Forget the old boys’ club − a new wave of female-only workspaces offering more co-working and networking opportunities is transforming office culture from the inside out
Women only workspaces are now popping up in glorious technicolour across the UK, following the likes of The Wing emerging in NYC (think pro networking opportunities and millennial pink interiors). Lu Li founded Blooms (pictured above) in east London out of frustration at the reports of discrimination, harassment and unequal pay in mixed offices. ‘I got tired of the ecosystem created by guys for guys, and wondered what the world would look like if we created somewhere by and for women − where they could be nurtured and collaborate in a space they feel comfortable,’ she says. Research shows men tend to dominate in mixed meetings, so developing a space for women to speak out more confidently and forge empowering connections has led to a hip new breed of women only workspaces, where mentoring and seriously chic interiors replace macho culture. Step inside the new-mood offices…
Women only workspaces in London
The look: New York-style loft meets Parisian apartment that’s big on plants and natural light.
The perks: Mentors offer their time to fellow members for free in one-to-one and group sessions. They also run events including inspirational talks, workshops and social meet-ups.
The low-down: ‘I’m proud to have built up a loyal band of women supporting each other, and of the optimism that has grown out of Blooms. With 75 per cent of self-employed women working from home, it is vital to help women build valuable business connections and feel less isolated,’ says founder Lu Li.
The look: Berber-style rugs, modernist furniture and bamboo hammocks.
The perks: WeWork counts Rebekah Paltrow Neumann (cousin of Gwyneth) as a founding partner and Karlie Kloss as an advisory board member. Workspaces are open to men, but also host a roster of women-only events, including She Leads (a celebration of kick-ass women) alongside talks on creativity, integrity, and how to be productive but avoid burnout.
The low-down: ‘[We’re a] global network of shared community spaces with 21 venues in London, plus a second space in Manchester opening this summer.’
The look: Monochrome sofas, panelled walls and floral displays.
The perks: A members’ club for working women, this Fitzrovia-based Georgian townhouse (above) celebrates the Bloomsbury group, with each of its five floors named after one of the set’s artists and intellectuals. Members can access networking events, funding opportunities and the AllBright Academy for business-building – plus a beauty bar and fitness classes.
The low-down: ‘We are a home from home for entrepreneurs – a place to retreat between meetings and be inspired.’
Women only workspaces in Bristol
The look: A former warehouse in the Old Market area (pictured below), modern decor is punctuated by crafty creations designed by arty residents.
The perks: A stone’s throw from two more co-working creative spaces − Bristol Upholstery Collective and Old Market Manor − the opportunities to network here are huge. Having a diverse female membership allows skill-swapping, too − crucial for entrepreneurs juggling multiple roles.
The low-down: ‘We never set out for the space to be women-only, it just happened. Our building also houses three other all-women businesses − the fashion label Antiform, The Bristol Weaving Mill, and Dash & Miller Woven Fabric Studio − and it’s exciting watching what happens when these businesses connect,’ says founder Emma Hague.
Women only workspaces in Brighton
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The look: White brick walls, rustic wooden tables and Eames-style desk chairs.
The perks: All members at the North Laine space get free entry to a string of events, from photography workshops to motivational talks, as well as socials, which vary from bottomless brunches to goal-setting career sessions.
The low-down: ‘We’re a space for female creatives and entrepreneurs – somewhere they can feel comfortable, supported and empowered. Women need the chance to move their businesses out of the home to a place that’s affordable,’ says founder Lola Hoad.
Words by Charlotte Philby