Born of the startup community and gig economy, the co-working space is upending the office around the world. The best are centrally located and o er cleverly designed spaces for both private productivity and convivial collaboration, with the ability to rent a desk or an office for a day, week or month. Most also host permanent tenants and are part of member networks that unlock o ce space and instant communities when you travel. They usually have a strong startup bent but readily welcome workers of every stripe. These are the inaugural finalists in this category.

Spaces, Melbourne

Natural light floods Spaces in Richmond, one of the first co- working offices to be opened by Amsterdam-headquartered network Spaces outside the Netherlands. The company’s pillars of clean design, great coffee and an eclectic community – “sneakers and suits” – are strong here, with the caffeine coming from locally roasted single-origin beans. Desks, tables and booths in the open-plan Business Club are available for members to access as often as they wish for a monthly fee, which includes events and unlocks access to Business Clubs around the world, including Spaces in Surry Hills, Sydney. The next Australian one, at the T&G Building in Melbourne’s CBD, is due to open in mid-August. A free day trial is available before committing to membership, which starts at $550 per month or $770 a month for a private office. Non-members can access meeting rooms at $286 for half a day.

River City Labs, Brisbane

Founded in 2012 by Steve Baxter — Shark Tank investor and now the Queensland Government’s chief entrepreneur — River City Labs is about growing and commercialising technology startups, with co-working an important layer of that. Accelerator programs and pitch events are the beating heart of River City Labs, which was recently transplanted to a renovated department store in The Precinct, the government’s innovation hub in hip Fortitude Valley, where tenants include CSIRO’s Data61. A desk for a day is $33, while a $220-a-month casual membership includes mentoring and members-only events. Free co-working open days are held on the first Friday of the month.

Flux, Perth

Flux was created for entrepreneurs who’d outgrown Spacecubed (the company’s founding co-working location) but wanted to keep the startup spirit alive. Sprawling over 2800 square metres and four and a half floors, Flux also houses Core Innovation Hub, where members are matched with industry partners from mining, oil and gas to share ideas. Its success led to the Combine Agtech Hub opening in February, focusing on Western Australia’s other key sector. An in-house gym and stacks of bike lockers do their bit to keep the creative oxygen flowing. A desk is $44 a day or $94 a week and a two-person office is $575 a week.

Hub Adelaide

Making excellent use of the high ceilings in the historic Fletcher Jones building in the CBD, Hub Adelaide’s (pictured at top) interior was planned by international design firm Hassell, as were the company’s locations in Sydney and Melbourne, where more Hub sites are scheduled to open. Membership of Hub includes access to all of the operator’s Australian sites and a global network. Desks are $44 a day, casual memberships are $275 for eight days a month and 24/7 dedicated desks start from $440 a month. Applications for Spark, Hub’s mentoring program in conjunction with Renewal SA, open in July.

The Office Space, Sydney

Welcome to co-working heaven, mind the cherry wood. The first option is Paramount, which is the George Clooney of co-working spaces: handsome, private and sophisticated. It’s the companion to Reservoir, The Office Space’s other offering in inner-city Surry Hills. Paramount counts a World Architecture Festival Inside award among its gongs. The gorgeous fit-out was conceived by architectural firm Woods Bagot to be simpatico with the Art Deco style of the heritage building it’s in, which was built for Paramount Pictures in 1940. A casual office for a day (there are no public-area desks) is $165 per person or $2200 per month.

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