Many freelancers are parents—and many chose freelancing because it offers the flexibility of being there for their children when they’re needed.
However, if you’re a freelancing parent, you’ll know the flipside is that there will always be times when you need to work, but your child also needs to be cared for. It can be hard to concentrate with Peppa Pig perpetually jumping in muddy puddles a few metres away, eliciting excited shrieks from your too-easily-impressed offspring.
A slowly-growing number of co-working spaces offer a solution: on-site childcare or child-friendly workspaces.
London leads the child-friendly co-working race
London leads the way in co-working—there are more co-working spaces there than in New York, and in the UK, it’s the place to be if you want your child cared for close by while you work.
Nurseries and childminders are all very well, but for sound financial reasons, they tend to want to know when they will be looking after your child and for how long. The flexibility you’ve gained in your working life is often lost when you’re trying to match it up with childcare.
So far, none of the co-working giants have taken the leap and some sites in other places have tried and failed, blaming tight profit margins and an abundance of red tape. But some smaller sites are now offering childcare or a child-friendly working environment. The vast majority are in London, although ImpactHub, offering very limited childcare, is based in Birmingham.
Cuckooznest, the brainchild of Cuckooz Charlie Rosier and her business partner Fabienne O’Neill, was the result of two observations coming together. Rosier struggled to find affordable and flexible childcare when returning to work after having her first child, while the Cuckooz team, who run a serviced apartments service, noticed how many of the apartments were used by young remote workers. The site in Farringdon allows you to book office and space for under-twos in the Ofsted-registered crèche on a pay-as-you-go basis, from as little as one hour a day.
Their prices range from £10.80 to £20 per hour depending on how regularly you use the space and a monthly membership, where you commit to booking a minimum of 8 hours a week with 4 weeks’ notice period, is available. 8 hours per week costs £86.40 inclusive of creche, workspace and attached benefits.
Huckletree West in White City doesn’t have an on-site creche, although they will help you book childcare through the Bubble app if you wish. What they do have is a child-friendly workspace in and a community feel. Its ‘Power Parents’ membership(£175 a month) allows you morning or afternoon access to the Kids Studio, a workspace featuring a play area and private nursing area, and separate baby changing facilities.
40% of Huckletree West is dedicated breakout space for collaboration and chilling out, with a no-tech Meditation Yurt, sunken seating zone and podcasting booth for content creators. There are shared working spaces, private studios, resident desks and numerous events to enjoy.
Second Home Londonfields isn’t open yet and prices for membership including childcare are still not verified (other memberships range from £250-£550 a month). However, there are already Second Home sites in Lisbon and Los Angeles and now three in London, with the recent opening of their Clerkenwell Green site.
Londonfields is set to be the first that offers childcare, with an on-site Nursery run by N Nursery & Family Club. It will also offer showers, a café and a wellness programme together with the use, 5 days a month, of any of their other locations. Interested? You can book a tour and see it for yourself.
Third Door, located in Putney, was the UK’s first, flexible coworking space with an onsite Ofsted registered nursery and takes children from 3 months to 5 years old. It’s an award-winning working space and the traditional nursery set up means you can be offsite, even for the whole day, if you need to be.
Like Cuckooznest, it was the result of the frustrations of one of its founders. Shazia Mustafa tried to balance work with the needs of her five-month old daughter and wanted a place to work in peace, where her baby would be cared for nearby. She started Third Door with her husband when she couldn’t find one.
Prices start from £11.50 per hour and there is a flexible membership package that allows you to buy an amount of hours per month, or fixed membership packages that start from £347 a month for a day’s childcare per week (which is around £81) a day. Their booking software allows members to make their own bookings and offers flexible booking, which means you don’t pay when you are on holiday, as you can swap days around to suit you.
ImpactHub is a co-working space that offers a children’s membership alongside your own, giving your child access to high-quality childcare for children from 6 months to preschool age between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. every Thursday.
Children’s Membership can be purchased in conjunction with any other Impact Hub Birmingham membership at an additional £20+VAT, per child. Parents, guardians or carers must stay on-site at Impact Hub Birmingham for the duration of the session.
Even those sites with a more traditional nursery save you the double-commute of travelling to your childcare provider and your workplace, and the popularity of these sites proves there’s a real need for the service they provide.
If you’re a freelancing parent living outside London, would you welcome a co-working space close to home? Share your thoughts!