Finding a coworking space in Sydney

I recently joined the Crew team as a designer. Crew are based in Canada, I live in Sydney, so not only was I starting a new job but I’d be starting my first foray into being a remote employee. A different experience for me after becoming accustomed to a huge space in the heart of Sydney for the past couple of years.

For some, working from home is the only way to go in this situation and there are plenty of positives to this scenario (subjective as they may be). However, for me this wasn’t possible as I simply don’t have the space to do so (damn you, Sydney rental market!). Add in the fact that I also want a bit of separation between work and home, this ruled out any sort of home office scenario.

I could see myself not being a huge fan of bouncing around to different cafés or various public spaces for an extended period of time either. While I do enjoy mixing it up every so often, I prefer having a place/space that I can call my own — having somewhere to make a mess and leave in whatever state I like without having to pack it in for the day. At least until I’ve settled into this whole remote work thing.

A coworking space is the option for me.

As I looked into it though, my initial thoughts on what a coworking space is didn’t quite match up with a lot of places I found; especially for my situation; being an employee of a company working remote, not a freelancer looking for a network.

There seemed to be three loose types of coworking spaces around Sydney that I found…

Agency renting desks

There are plenty of agencies offering up a vacant desk and chair within their office for a fee. I can only imagine office space in Sydney is expensive if the housing market is anything to go by (Damn you, Sydney housing market!). Some will offer perks, like snacks and use of their agency equipment, while others might offer less, like a desk but no chair (I thought that seemed a bit strange?).

While there were definitely some cool spaces around, I found that for the price they were asking I didn’t quite get the value I was looking for… there’s also the possibility that you’d be a big loner as you’re the only non-agency “outsider” in the office.

Image from Creative Spaces

You can hunt for yourself and maybe grab a good deal here: http://www.creativespaces.net.au/

Incubator type spaces

There are a few of these around Sydney. Perfect for early-stage startups looking for as much help as they can get but not so great for one remote employee of an overseas company (although probably still considered a start-up).

There are also a couple of hybrid spaces that are not incubators per se but encourage people to work on projects together, bring ideas to the table and work with the different resources in the space. Again, not so great for an employee of a company (unless you’re a workaholic and willing to take projects after hours) but potentially great for freelancers who want to load up on projects.

Image from Fresh Digital Egg

To me, these appeared to be spaces like Hub, Fishburners or Desk Space.

Coworking spaces

These are dedicated coworking spaces — that is their business, and more what I had in mind what I first thought “coworking space”. Separate companies and people, doing their own work (with the possibility of collaboration, if that’s your thing, but nothing forced).

This is what I was looking for — my own desk in small office within a larger shared space of people or businesses doing their own work. I wanted some interaction throughout the day (so I wasn’t talking to myself 8 hours a day, 5 days a week); just a friendly “hello” or “how was your weekend?”, nothing too committal, so that I can get down to business when I need to, distraction free.

Image from Spaces

I found a few spots like this. Spaces (where I ended up), WeWork and Gravity.

Before I was a remote employee, I thought all coworking spaces were the same. But they’re not. They’ve all got their angle and it’s worth thinking about what kind of coworking space is for you (if any at all) before diving in head first.

A few more things

There are a few smaller things that might be worth considering so that you are really happy with the space you choose too — similar things that you might consider when looking for an apartment or house, and these will be varying degrees of importance based on the individual.

  • Natural light, and if it’ll effect you or your work at different times of the day,
  • think about the temperature of the room or the shared space,
  • fresh air. Can you get it?
  • Consider the surrounding noise in the office or the larger space and whether you can work in those conditions,
  • amenities such as bathrooms and kitchenettes. Are they big enough for the number of people? Is it a mission to get to them? Are they clean / nice / to your standard?
  • Is the coworking space close enough for the commute to not be a hassle (d’uh)?
  • Think about convenience of surrounding things too. Such as proximity to a supermarket, bars or cafes etc to break out during the day, after work or on your way home.

While these aren’t the be-all-and-end-all of things to look for, they are some of the things I added to my list the more spaces I looked at. This, ultimately, made choosing a space easier.

Working remote is a new experience for me, and finding a coworking space was one of the biggest challenges… that and getting paid (which I’ll get to later), but there aren’t a lot of resources for remote work in Sydney so I wanted to share what I’d found. I’d love to hear about your experiences and findings too, however different or similar they may be.