Sick Of Working From Home? Here Are 10 Of The Best Regional Co-Working Spaces In Australia

The co-working trend is spreading its tentacles out of Australia’s major cities, reaching the outer suburbs and regional hubs.

Caroline McLaren, principal of CoActiv8, told Business Insider there’s more co-working spaces opening up outside the CBD.

“I’ve been keeping track of it and certainly since 2012 it’s been gaining momentum,” she said.

“There are more co-working spaces popping up in regional Australia. The challenge with some of these is that they are, I guess, just getting started, it hasn’t been tested how financially stable they are.”

Two examples of smaller hubs closing doors, it is understood due to financial reasons, are Start House in Newcastle and The Office Collective space in Byron Bay which shut at the end of FY2013.

While they aren’t all as fancy as Australia’s best CBD co-working spaces, they are offering an opportunity for Australia’s regional entrepreneurial community to network and develop ideas.

CoWS Near The Coast, Bega, NSW

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A digital co-working space on the NSW South Coal in Bega Valley, CoWS Near The Coast is relatively small with room for 14 residents.

Opening in March this year, the hub is still in its infancy but has some big goals.

Founder Liam O'Duibhir said opening up CoWS was part of a broader strategy his team is working on - transforming the Sapphire Coast into a tech sector hub.

'We've started to run startup camps and events that will attract entrepreneurs and fashion startups in this region,' he told Business Insider, adding the hub has struck up relationships with Cooma and Canberra and wants to set up a 'tech corridor' from Canberra through to the coast.

Residents include a startup which is creating an open source platform enabling people to track delivery vans around the region using GPS and an app called Phonic Path which is a self guiding tour that uses your phone's location to narrate a journey with relevant facts, history and recommendations.

CoWS Near The Coast also holds regular jousting competitions in the office to celebrate wins - they've even got specially designed sticks and chairs!

'You can pursue your startup with as much rigour as in the cities and the costs are much lower down here,' O’Duibhir said.

NewportNet, Northern Beaches, NSW

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Located about 45 minutes from Sydney's CBD on the Northern Beaches, NewportNet is a bright and fresh space for professionals who don't want to trek into the city everyday.

NewportNet has an optic fibre internet connection up to 100mbs upload / 100mbs download and even has an authorised Mac reseller onsite - features which co-founder Karen Bond said attracts a lot of 'tech heads' to the space.

There are plenty of break out areas, private offices, individual desks and shower facilities in case you want to cross the road and go for a swim in the ocean or run along the beach at lunch.

'We try to keep the whole area as flexible as you can,' Bond said.

Current residents include startup accelerator BlueChilli and online video review app BigReview TV.

Naked Wines also got its start at NewportNet, expanding from three to over 20 staff in about 12 months, Bond said.

'The idea that we do at Newport net is help startups get their start and once they get the ball rolling they go out and get their own offices,' she said.

INNX, Newcastle, NSW

The recently opened INNX co-working space in Newcastle has been set up with fast internet and a variety of different spaces.

With hotdesks, team rooms, classrooms, meeting rooms and studios, there's room for a startup to grow in the one location.

INNX is also hosted, so there's a person on site to look after clients, mail and all that office admin stuff.

Networking, innovation and leadership events are also on the way.

CityHive, Geraldton, WA

Co-working isn't just happening on the east coast - it's also made its way to Australia's western seaboard.

CityHive in Geraldton Western Australia is a mix of casual, permanent and private co-working spaces.

Run by Pollinators, there's a focus on training, networking and collaboration.

Cotopia, Lennox Head, NSW

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Situated in the beachside suburb of Lennox Head on the NSW north coast, Cotopia offers its members 'a chance to be awesome'.

Established a year ago, Cotopia with its 11 desks is quite small compared to its city counterparts.

'We're full at the moment,' Kiri Dicker, Cotopia founder said.

'We're really small, we'd love to grow but there's no space in Lennox that's appropriate.'

Members include marketers, execs working remotely for big companies based in the city, recruiters and graphic designers.

'A lot of people who do web-based work,' Dicker said, adding when the space first opened it attracted a lot of 'mumtrepreneurs' - mothers who are returning to work part time, starting their own small businesses.

She said co-working in the regional centres is just starting to be introduced, adding the cost of commercial real estate and smaller populations has made its growth difficult.

'It took us a year to break even,' she said, adding they stuck it out because, 'I wanted an office and work with like-minded people.'

The Roost, Newcastle, NSW

Roost has been around for about four years, it was launched as part of a council-assisted Newcastle Renew project to bring life back to Hunter Street.

The co-working hub has a mix of architects, graphic and web designers, creative types and even a comic book startup.

'We're all freelancers here, it has been a good starting point for a lot of people,' Karl Bowden, The Roost treasurer said.

'It's an alternative to working from the lounge at home.'

The Roost has space for 25 people and has a mix of casual and permanent residents which use its desk space, meeting rooms and communal lounge.

Bowden said building a network and collaborating with like-minded people are the real benefits of co-working in regional areas.

The Roost hosts classic sci-fi movie nights and board game nights every month.

There's even a communal puzzle in the middle of the room which, Bowden said 'is really good when you just can't stare at the computer any more'.

Startup Cloud, Geelong, Victoria

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Startup Cloud co-working space founder, Todd Hubers, was working out of his garage on a startup idea when a mate returned from London and started telling him about this cool new idea of co-working.

It was the seed that led Hubers to launch Startup Cloud in Victoria's Geelong.

While it's just getting started, the space has 25 desks and members include startups, web developers and graphic designers.

'We didn't get a lot of traction right at the beginning,' he said, adding 'We're looking at having an accelerator program in the next few months and we can help validate ideas as well.'

There are a few hack-a-thons in the works which Hubers hopes will stimulate innovation in the area.

Hubers explained regional co-working in an area like Geelong can reduce the stress and strain commuting can inflict on people.

'Quite a lot of people travel to Melbourne everyday from Geelong and they don't necessarily have to,' he said.

'People are working from home but they're also finding there are a lot of distractions and they're feeling isolated. Co-working is a relief from that isolation.'

Ko-Work, North Lakes, Queensland

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With a mix of individual desks, training rooms and private offices, Ko-Work in Queensland is a bright and airy work space just north of Brisbane.

It has all the standard facilities you would expect in a co-working environment plus an interactive whiteboard for group meetings.

'It's more of a collaborative workspace, where small businesses can share ideas,' founder Kerri Smith said.

There is a number of small businesses and freelancers using Ko-Work to beat the loneliness of working from home and learning how to grow their operations.

Small business events are also in the pipeline.

'What we're wanting to do is help small businesses and we are looking at bringing in guest speakers,' she said.

Ko-Work is a brand new office space which has been purposely designed for collaboration, Smith said, adding it also has the ability to host sensitive meetings with soundproof spaces available.

Corner Table, Wollongong, NSW

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On NSW's south coast, Wollongong's Corner Table is a funky co-working space which can house up to about 20 people.

While it's one of the smaller spaces, it has all the facilities a budding startup needs including a mix of permanent and casual desks, WiFi, meeting rooms and chillout zones.

Redcliffe Hive, Moreton Bay, Queensland

Shared working space Redcliffe Hive is a local council initiative aimed at improving innovation in the Queensland shire.

With about 100 business members, it's a standard office set up, with wifi, desks and meeting rooms but the location - just one street back from the beach - is a draw card.

The space also has a green screen room for video production and video conferencing facilities.

There's also plenty happening with weekly networking and business events.

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