More and more of us are working from home these days, or ‘working remotely’ as is the proper term for it. Many are also working as freelancers, doing contract work, or are self-employed, meaning they are not tied to an office.
There are many proven benefits to working from home, such as increased productivity, less sick days, higher levels of employee satisfaction and staff reporting a better work-life balance. But there are draw-backs too, such as lack of interaction with employees and peers, leading to feelings of isolation. People can also experience ‘cabin fever’ as a result of not leaving their house for long periods of time.
The solution? Remote working outside your flat. You might be familiar with the classic coworking spaces such as Soho House, We Work and Uncommon, which are popular among start-ups and individual business. But the problem with these for a remote worker is the cost – yep, they’re not free, and why would you pay £450 a month to hire a desk when you could just use the office or your house just fine?
That’s why we have gathered some cool spots (including restaurants, bars and cafes) where you can come in with your laptop and work away free of charge. We’ve hunted down some awesome places that have free wifi, free-flowing coffee and comfy seating.
Being restaurants and cafes, you are naturally expected to buy something while you’re there, but if you purchase the odd coffee here and there, not to mention your lunch, these establishments will be happy to have you.
Need a specific area? You can jump to the different London zones below:
Where to work remotely in east London
Serata Hall is the latest addition from Albion & East, the group responsible for popular Brixton joints Canova Hall and Cattivo, as well as Hackney destination Martello Hall. This new opening, located on Old Street round-about is a multi-use space that is a remote worker’s dream – unlimited coffee and complimentary wifi draws the coworking crowd. The bakery and all-day restaurant serves up signature pizzas and home-made pasta, meaning you can have a cracking lunch (or if you’re burning the midnight oil, dinner) here, too.
The Shoreditch Grind, a post-industrial refectory on Old Street’s silicon roundabout, opens for continental-style breakfasts, and offers an all-day roster of cakes, soups and sandwiches. The ‘grind’ of the title refers to freshly roasted and brewed coffee in all its forms, from skinny lattes during the day to espressos in the evening, meaning you can work from dawn 'till dusk (great). The hip coffee shop doubles as a bar at night, so ideal for (ahem) post-work drinks, too. The mini-chain also has locations in London Bridge, Holborn and Soho and they too welcome keen WFH-ers.
Referring to the proud outburst children make when finally being able to cycle without stabilisers, it’s no wonder Look Mum, No Hands is bike-themed. Bikes double as artwork here, hanging on walls and from ceilings, the way any east-end millennial would want it. The long counter with dedicated plug sockets makes this a popular destination with remote workers – as does the selection of delicious sandwiches, cakes, pastries and smoothies.
Located on the ground floor of a shared events space, art gallery and hot-desking hub, The Modern Grill at Forge & Co’s self-styled ‘canteen’ is less reminiscent of school dinners and more akin to a hip Scandi hangout. With friendly staff and a dedicated lounge for drinks, Forge & Co has pitched itself as a top Shoreditch spot for work or play. We suggest you dabble in both.
This exuberant boogie bar draws in the crowds with dippy events such as ‘Crap Film Club’, King Pong ping-pong, twerking school and ‘death drawing classes’, as well as disco dancing in its basement club. But The Book Club is also open from 8am for bleary-eyed breakfasting, with spacious tables and friendly staff creating a work-conducive ambiance – the clue’s in the name.
Gerry Calabrese, owner of The Hoxton Pony, is onto a winner with this conversion of a London Fields laundry. Half the considerable floor space – plus a kitsch, all-weather tented courtyard – is now a 1950s-cool lounge bar. For early-morning working, Wringer & Mangle has a breakfast menu and fresh juices to keep you alert.
This Shoreditch hotel is a haven for bearded and specked hipster nerds that are working remotely. The lobby and lounge at the Ace Hotel is always packed on the long communal tables and comfy lounge chairs. The next-door restaurant, Hoi Polloi, also caters for workers, with socketed tables, meaning you don’t ever need to take a break (although we recommend you do, of course) – even when chowing down on the restaurant’s modern European grub.
Where to work remotely in west London
Part of the Soho House group, this all-day bar and restaurant naturally has dedicated event spaces and smaller members-only office spaces for hire. But The Allis White City is also open to the public is its casual dining area, filled with comfy mid-century furniture, atmospheric lighting and cool art. Fresh and seasonal ingredients help make up a British menu where the likes of California-inspired smashed avocado on toast might be expected.
The marble-topped bar, the beautiful conservatory and the outdoor terrace contribute towards making this Ealing restaurant a popular destination for freelancers. Working in a group? The modern European menu at Charlotte’s W5 is made for sharing, with delights such as veal carpaccio, home-made ricotta with beets and cashews or bespoke dessert platters.
Where to work remotely in south London
Brixton’s ever-cool Canova Hall serves up Italian classics from its all-day menu, which should keep you energised and motivated throughout the working day. The buzzy vibes and post-industrial interiors that are matched with the building’s old profile as Brixton’s Bon Marché department store go down well with the trendy workers – as do the delicious cocktails served in the evening. You can sign up to a weekly or monthly pass to get unlimited free coffee and wifi.
If you fancy yourself as an arty type, head down to the cheap and cheerful Seven at Brixton, a daytime caff in Brixton Market that morphs into a rustic, Spanish-style backstreet bar come evening. Exhibits by local artists are featured in a gallery space above, which is sure to get your creative juices flowing. Then enjoy a selection of wines at peasant prices, perfect for all struggling artistes.
Rude Health Café, Putney
The large communal benches and free wifi literally screams out for remote workers to flock to this Putney caff, which serves up great coffee and nutritious brain food. Bring your laptop down and grab a healthy breakfast before kicking off your day – hearty soups and fresh sandwiches work decently for lunch, too.
Where to work remotely in north London
You might be surprised that a bar with a name involving ‘Champagne’ would be ideal as a remote working spot, but trust us, it is. St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar, located inside St Pancras International Station, turns a third of its dining spaces into workspace tables during the day, complete with sockets and complimentary wifi. This is also ideal for commuters, or if you’re jumping on the Eurostar on business (or holiday), a quick stop here can turn your half-day into an efficient working day.
The cosy Reading Room at the Wellcome Collection museum doubles as a library, gallery and event space. During the day, the quiet room is ideal for working in, with several tables to choose from, not to mention a very comfy sofa. There are also cushions on the stairs for you to curl up with a book or a note pad on.
OK, we haven’t been entirely honest with you. We have included two remote working spots where you have to pay a small daily fee for working in their premises, but it’s a fairly small one and there is something in it for you. BrewDog has introduced a remote working initiative called ‘Desk Dog’ across a handful of its bars in the UK, including Camden and Clerkenwell in North London, as well as sites in Dalston, Paddington, Seven Dials, Shepherd’s Bush, Soho, Shoreditch and Canary Wharf. For £7 a day, you will get unlimited coffee, access to printers, pens and paper – as well as a pint of IPA when the working day is done. Cheers to that.
Where to work remotely in the City
Black-fronted Department of Coffee & Social Affairs (fondly nicknamed DCSA) is essentially a new-breed coffee shop set up by a couple of young guys from down under. The site was once an ironmonger’s, and has been recast as an uncluttered, caffeine-focused social hub supported by local designers and artists (their works are displayed on the café’s bare brick walls). You can also hire the private room for coffee-fuelled meetings around a communal table.
The Lounge at The Hoxton, Holborn
Yes, it’s a hotel, but one where you won’t feel out of place if you’re not a guest. Open-plan, several bars and restaurants lead off a spacious lobby, making it a versatile place for meetings, eating or solitary confinement (sorry, we mean study). In particular, Hubbard & Bell has lots of booths to tuck yourself away in, with plenty of sockets for laptops – that’ll keep your emails (or Netflix) afloat.
Where to work remotely in central London
This café is an excellent halfway house for when you don’t want to go to work, but do want the buzz of other working types bustling away around you. Super-speedy Wi-Fi and flat whites practically on tap: it doesn’t get much more productive than this. Timberyard Seven Dials also churns out lovely cakes and grilled sandwiches.
You have to hand it to the Soho House Group for creating this dynamo of a place – the neighbourhood’s media goings-on would practically grind to a halt without it. Start your day with a full English and a cup of strong coffee in the buzzy ground-floor brasserie, then the area’s rakes, wordsmiths and fashionistas are back in again at lunch, making Dean Street Townhouse a great place to people watch when you want to procrastinate (not that we ever do that).
Restaurant giant D&D London has launched a new workspace initiative to fill empty restaurants seats with remote workers in some of its biggest restaurants during the day. The Workroom is available across 100 Wardour Street, Bluebird Chelsea and White City, Fiume (pictured above) and Radici and does, admittedly, cost money, but we think it’s a fairly reasonable price. A mere £10 gives you a day pass, whereas three passes are £25; five can be purchased for £50 or 10 for £75. In return, you will get limitless wifi, an abundance of plug sockets and complimentary coffee, tea and water. And that’s not even considering the sleek surrounds of D&D’s restaurants and their corresponding menus filled with gorgeous food for you to tuck into come lunch-time.
Planning a birthday party, anniversary dinner or engagement party? We’ve got some fabulous pubs with function rooms for you here