During my last year in Glasgow, I was a member of Collabor8te, a city centre coworking space.
Toronto to Glasgow
In 2010, my husband and I left Toronto and moved to Glasgow, only an hour’s drive from where his family is based. He had a good job lined up and I had what I thought was a solid lead for myself. However, once we’d moved, the job lead fell through. The Scottish economy was in shambles and nobody in the comatose construction industry—or in any other sector I could write a convincing cover letter for—wanted to hire someone on a spouse visa with foreign degrees and foreign work experience. After a year of frustration and disappointment, I gave up my conventional job search.
I started a freelance writing business and within two years, I had 10 subcontractors, a website and enough cash flow to consider occasionally working from somewhere other than home. Sometimes I worked at neighbourhood coffee shops, but they were noisy – packed with new moms and their babies as well as people with laptops – two not-so-compatible groups. I didn’t feel good about using a table for hours without buying drinks regularly, and buying drinks regularly could get expensive. Of course, most coffee shops aren’t places where you can comfortably introduce yourself to other people, so they don’t really provide interaction or camaraderie, except occasionally with the staff.
Coffee shop to E-Spark to Collabor8te
Coffee shops are not ideal workplaces, and they’re not ideal places to have meetings, either, but I used them for both. Then I remembered Sarah’s invitation. Perhaps the coworking phenomenon had spread to Glasgow? When I first started looking at the options in late 2013, I didn’t find any active coworking spaces. However, I did find Entrepreneurial Spark, a business accelerator. I went through the program and learned a lot, but when it was over, I was stuck at home again. That’s when I discovered that the coworking scene in Glasgow had transformed in the space of six months: Collabor8te and The Distillery at Whiskey Bond had both opened their doors.
Collabor8te has a fantastic location in the city centre, easy to reach by train or bus—or on foot, if I felt ambitious. I liked the idea of going downtown for work as I’d done for most of my life, but not just because of habit. A good city centre like Glasgow’s is a vibrant, interesting place to explore, meet for dinner or drinks, shop, and enjoy art and live music.
I joined Collabor8te after visiting for a day and attending a free workshop in their space.
Collabor8te has wonderful people. There are consultants, tradespeople, writers, solicitors, accountants, and professionals in many other fields. When I was in Glasgow, members included a small business export advisor, the publisher of a local advertising-funded paper and a guy who specialised in dealing with problem tenants. There was an online marketing expert and a property developer who was based elsewhere but was often in town for business. Some people had their own companies and others were remote workers.
Collabor8te doesn’t specialise in a particular industry, and that means there’s an interesting mix of people and occupations. Members range from recent university graduates to seasoned professionals. If you’re in Glasgow, I highly recommend it.
Collabor8te has a great vibe and its diversity is an asset. Since my business required me to concentrate on writing and editing, I didn’t go there every day, but I loved the couple of days a week that I used the Collabor8te coworking space. It really won me over to coworking as a concept and to non-industry-specific coworking spaces in particular.
Next: Another Move