But is the home, land of endless laundry opportunities, actually the most productive place to work? In a bid to find out, I packed up my laptop and road tested five different workspaces.
The coffee shop: The Coffee Works Project, Islington
With the new guy in the flat above mine starting his violin practice, my mission couldn’t be timelier. Laptop in my rucksack, I grab my bike and pedal to The Coffee Works Project. It’s hectic, but I bag a seat next to the window and there’s a plug socket nearby (the holy grail when working on a laptop). But it’s also near the door, and in front of the till, and by the coffee station – meaning I’m so distracted that it takes me an hour or so to really settle in.
Still, headphones in, I eventually conquer my to-do list. For me, it’s not the environment for knuckling down to write and edit, but I’d return for meetings, emailing and admin work. And the delicious smell of coffee.
Thankfully, I’d done my laundry the night before so it couldn’t interfere with my work. However, I’d stayed up until 2.30am to meet several deadlines, so I spend an hour after waking up filing copy and answering emails before heading to a class at the gym. Freshly showered, I make a soup while listening to the radio.
Work doesn’t really kick in until after 2.30pm. Working from home always feels like an utter luxury and sometimes I take full advantage of that – gym at non-peak times, visiting the lido and eating picnics at the park in the summer. I know I’m not being as productive as possible; I just have to make up for the distractions late into the evening.
small business network
Soho House is one such place to have tapped into the rise of the digital nomad, having opened a co-working space next door to its Shoreditch House club. With both a lounge and a hot-desking area, I’m able to choose my backdrop depending on my work mood.
I stay in the lounge area at first where, with members tapping away on their laptops or having hushed conversations, it’s easy to carry out interviews. Later, when I’m seeking more quiet to get some writing done, I head to a desk.
This is a place that has been designed with the worker firmly in mind: you’ll never have to fight over a plug socket and there are water stations, standing desks, a library and magazines dotted around for inspiration. Here I crack on with my work with gusto. I spot a poster advertising upcoming events, proving a co-working hub can be a social and educational space too.
If you have poor reception or are trying to keep your mobile bill down, Soho Works provides landlines in its studies (private rooms) at £20 a month (for six months minumum) including calls.
The private members’ club: The Hospital Club, Camden
Breakfast meetings are wrapping up at The Hospital Club, located firmly in the heart of Covent Garden, as I arrive. There are plenty of cosy chairs throughout its many meeting areas, but I search for somewhere quiet to write.
I spot a table upstairs and, against the backdrop of funky music and several others working away, I’m able to crack on with my tasks. That’s until a group of five or so choose to sit on the table behind me, laughing, joking, plotting – all of which is perfectly permissible in a private members’ club, but it distracts the hell out of me. I try and find another quiet spot but I end up back at the same table.
At 4pm, we’re asked to clear the room for an event (there are lots of interesting events on here and the staff are impeccable) so I grab a plush chair in the bar and send some emails. There’s a wonderful atmosphere and I swear I can smell mulled wine. Like the coffee shop, it’s perfect for meetings and securing that deal, but it proves a little tough for concentrating.
The place of interest: Barbican, City of London
Oh, the brutalist beauty that is the Barbican. Now otherwise known to me as an amazing spot to hunker down and get to work. Upon arrival, I’m delighted to find scores of desks and plenty of available plug sockets. It’s relatively quiet apart from the odd noise from the exhibition.
A girl regularly flies by on roller-skates – at the Barbican nobody bats an eyelid at such sights – and it’s the kind of place you can bring your lunch, work from, visit an exhibition then grab a drink at the martini bar. Why have I never worked from here before? It’s bloody brilliant.
Suzanne Bearne was a guest of Soho Works and The Hospital Club.