As a creative multi-hyphenate (love that phrase!), I spend a lot of my days shuttling from place-to-place meeting clients and fellow creatives for content and strategy sessions, coffee and catch-ups, whilst squeezing an inordinate number of hours on my laptop in between, working on marketing, content and blog posts.
While I’ve got a sweet little office set up in the corner of my living room (which is currently getting a little revamp, watch this space), being out-and-about so often during the working day means I’ve had to hunt down the very best places in Manchester to set-up my laptop, always with good coffee and fast wifi a prerequisite!
Since my post a few years back on the best London workspaces for creative freelancers continues to be one of my most popular, I thought it was time to create a sequel and highlight a few of my favourite places to work in my new hometown. I’ve included a range of options (because we really are spoilt for choice up here!), from freelancer-friendly coffee shops to proper co-working venues, all within easy reach of the city centre.
Give me a shout if you’re planning on stopping by one of these Manchester workspaces; chances are you’ll find me (and my laptop) at one of these spots on any given day..
Ziferblat, Edge Street
Working from Ziferblat has the relaxed, cosy feel of being in your grandparent’s sitting room; full of mismatched settees and comfy armchairs, varying sizes of coffee and side tables, and shelves laden with vintage board games and quirky accent pieces. It is very much conceived as a place where you can do as you please (within reason!) and encouraged to treat like an extension of your own home. On any given day you will find networking groups hosting lively meetings in one corner, a couple of friends battling it out over a tense game of chess in another, and solo freelancers making connections over the free tea and cakes in the kitchen.
Did I mention free tea and cakes? One of the unique selling points of the Ziferblat set-up is everything on offer in the space is free: all you pay for is your time spent in the venue, at a rate of 8p a minute. The super-fast wifi, the vast array of tea, cake, special Ziferblend coffee and lunchtime selection of soup, breads for toasting and well-stocked pantry of accompanying preserves are all included. They even cater for vegan and gluten-free dietary requirements.
The 8p a minute rate is capped at 4 hours, meaning the rest of time you spend in the venue is free. For those struggling to do the math, you can spend a full working day in the space, with access to as much tea and toast as you like, for £19.20. To put that in perspective, if you spend your working day moving from coffee shop to coffee shop, utilising their often-patchy wifi connections and forking out for a flat white each time, along with a cheeky breakfast pastry and something more substantial for lunch, you’d be paying at least the same amount (if not more) and likely be far less productive given all the cafe hopping. So to my mind, a day spent working at Ziferblat is money well spent. You’re also very likely to strike up some great conversations with fellow creatives working in the space, and potentially make some great new connections for future ventures!
→Ziferblat, 23 Edge Street, M4
Described as a co-working space for “thinkers, doers, creators”, Colony is a new co-working community space full of freelancers, creatives, digital nomads, start-ups and entrepreneurs. It’s designed to be a space where ideas can pollinate and businesses flourish, and provide a springboard space to the permanent offices on the higher floors in Jactin House, a building which once provided housing for local millworkers in the world’s first industrial area. The building’s interior has been beautifully restored by Colony Director Aaron Ezair and Community Manager Alex Campbell to retain many of the original features, such as the ceramic tiling and the internal lift shaft which allows light to filter down from the higher levels in the building, providing a great focal point for two hanging balloon chairs, inspired by Eero Aarnio’s classic design.
The workspace is divided into different functional areas, from “collaboration zones” to multiple “focus areas” with a sociable kitchen offering unlimited tea, coffee, soft drinks and fruit, and acoustically-treated phone booths for private phone calls. This space is the most “office-y” of all the spaces on my list and is a great place for focused full-day working when you’ve got big projects and looming deadlines, and want to be surrounded by other creatives hard at work.
Day passes are available from £20, so it’s still a viable option if you’re only in town for a few days and want a professional space with ultra-fast wifi to work from, while full-time memberships are available on rolling monthly contracts.
→Colony, Jactin House, 24 Hood Street, M4
The Daisy, Northern Quarter
Located beneath Evelyn’s cafe bar (one of my faves spots to eat in the city!), The Daisy is a newly opened co-working space a lounge for creatives. Inspired by the Pigalle district in Paris, this members-only space is chock full of pieces from some of my favourite design brands, including comfy sofas by Graham & Green, counter chairs by Afteroom, Turning coffee tables and JWDA table lamps from Menu, juxtaposed against exposed brickwork and industrial accents more synonymous with the Northern Quarter’s heritage.
The intimate basement setting makes for a cosy, comfortable space perfect for daytime coffee meetings or focused working sat up at the countertop workspace in the centre, before transforming into a chic cocktail lounge in the evening, Wednesday through Saturday. Some might find the darkened basement area a little prohibitive to focused working for long periods at a time, but I really like the space for a welcome shot of design inspiration, great coffee (from Ozone coffee roasters) and a quiet comfy setting for catching up on emails, prepping posts and catching up with fellow creatives.
→The Daisy, Smithfield Building, Tib Street, M4
Porter+Cole, Northern Quarter
If daylight is important to your productivity levels, you can’t go wrong with setting up your laptop for a few hour’s working in Porter+Cole. With windows along three sides, the coffee lounge / lifestyle store gets beautiful light throughout the day and has an abundance of comfy seating and large co-working tables alongside many instagrammable corners and a vast array of greenery, to create a relaxed but productive working environment. The coffee is also highly quaffable, and there is a daily selection of beautifully crafted cakes from choux choux patisserie and vegan sweet treats from (my faves) Nicely Kitchen to provide a much needed sugar-hit mid-afternoon. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself distracted ever so slightly by the store’s namesakes; two adorable, friendly and inquisitive dogs, Porter and Cole.
→Porter+Cole, 124 High Street, M4
Pioneer, city centre
The new kid on the block, Pioneer opened in the Federation Building in Shudehill last month. While the Federation has a co-working floor upstairs in the building, offering flexible and permanent desk options, I’ve personally only experienced working in the new cafe space on the ground floor. The wifi is fast and reliable, the seating options plentiful, and the daytime food menu offers a great selection of classic brunch and light lunch options to keep your brain ticking over if you want to set up shop in the space for a good working day, with Manchester city centre and Victoria station right on your doorstep.
→Pioneer coffee shop, Dantzic Street, M4
Lead portrait © Alexander Ward. All other photography © Kate Baxter.