Over the past few years Cambridge has been experimenting with coworking spaces. For me, none of these have ticked all the boxes that I’m looking for, namely:
- Rock-solid wi-fi
- Great coffee
- Hassle-free working
- “Serendipity central”
Yes, we have ideaSpace but, quite frankly, it’s too problematic to get to. We’ve tried the Hidden Rooms but the wi-fi wasn’t good enough. There are a myriad coffee shops in Cambridge but they never score particularly well if you want to work for more than an hour. So, how does Cambridge Business Lounge score?
10/10 – Solid and fast. Move on.
8/10 – Very central location next to the Grafton Centre. Easy to get to via multiple bus routes including Park and Ride. Commuting by train might still be a hassle, but that’s more down to the location of the station than the location of CBL. This centrality also gives easy access to other amenities like food.
8/10 – It’s not Massaro’s, but they’ve gone to the expense and effort of providing a Nespresso-esque machine. These days it simple isn’t acceptable to provide a kettle and a jar of instant coffee. Well done for understanding that good coffee shouldn’t be seen as an added extra.
9/10 – £10 for 4 hours. About the same as you’d spend in a coffee shop if you did you honourable thing and bought a couple of drinks and some food. You also get free coffee, drinks, fruit and whatever little surprises Ed has brought in that day!
9/10 – The problem with coffee shops is the sense that you’ve, quite rightly, overstayed your welcome after about an hour. At CBL you can book 4- or 8-hour sessions and not feel nervous about charging your laptop and phone. The space feels like an open plan office. This does have the effect of getting you to knuckle down and do productive work. If like me you move around a lot when working, there’s also a sofa area where you can get a change of scenery.
6/10 – One of the biggest downsides to working remotely is you miss serendipitous contact. Businesses grow and develop on opportunistic meetings and you just can’t get that in a home office. For me, Google Campus scores a 10 in this area due to it’s large, casual working space and critical mass of bodies. However, on both my previous visits to CBL I was introduced to people who I might be able to do business with. Ed is an excellent host who prompts introductions rather than leaving it up to you (something the more technically leaning individuals may find useful).
43/50 – A lot of Cambridge folk have been asking for a more central place to co-work. Well, here it is. It’s up to us to work with CBL to shape it to the needs of our unique environment. I encourage you all to give it a go in order to gain an informed opinion. As for me, will I be back? Definitely.