Entrepreneurs, consultants and freelancers often need to travel away from home when working with a client. That's why the boom in comfortable, superbly equipped coworking spaces is so welcome. Nowadays, you can book a desk for a day in any town or city. But affording it may not be so easy.
Prices vary spectacularly from place to place. You can pay as much as £60 per person per day or as little as £3! So which UK cities are cheapest and dearest on average? And where will you find the most expensive and amazingly affordable desks?
We commissioned a new research project1 - to clarify the latest facts and figures about coworking. The results may surprise you, especially if one assumes that everything's at its priciest in London.
The UK capital ranks third for average desk hire price at £26.04. Leeds (£26.79) and Southampton (£26.67) are higher in the table. Why is Yorkshire's biggest city so expensive? It's probably a combination of high demand and low supply. London has the highest density of coworking spaces - 85 against 14 in Leeds. Yet Leeds is the UK's fastest-growing city and has one of the most diverse economies of all UK employment centres2. Many major employers are present in the city, especially in the financial and legal sectors. Market forces are clearly at work here.
The cheapest and most expensive places to hire a desk for the day in the UK are:
The average price to rent a desk in the UK is £21.79.
Wolverhampton is where you'll find that £3 per day desk. The Hub at Ashmore Park is the precise location. Naturally, you get what you pay for to some extent, and amenities are less than lavish. But it's a modern facility with everything you'll likely need to be productive, including free coffee and drinking water.
Even in London, you can pay little. The Fore near King’s Cross will set you back just £5 per person per day. There are several more locations in the capital where you can rent desk space for around £10 to £15 per day. A desk at the Psychedelic Society sounds particularly mind-expanding.
Our research found that the most expensive desk space in the whole of the UK is at Building Bloqs in London, just off the North Circular, which brands itself as a "makerspace."
Yes, it costs £60 per person per day, but you get a lot for your money. Perks include free parking, an on-site barista and standing desks. There's even a 3D printer in the building.
Coworking was rising slowly before 2020. Then the coronavirus pandemic transformed everything. Flexible and hybrid working are now firmly established, fuelling the boom in rentable desks. Many employers have also taken the opportunity to shrink their office space.
To feed this demand, supply in the UK has grown by 4%, and the UK flexible workspace market is on track to hit 12.5% penetration within two years. That's a doubling of the current supply.3 Prices aside, recent research has found demand for flexible workspaces is on a significant upward trajectory. So, where are the hidden hotspots across the UK meeting this demand? As to be expected, London offers the highest density of coworking spaces. However, regional hubs are starting to emerge, with Leeds, Bristol, Brighton and Newcastle all providing plenty of choice. Brighton is, in fact, home to the highest volume of office spaces per 1,000 people, followed by Chichester, Bath, Exeter and Newcastle.
With more regional hubs seeing more footfall, it's important for businesses to keep up. Accepting card payments can help small businesses target those commuters when they travel in for work.
The average number of days UK workers are commuting into an office is just 1.5 days per week. New research from the Consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates suggests that Fridays are the quietest days of the week, with only 13% making the commute and going into the office. On average, office attendance is 29%, with a peak of 39% mid-week.
Statistics show that most people commute to work mid-week and this is when co-working facilities across the UK are most likely to be busiest. This is good news for high street businesses as footfall in city and town centres will be higher mid-week. It is a perfect opportunity to offer mid-week specials and deals to encourage customers to visit. For more insights on how high streets are bouncing back after lockdown, check out our High Street Index.
Sandra Rowley, Head of Marketing at takepayments, shares what these findings mean for small businesses in 2022:
“Coworking spaces are no longer exclusive to London. We’ve seen demand for this type of office space steadily increase for some time, and naturally the pandemic has accelerated that growth.
“It’s encouraging to see hubs emerging in regions across the UK, providing small business owners and managers with the valuable space they need to collaborate and deliver for their customers. We hope that by doing the number crunching and sharing the average prices to expect, we can support our customers in making an informed decision when looking to rent desk space.”
1Research carried out 05.08.22 - 08.08.22. Data taken from coworker.com “The World’s Largest Coworking & Flexible Office Marketplace”