Co-working spaces are very trendy right now, with the ‘space for hire’ concept taking off not only across the world but in Australia’s capital cities.
But co-working offices are more than just renting desk space.
They’ve evolved into like-minded communities and little ecosystems, a place where startups can establish connections, build networks and grow without the overheads that come with traditional office space.
Many co-working spaces are vast open-plan set ups, and it’s a safe bet you will find a ping-pong table in the majority of them. But different set-ups will work better for different professionals.
Speaking to co-working space regular and startup entrepreneur Kevin Jochelson, he said deciding which co-working space to set-up shop in depends on the other types of startups that are using the facilities, its proximity to home, the cost and any extras — some offer mentoring programs, networking events and training sessions.
Here are 10 of Australia’s best (un-ranked) co-working set-ups.
TSL has 29 startups and 129 entrepreneurs spread across its two floors and is looking at expanding onto a third level.
To date about $19 million has been raised among the startups at TSL.
The co-working space’s investment manager Rui Rodrigues told Business Insider the growth of startups and co-working spaces is being helped along by success stories like Atlassian and Freelancer who provide inspiration for people in traditional roles to get out there and do something on their own.
'The examples and the success stories that we’re seeing in Australia is attracting people to leave their jobs and start a company,' he said. 'It’s almost a trendy thing now-a-days,' he said.
There's more on TSL's startup investment strategy here.
Fishburners has two spaces, one in Sydney's design hub Ultimo and another in Darlinghurst.
The co-working space and startup incubator hosts over 200 entrepreneurs from about 100 tech startups. Some of the startups working out of Fishburners include
collaborative consumption site JayRide and education startup General Assembly.
Apart from supplying members with desks, internet and meeting rooms, Fishburners also puts on regular networking events and education sessions.
Fishburners is one of the bigger tech co-working hubs in Australia and are set up as a not-for-profit institution which allows them to reduce desk space costs.
Based in Darlinghurst, Hub Sydney is a growing co-working community.
The space is bright, industrial and airy, it has the cliche ping pong table and Astroturf rugs but manages to pull in some big names for its learning events with Survey Monkey CEO David Goldberg speaking at Hub Sydney just last month.
Founder Brad Krauskopf said co-working and collaboration is going to transform Australia's economy by creating economies of scale for freelancers and small companies.
'If Australia is able to increase its collaborative capacity it would be able to boost its productivity,' he said.
'If the freelance economy is really fragmented then it can't deliver those services like a big company.
'When you've got a space like this you create opportunities for learning, for collaboration.'
The space also has three full time staff onsite who are there to connect members and create an energetic vibe steeped in equality.
'It's amazing what happens when you don't bring your position title to work,' Krauskopf said.
Hub also has co-working spaces in Melbourne and Adelaide.
Positioned as a co-working space for early stage tech startups based in Melbourne, York Butter Factory was opened in October 2011.
The heritage building has over 50 startups in residence, many of which are consumer tech ideas.
Spread across two floors, York Butter residents go through about 13 kilograms of coffee every month with the barista grade coffee machine which is onsite.
York Butter was co-founded by the partners of Adventure Capital who also run their venture capital fund out of the building.
'Each co-working space has a different niche,' York Butter manager Jason Lim said.
'Having a company in the space also gives you better access to funding and mentoring opportunities.'
He explained York Butter has a tough love culture but has managed to build a community of like-minded people.
There's also a Nintendo 64 for Mario Cart racing and weekly show and tell sessions with beer and cider supplied.
A startup and freelancer co-working space Inspire9 is located in Melbourne's inner city suburb of Richmond.
In the same building as 99Designs and Eventbrite, Inspire9 is home to about 70 permanent residents including startups like Adioso, Attendly, rome2rio and Tablo.
Reminiscent of a renovated New York style warehouse the co-working space has a free drop-in policy, whiteboard walls for mass brainstorming sessions, a ping pong table, and a pretty impressive ball pit.
The co-working community also hosts regular tech and lean startup events as well as weekly Friday night drinks and has been a big supporter of women in tech hosting the first She Hacks, Startup Weekend Women and the Girl Geek Dinners Meetup Group.
A collaborative workspace in Ultimo, Sydney, VibeWire's innovation lab is a place for young people to develop ideas.
Founded in 2007, it was one of the first co-working spaces in the country and hosts an eclectic a mix of creatives, entrepreneurs and tech types.
With up to 15 businesses based in the space at any given time it is one of the smaller hubs but is very focussed on social and community minded ideas.
A tech focussed co-working space on Sydney's North Shore, StartNest is an open plan office space for startups.
With clean, modern design the co-working space was opened in 2013 and is home to an eclectic bunch of developers, startups and small businesses, it even has a garden themed meeting room complete with Astroturf and mushroom stools.
The co-working space hosts fortnightly meetups and has attracted the likes of Freelancer CEO Matt Barrie in the past and also has Dr. Catriona Wallace, the founder of Flamingo, due to speak shortly.
Located in Ultimo, WorkBench is a space where business people, creatives and freelancers can get stuff done.
On the second floor of a revamped warehouse space, the co-working office is fitted out with a statement red workbench which runs the length of the room.
It also has a mix of standup desks, beanbags and sofas as well as a retro video game arcade table and personal bike parking beside each desk.
Located in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, River City Labs is one of the city's few co-working spaces.
The space has all the usual facilities including fast internet, meeting rooms and as much coffee as you can drink but what puts River City on the list are the regular networking events and mentoring opportunities it offers to the Queensland startup community.
It also has three sound proof meeting rooms, one of them is even painted to look like a blue Tardis phone box.