HAD Abraham Maslow, that genius American psychologist, who died in 1970 survived to witness today’s technological wonders, he would have amended his life’s work…
The professor whose formulated “hierarchy of needs” studied avidly today by so many budding entrepreneurs, might have added a new element to layers of his iconic graphic pyramid showing basic needs.
Somewhere, below, between or above breathing, food, shelter, water, sex, sleep and excretion, he would have wormed in “wifi connection”.
And for 21st century nomad entrepreneurs who carry out their business “on the move” locating a comfortable shelter (where you can find decent food and drink), and one equipped with good links to the internet, is imperative.
That is why I have hitchhiked my way around London to find these perfect oases in the capital where so many of us converge to write our emails, formulate pitches, update social media and/or simply browse the web.
Guide to a ‘flexible’ low budget London office
Finding a low budget London office has led me to the weird and wacky; but there other perfect places to meet like-minded business people and exchange ideas.
You can pay what many might regard as a hefty annual fee to work in comfort from dedicated workstations and with access to coffee and posh grub with business advice to hand thrown in.
To steer you, there are a few useful websites, but this seems to be the daddy of them all and its first example – One Alfred Place in Fitzrovia and Mayfair is available for a membership fee of an eye-watering £1,300 plus VAT – that is if you can find a member who will recommend you for this exclusive service.
Yes, its gleaming 10,000 sq ft offers not only workstations and regular networking collaboration in a luxury setting, but also showers and lockers.
Then there is the even more pricey Mayfair establishment called The Clubhouse where for a fee of £2,750 a year you can have unlimited access to its two high-end offices on Grafton Street and Grosvenor Square, including co-working spaces, meeting rooms, hot-desking and lounge services.
On the other hand the award-winning Central Working, with three sites in Shoreditch, Whitechapel and Bloomsbury asks a relatively reasonable £99 for club membership and £499 for resident membership.
Or how about the Royal Society of Arts with HQ in John Adam Street between Covent Garden and Embankment tube stations? I have been a Fellow of that pillared architectural wonder for the past five years. It has a terrific restaurant and library. The cosy Gerard Bar attracts a bustle of networkers and already has its own online networking system for Fellows like me. And the venue has lightning wifi.
Provided you can be nominated, you can get access to all this for a joining fee of £75 and annual Fellowship fee of £168. That entitles you to join the ranks of past Fellows such as Charles Dickens, Adam Smith and Benjamin Franklin!
Whichever choice of paid workstations, these hardly fit into Maslow’s description of “basic needs”, do they?
So I’m also beaming in on secret places that satisfy simple wifi wants at a low budget London office rate – if not free, at least for the price of a cup of coffee and perhaps a sarnie?
You might want to satisfy your hunger with more than that at Caravan King’s Cross in an old granary building, surprisingly enough, in Granary Square.
It boasts “eclectic global cooking” on a reasonable brunch menu for the many seasoned business surfers who gather on weekday mornings at its special communal wifi table with “power posts” for ensuring their laptops stay powered up.
They have learned that the best times are between 8am and 3pm because much of the 1,000 covers per day take place late afternoons and evening when it can be a bit noisy.
Another popular wifi rendezvous is the German Gymnasium, an historic former gym transformed into a modern all-day café and bar serving Mittel-European cuisine in King’s Boulevard near Kings Cross and St Pancras railway stations.
Or how about the Hoxton hotels in both Holburn and Shoreditch, where management tell me that people taking advantage of their free and extensive wifi facilities in comfortable lounges are welcome. (No password required).
You’ll find an amazing resource for low budget London office wifi workstations here. The trouble with this website is that so many establishments are featured, represented by constellations of freckles north and south of the Thames, that it’s hard to home in on one. It’s like picking out one star in the Milky Way.
But here, to whet your appetite, are a few of them…
• Brunswick House Café at 30 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, a café/restaurant in a listed Georgian building . In anticipation of summer, the front gets the sun in the morning and there are garden tables. Wifi is free (ask for the password) and there are a couple of power points. Opens late Tuesday to Saturday. Coffee good. Specialises in British tapas-style “bites”.
• LJ Coffee House, 3 Winnett Street, Soho. Free wifi, power points and comfy chairs. Great coffee. It’s tucked away in a side street, so quiet in the mornings but picks up the pace of Soho in the afternoons.
• The Breakfast Club, 33 D’Arblay Street, Soho (pictured) , which a tester describes as “a compact but bijou eatery off Wardour Street with a loose 1980s theme.” Free wifi, excellent coffee and smoothies and the food’s not bad either. Note, please, there are bigger tables at the back which probably accommodated the Ferrari-driver who I imagine had sacrificed office costs for an image (super) upgrade.
• Shoe Lane Library, at Hill House in Little New Street – a basement library open for up to four hours a day to anyone, not just library members, but don’t expect drinks or good window views. Still, there are a few tables and comfy sofas.
• Tibits at 12 – 14 Heddon Street, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant described as having great atmosphere, good Italian coffee, very friendly staff “and the ability to work as long as you like without feeling pressured.”
• Le Pain Quotidien at 81-85 Notting Hill Gate, where no wifi password is needed and there are no limits on wifi use. Staff are tolerant of laptoppers and don’t usher you on once you’re done. Tip from tester: “It’s a bit quieter and there’s more space if you go upstairs.”
• Fleet River Bakery, 71 Lincoln’s Inn Fields in the City of London. The tester said: “Love this place. Amazing food, well made Monmouth Coffee, strong wifi and lots of workspace so no one ever bothers you if you stay awhile. Really friendly staff.”
Check all the freckles on this link carefully. Sometimes if it’s too good it can’t last, according to sod’s law. This website was well out of date in describing Woolfson & Tay as a bookshop and café in Bermondsey Square. It closed its doors there in Christmas 2012 and although it resurrected in Bankside on the corner of Bear Lane and Dolben Street five months later, it has now permanently closed.
Do you have your favourite low budget London office? YOUR London office on a shoestring? One which offers a silent – and sometimes vocal – commune for all you business nomads? Tell me and I’ll gratefully add it to the list.
That way we’ll be able properly to update Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” including wifi along with breathing and other basic necessities to launch our journey to the top – and self-realisation.
Key Learning Points: Wifi provides entrepreneurial minds with the power and opportunity to work almost anywhere. Seize the wifi in the capital by using this guide to find the perfect place to access your low budget London office.