As night falls, most people are packing up to go home, or meet friends for drinks or dinner. But for one group of ambitious entrepreneurs, the second half of their day is just getting started as they get to work on their new business, sideline or passion project from a co-working office.
Nocturnal co-working is a growing trend, according to Rentadesk's founder Bleddyn Williams, who has created a special Night Owl package to meet demand from people looking for evening hot desks.
"When entrepreneurs are really dedicated to getting their business going, they want to work all hours. But many don’t want to do that at home – so we provide a motivational alternative where they are surrounded by like-minded people who are similarly driven to succeed.”
Bleddyn Williams, Rentadesk Founder
So who are these strange, nocturnal workers – and why are they toiling while the rest of us sleep?
Laura Bloomer is a photographer, make-up artist and stylist, and the managing director of swimwear brand Sun God. She also runs See4Me, a revolutionary headset to help blind dogs.
Wow, Laura – you have a lot of jobs!
Haha, I know – and that’s not even counting my day job as an executive assistant at a private equity fund. The truth is I actually genuinely like working – and I get bored easily. I always need to be doing or creating something, and I like to be involved in a little bit of everything. At some point I’ll reach a tipping point when I’ll need to pick one to focus on, but that will be a hard decision so I’m putting it off for now.
When do you come in to Rentadesk?
I’m here two or three evenings per week. On weekdays I arrive at 8pm and leave around midnight, once or twice a week. Then I’m usually here at the weekend too arriving between 3pm and 6pm and leaving late. Sometimes I even do all-nighters, leaving at 7am the next day.
That’s crazy! Why do you work those hours?
For years I tried to train myself to be a morning person, now I just accept my brain ‘switches on' later. My most productive hours are from 10pm - 2am.
Are you the only person in the office?
Funnily enough, no! There are usually another couple of people doing what I’m doing. It is reassuring to see that others keep the same crazy hours that I do – it’s not just me!
Why not just work from home?
It’s not my thing – I learned that from my time at university. I just end up getting distracted. I tried working in cafes for a while but you can’t really stay there very long without feeling you need to buy more and more coffee. I used to work at a cafe when I was younger, and I know they want those tables back to serve other customers who will spend more money!
So you’re more productive at Rentadesk than you would be at home?
Definitely. Coming to Rentadesk was by far the best thing I ever did for my businesses and productivity. It’s not just about having a quiet desk space – it’s also about being in an inspiring place so that you can shift into an entrepreneurial mind set. Working for yourself can sometimes be a lonely business, so it’s also great to meet other people in a similar situation. Another great thing is that all the packages are really flexible, so if you find you want to use the place more or less than you expected, you can always change.
Did you look at any other co-working spaces?
Not really. As I like to come in late at night, this cut down the list of options immediately – I was amazed by how many are only open during regular office hours! Rentadesk was the only place I found that has a specific package for ‘night owls’ like me. Plus, a lot of co-working spaces seem to be near Canary Wharf whereas I wanted to be more central. Rentadesk’s location is great. It’s such a safe and busy area too, with brilliant transport links (especially now there’s the Night Tube on Fridays and Saturdays). It’s close to the main street and there are lots of restaurants so there are always people around. When you work at night you want to be somewhere with a bit of buzz and a feeling that there are other people around, however late it is.
What is your routine when you arrive at Rentadesk? Do you always sit at the same desk?
I definitely prefer quiet corners over the large shared table or more open areas – there is always plenty of room when I’m in so it’s never a problem finding a seat. I pick a spot, drop my bags and pour a glass of the special Rentadesk ‘Wonder Water’ (a healthy drink that’s on tap in the kitchen). Some people have lockers to store their stuff, but I just need my laptop and a notepad so I bring everything with me every time.
Any creature comforts?
Some of my fellow Night Owls bring in snacks, but I prefer to eat a sandwich on my way in, from Pret a Manger, as snacking just breaks my focus. Sometimes I chew gum. If I’m losing focus or getting bored doing something that’s more creative or doesn’t need intense concentration (like editing images or designing something) then I'll listen to my iPod. If I’m struggling to concentrate I listen to Alpha waves (YouTube it!) which help me to focus.
What’s the best thing about Rentadesk?
Besides being open all hours and very reasonably priced, I’d say definitely all the thoughtful little touches around the place. There are lots of big, new, trendy co-working spaces in London now, but none has the personal touch like here. Bleddyn, Rentadesk’s founder, takes care to make things really nice for us all. The office is decorated in such a simple, colourful way, there are always funny cartoons or quotes written on the kitchen blackboard and the cookie jar is always full. Sometimes, other Rentadeskers bring in cakes and leave little signs saying ‘Eat me!’ You don’t get that sort of personal touch at other shared offices in London.
Simon Pusey is the founder of Feast HQ, London’s late night food delivery service.
When do you use Rentadesk?
I come in around three nights per week, usually between 9.30pm and 4am. I usually come from home or having done various bits of admin involving our restaurants.
Why does the Night Owl package work for you?
I needed a place for the occasional business meeting that wasn't my home. I also need somewhere that I can talk on the phone at 2am and not disturb people. The main factor in choosing the Rentadesk office was the fact it is open 24 hours. Very few other places seem to offer that.
What is your routine when you arrive at Rentadesk?
I’m a hot-desker which means I can sit anywhere, but I tend to sit on the big set of desks in the main room. I like it because it’s close to the kitchen and has the best lighting. Once I’ve chosen my desk, I make a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Tea, coffee and biscuits are all free at Rentadesk.
Do you bring in any creature comforts?
I'm sadly not organised enough to prepare food and bring it in. If the biscuits in the cookie jar don't fully satisfy me I'll occasionally order from my own service!
Do you say hello to your fellow Rentadesk Night Owls?
Yes! There are usually 1 or 2 others. We always say hello and they sometimes check if I have a key or not, for security reasons. When you work odd hours, it's nice to know others are still working too! I think I’m a bit unusual because my night time work is the same as my day job. Most other people working at Rentadesk in the evening are working on a sideline business, I think.
What is your long-term plan?
To expand to the point that I am no longer leading the operations on a daily basis. To automate our delivery process so that operations require as little human input as possible.
Would you recommend the Rentadesk ‘Night Owl’ package to others?
Definitely. The office is open 24 hours, in a great location and it’s reasonably priced. And I’ve never seen the biscuits run out, which is a nice surprise.
The Rentadesk co-working community helps freelancers, independent workers, and entrepreneurs work on their projects in a friendly, inspirational environment, surrounded by like-minded individuals.
Check out if Rentadesk is right for you.
This Blog entry was written by Tanya de Grunwald. Tanya is a freelance journalist based in London. She is a long-standing member of Rentadesk and the founder of careers blog Graduate Fog.