Conscious co-working: London's new hot-desking space will induce serious office envy

Katie Strick
Katie Strick tries out the co-working space 42 Acres in Shoreditch: Matt Writtle

The room is filled with scented candles, crystals and calming music, and plants hang from the ceiling and walls. Sunlight floods in from large church-like windows and there’s a natural, Scandi feel, with bright wooden furniture and cream woollen rugs. A shoe rack sits by the door.

It sounds, looks, feels and even smells like a luxury yoga or meditation studio, except for all the laptops.

This is London’s first “conscious” co-working space, 42 Acres, just off Shoreditch’s Silicon Roundabout.

Seth and Lara Tabatznik, the sibling founders of this new freelance workspace, say they want it to be an incubator for creatives in the wellness and environmental fields and an oasis where you can “find the balance between productivity and health — both mental and physical”.

It’s a nod to cities like Melbourne, Stockholm and LA, where conscious working is becoming integral to the freelance scene (of course), and a reaction to Londoners’ growing desire to meet their spiritual and emotional needs in their professional lives, says marketing manager Kendal Owens.

“It feels like there’s a real calling for it, especially within wellness and social change-driven companies. It’s about having an awareness of your surroundings, whether it’s the beat-plastic movement or the companies you’re working alongside.”

Naturally, 42 Acres’ community fits this conscious ethos: members include Samantha Moyo, founder of conscious clubbing movement Morning Gloryville, creatives from farming podcast Farmerama Radio, sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future and sound healing app Third Year.

The culture is collaborative. There’s a sofa area for mixing with other members and a shared kitchen and meeting room — and the network is growing: Farmdrop and Rebel Kitchen are partners and Owens says they’re hoping to team up with food-sharing app Olio.

42 Acres' members can choose to work at wooden tables, standing desks, sofas and bean bags (Matt Writtle)

The space has been designed with sustainability firmly in mind, says Owens. It relies heavily on natural light and ventilation, switching to low-energy LED lights on grey days and during winter.

Inside, furniture is made from reclaimed materials, plants are used to clean the air and everything is plastic-free: reusable coffee cups are provided for members taking a trip to Pret and there are canvas bags for anyone popping out to get lunch.

There’s an on-site wormery for breaking down kitchen waste into compost and communal food is sourced locally or from 42 Acres’ retreat centre down in Somerset.

The conscious concept might sound airy fairy but the benefits are real, says Helen Morris, founder of wellness marketing agency Samsara Communications. The 32-year-old was one of the first members to start using the space and says it’s boosted her productivity and mental health as well as her business.

New member Lucas Windhager agrees: he previously used WeWork offices to run his vegan fashion company ALIVE Boutique but wanted something “smaller and more personal”.

He joined 42 Acres two weeks ago and has already noticed an improvement in his productivity.

Companies such as Forum For the Future and Third Year call 42 Acres home (Matt Writtle)

Dynamic workstations are one of 42 Acres’ key features: members can choose to work at wooden tables, standing desks, sofas, bean bags or on special posture kneeler chairs, and are encouraged to reposition themselves multiple times a day.

Currently, 42 Acres has 30 members and there’s capacity for up to 100, depending on how regularly they use it. She hopes to grow the network and would love to have a conscious co-working space at every compass point in London in the next few years. Join the movement.

66 Leonard Street, EC2, 42acresshoreditch.com

Where to work it: Other hot hot desks

This Time Next Year

This co-working space in Leyton has a café, event space and an office dog.

80 Ruckholt Road, E10, thistimenextyear.co.uk

Palmspace

Former print factory filled with palm trees, and desks made from parquet floors reclaimed from old schools.

Hackney Downs Studios, 17 Amhurst Terrace, E8, eatworkart.com/palmspace

Fora

A boutique workspace in Clerkenwell complete with a bar, and yoga studio and wet rooms on-site. The restaurant, Palatino, is backed by Stevie Parle of Rotorino.

71 Central Street, EC1, foraspace.com

Plexal

Housed inside the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, this innovative workspace is designed to resemble a mini-city with its own indoor park, private phone booths, high street, town hall and workshop space for rapid prototyping (stocked with 3D printers and scanners).

14 E Bay Lane, E20, plexal.com