Supported By @CreativeCardiff
The idea is taking off: you can work for yourself – that’s the new reality that the technological revolution of the past 10 or 20 years has allowed us.
The question is ‘Where can you work for yourself?’
The idea of the nicely designed office has great appeal: a warm room, nice desk chair, free coffee and office chatter at the metaphorical water cooler.
But when you’re the sole employee of your business or it’s just two or three of you, an office is an expensive luxury.
Fortunately, Cardiff reflects that and we’ve got loads of alternative where you can work for free or almost free. We’ve put together some of the best.
Milgi is best known for being a bustling night time venue full of arty types looking to make it or of students looking for something a bit different to do with their night.
That’s only half the story though.
This amazing little cafe/bar opens at 12pm most days and there’s a great six hour block of calm before the night kicks off. The ambience of the cafe is conducive to creativity and the food and drinks menu is completely different from anywhere else in Cardiff.
With a nice playlist of world music curated by the bar staff, you can switch off and not worry about fiddling about with your iPod.
Upsides: Nice ambience, creative community, good food and drink
Downsides: Opens at midday
If you’re after something a little less edgy, The Gate Arts Centre in Roath is probably just up your street. Attracting an eclectic mix of 20somethings, mothers with babies, OAPs and local dignitaries, the cafe at The Gate is a light, open space where you can usually have your pick of table.
It’s the sort of place where no-one will bother you if you buy a cup of coffee and then sit with an empty mug all day while you suck the life out of the free WiFi.
Make sure you try the Breakfast Panini – a full breakfast inside a panini.
Upsides: Light space, great if you need to add people to your workparty
Downsides: Unpredictably noisy – avoid days when mothers and toddlers take over
The Pear Tree
Recently, we spoke to Laura Sorvala of PlayARK and asked her which public spaces she would recommend for working.
“I live in Roath and I use the Pear Tree pub. Most of my meetings have been there and I’ve had my mapping sessions with people there because there it’s circular and when you go upstairs you can find a quiet spot with furniture that you don’t have to feel too careful with and it feels open,” she said. “You can find a corner where you can work. It’s fine if people are having meals, it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s because part of their decor is a feeling of messiness: it’s OK to come and hang out. As a local, that would be my number one.”
Need we say anymore?
Upsides: Comfy spaces, cosy corners. Try the chilli nuts.
Downsides: It can feel a bit expensive sometimes.
Sure, it’s a little bit out there. You have to take a bus or drive out to Culverhouse Cross if you want to use it, but IndyCube is Cardiff’s only designated coworking space at the moment.
If you’re looking for a day away from the cafe culture or the distractions of the city, IndyCube could be just for you.
Work alongside media types, illustrators, developers in a beautiful modernist building (although the architecture isn’t to everyone’s taste).
Unfortunately, working at IndyCube isn’t free so you’ll need to be bringing in a little bit of money to be able to pay for your desk space.
Upsides: Free coffee, ever changing colleagues, creche service (if you’ve got children to take care of)
Downsides: Not free (but it’s not expensive either), far out of the city centre.
This one’s not for everyone but it’s how I work on Plastik Magazine – so I can testify to the comfort at least.
It’s nice not to have to commute or walk in the rain to a tubelit office and it’s also nice not to pay £4.50 to eat lunch or £1.65 for a slightly sour black coffee.
That being said for those prone to distraction of the washing up or the television/gaming system of your choice, it’s not ideal and will take quite a lot of character building discipline.
It can also get a bit lonely if you’re not out and about interviewing people regularly like us.
Upsides: No walk to work, free lunch,
Downsides: Distractions abound as does the temptation never to wash again.