It can be lonely when you work for yourself.
I have a perfectly nice office at home, having commandeered the box room at the start of the Pandemic. With all my face-to-face work going online I needed a quiet space for Zoom workshops and 1 to 1 mentoring calls. Our shared attic office room was no longer fit for purpose with both of us under COVID house arrest and still trying to work.
Finally getting out running face to face workshops for Knowle West Media Centre and Cool Ventures this year. I’ve stepped out, bleary eyed and blinking, into the wide world of working in real life alongside other small businesses.
I’ve missed this.
I’m used to shutting myself in my little room. Watching the world through my window. While writing or having calls with clients and associates.
Despite having space at home, when Hollie at House of St John invited me through Linked In to spend the day working at The House of St John co-working space in Bath, I appreciated the excuse to get on a train for a day trip to Bath and take a retreat day with my business.
The House of St John is in a beautiful Georgian listed building on Queen’s Square.
Lavishly and sympathetically refurbished in 2019 and completed in 2021, as a co-working space with a difference.
All profits are gifted to St John’s to help fund community change through the Foundation Fund. The Fund is focused on lessening the educational attainment gap, supporting 0 – 12 year old children. Providing food; a safe place outside of school; behavioural and emotional support and help in reading and writing, oracy, and mathematics.
No. 1 Queen Square was gifted to St John’s Foundation in 1953 by the Whittington’s. It has been a Barclays Bank and a serviced office block in recent times. Its current overhaul was completed in 2021.
The building itself cuts a handsome figure, with commanding views over this iconic Georgian square – Queen Square, Bath.
Being a listed building means that there was little they could to structurally to the building. It is a mix of small, cosy, intimate spaces and grand salons, arranged over 4 floors.
The nooks and crannies have been well designed to create kitchen and washroom facilities on each floor. With large communal kitchen and co-working facilities on the hall floor.
There are a range of characterful and quirky spaces where members can pitch camp for the day and work.
A good mix of large and small spaces.
If you want some quiet space to sit and write, there are dedicated areas, bookable rooms and a library.
If you want somewhere livelier, there is the salon at the entrance, which also has a licensed bar, and the parlour at the back.
There are larger conference style rooms on the first floor. These are open for co-working or can be hired. The top floor is private offices rented by individual businesses.
The rabbit warren of rooms and surprising spaces make for a range of options. The space feels exclusive, boutique and luxurious. But has the quiet buzz of activity, with freelancers coming and going.
At the back is a suntrap courtyard garden, but also an intriguing outdoor cellar space. As they can’t attach anything to the original stonework, they are having bespoke booths built to slot into the recesses under the building to create a quirky outdoor / indoor space.
For anyone cycling into work, there are bike racks in on the basement floor, with a back door directly into changing facilities and a spa style shower room.
Who Works There
While spending the day at the space, I wanted to meet a couple of the members.
To get a sense of the types of businesses working there, I met Lyrica Zhang, who runs Why Not QI Marketing.
Lyrica started the boutique marketing agency in Hong Kong, before moving to Singapore.
She moved to the UK and settled in Bath a couple of weeks ago. She is getting to know her new home and enjoying the city. Such a contrast from the neon and skyscrapers of Singapore.
We chatted about the history of Bath. I recommended some places she should visit; I had to include Bristol, too, of course!
She has grown her freelance business to employ a couple of staff and can officially call herself an international business. With work in the UK and also in Southeast Asia. Lyrica works with a range of business, in particular, tech start-ups.
When she arrived in Bath her first priority was to find a place to work. Then to find a place to live. She Google searched, found House of St John, came for a visit and hasn’t looked back. She has made the most of the opportunities to get to know the other members by attending regular networking events and member breakfasts, keen to make new connections and friends in the city.
Being a member, gives her an exclusive and gorgeous place to work, that fits with her high-end boutique brand.
It was quiet the day I worked from the space. It would benefit from more members to grow the community of businesses.
I’ll be keeping a lookout on the website for future events. I’d like to see them partnering with networking groups and small business support organisations, who could host events and showcase the space to businesses in the Bath area.
There are a range of options for people looking for a stylish place to work or meet clients.
Membership to use the co working space starts at £152 per month, with private office rental prices on request.
The space is ideal for small business owners looking for a little luxury in their business life.
Meet others small business owners, make friends and contribute to a worthwhile cause.
Thanks to the team for hosting me. I had an enjoyable and productive retreat day.