this city has to offer. Bear with us – there are quite a few to get through.
OGS Works @ Old Granada Studios
Quay Street, St. John’s Quarter
Alongside from football, music, science, and of course industry, Manchester’s impact on the media is a major feather in its cap. As its name suggests, Old Granada Studios sits in the midst of the corridors and hallways that brought us the likes of Countdown, The Jeremy Kyle Show and, of course, the world’s longest running drama Coronation Street.
Having stood since 1961, a sense of history appears to be built into the very structure. The old TV hub now serves as a diverse home for Old Granada Studios, or OGS for short, which offers desk space under the OGS Works brand.
In terms of facilities, it’s hard to beat OGS Works. Members not only gain access to desk space and high-speed wifi, but also meeting rooms, music studios, event space and free beer and pizza on a Friday, all for a competitive rate. There’s a genuine sense of progression on offer too, with members able to graduate up from desk space to a shared or solo office elsewhere in the building as their business grows.
It also sits directly opposite Manchester’s vibrant business and finance district Spinningfields, with many start ups using OGS as a funnel; renting desk space to get started and then moving into office space just across the street when money starts flowing. OGS is very much a place of ambition, and the perfect base for those looking to reach lofty heights – and, with residents including success stories such as Shindigger, OGS Work has a proven track record.
The Sharp Project
Thorp Road, Newton Heath
Not every freelancer on the planet can make do with just a laptop at their disposal. For those who need a little bit more than desk space – say, sound stages, studios, or general production space – The Sharp Project is manna from heaven.
Located in a 200,000 square foot refurbished warehouse originally built by electronic giant Sharp, The Sharp Project sits just 10 miles east of the city centre but, in recent years, has become a media hub all of its own. Digital agencies, TV and film production houses have all called The Sharp Project home at some point or other, and the base is also something of a hive for games development studios.
In short, it offers something entirely different to all the other hubs on our list, and is the ideal facility for anyone working within the media.
Lever Street, Northern Quarter
Nestled in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, you’d be hard pressed to find a more fitting co-working space for what is the city’s creative epicentre, aptly sat atop one of the city’s most affluent and beloved bars PLY. It also features a rooftop garden, no less. Yes, that’s a rooftop garden in rainy, rainy Manchester. Make sure you take your umbrella.
It’s fair to say Spaceport X is the most relaxed of the work spaces on our list, with a sense of community amongst its members high on the agenda. As a result, collaboration amongst members is as rife as the diversity of the businesses they operate it; local telecommunications giant Telcom is based here, as well as individual writers, artists, developers and other bastions of the creative industries.
The fact Spaceport X also doubles as a free event space, hosting nights that bring all manner of fresh talent into the venue. If you like meeting new people, if you like co-operating with fresh folk, Spaceport X is the meeting of the minds that may be the ideal fit for you.
Central Working @ Rise Manchester
Remember when we said one of the best places to get coffee in Manchester was Grindsmith, right? On the back of the Deansgate branch sits a rather interesting venture designed to get Manchester’s most promising startups off the ground.
Rise – created in partnership with Barclays – is a business escalator designed to foster growth within small to medium sized businesses based in the city. As part of that goal, Rise set up Central Working, which offers co-working space and facilities for Manchester’s up-and-comers right in the city centre. Like Spaceport, it also plays host to scores of networking events, with big hitters from London often making the trip to Rise for presentations and the like.
As a result, Central Working is flooded with activity; whether creatives stopping for coffee at the front of house or investors dropping in for meetings in the back – if you’re looking to make important connections, Central Working is a great place to get spotted.
Edge Street, Northern Quarter
Those already au fait with co-working spaces in Manchester may not have considered popping by MadLab. Hidden away on Edge Street, MadLab (or Manchester’s Digital Laboratory, if you prefer) has become best known for hosting workshops and courses focused on creative innovation.
However, it also offers co-working space open 24/7 with social events and discounted room hire being thrown into the bargain. Recently refitted, MadLab has become as much of mainstay of Manchester’s Northern Quarter as some of its most refined coffee shops and bars, pitching itself as a venue for “showcasing and sharing ideas” with like-minded folk.
A little off the wall and as “mad” as its name suggests, MadLab isn’t your average
co-working space. Best for those who like to do things differently, we’d say.
Jersey Street, Ancoats
It stands to reason that, given Manchester was the heart of the industrial revolution, there are beautiful Victorian factories, mills and warehouses aplenty scattered across the city ripe for redevelopment. One such building now plays home to Beehive Lofts, which is arguably the most striking co-working space on our list in terms of its working environment.
Like all co-working spaces in Manchester, Beehive is built around the premise of bringing people together who may be able to share expertise, contacts, or even work together for the benefit of both busineses. It’s why events are commonplace at Beehive, ensuring its space more than just a swish desk to play home to your laptop.
Building upon this, Beehive boasts a “break out area”, equipped with sofa, hammocks, pool tables and a 220 inch cinema screen, all pitched to ensure residents are as comfortable at work as they are at home. If you’re looking for a new co-working spot, we’d recommend a physical visit to Beehive Lofts – words cannot do its environment justice.
Great Ancoats Street, Ancoats
“We had such a great time working in a co working space previously, we wanted to do it ourselves,” offer the folk behind The Assembly. Yet another co-working space in the city centre was born as a result, this one basing itself in Manchester’s up-and-coming Ancoats.
The Assembly has a focus on collaboration between its tenants, as well as offering stylish work space packed full of talent. Indeed, the possibility of running into people you may end up working with in the future is a big draw for all co-working spaces, and The Assembly appears to have placed such goals from and centre of its proposition.
One of The Assembly’s most promoted features (and one mirrored by other co-working spaces in our list) is the ability to bring in guests for set hours to work alongside you, helping you tap into other people’s potential on whatever project you’re working on as well as your own. As any successful self-employed mogul will tell you, no man is an island.
These are just a slice of the co-working space Manchester currently has to offer, and you can be sure within weeks of this going to press more will have sprung up to rival them. It’s no great coincidence, either; cities rely on communication and collaboration, and Manchester’s penchant for creativity means the city’s work spaces are the perfect place for people’s talent and ability to come together.
If you’re a sole trader or a small, fledgling business currently making do with working from home or the odd coffee shop, give some time and consideration for what a shared space can do for your reach, your drive, and your bank balance in the months and years ahead. A small outgoing each month could lead to riches aplenty in the future.