Let's just get right to the point. This is what "Urban Office" is.
If you are looking for:
- A cheap, temporary working space for a morning or afternoon on your laptop;
- Decent Wi-Fi;
- Unlimited coffee;
- Something dirt cheap;
- No judgements.
Here comes Urban Office, a web-based booking service, to sort you out.
Log on to their website, book a table at a participating restaurant, cafe, or office space, lay down between 30rmb-60rmb, and you get a working space in a high-end venue for half of a day, with (mostly) unlimited coffee and / or tea (depending on the specific venue).
So, this is good for people who want to work in a cafe but don't want to drop a couple hundred kuai on 2, 3, 4, or 5 cups of coffee, but also feel guilty about nursing a single cup of coffee for the 2, 3, 4, or 5 hours it takes to get that assignment done.
You know that guilt. You've got like one centimeter's worth of coffee left in your mug and you're just letting it sit there, because HEY.
"I'm still drinking that."
Basically, Urban Office turns F&B spaces into co-working spaces by providing a coffee machine and tea bags. You may consume as much as you want.
Did you know French writer Honoré de Balzac claimed to consume 50 cups of coffee a day?
One guess how that turned out!
Urban Office. You are also allowed to bring two guests for one hour per session (who may also have unlimited tea and coffee!!). All the venues ensure they have stable Wi-Fi and enough power outlets. Sometimes there are even special lunch or afternoon tea sets for co-working users. Make sure you pay attention to the individual venue's offering — some don't let you have the unlimited coffee. Most do. Or at least they offer enough of it.
How to Book:
You pick a venue and a time slot at www.urbanoffice.cn. There is a selection of restaurants or coffee shops in town, offering varying degrees of pleasantness in terms of working environments. Once you've paid, you will receive an SMS. The process is done, simple as that.
We paid 40rmb for an afternoon from 2pm to 6pm in Element Fresh at K.Wah Center.
We showed the waiter our booking confirmation, and then they asked us to sit wherever we'd like. K.Wah's Element Fresh is very spacious with two floors. There's also a cute terrace, but sadly it was already too damn hot. Other venues, such as Liquid Laundry, normally have a fixed area at the back particularly for Urban Office, where the music is quieter than the front.
Once seated, we started doing our laptop thing. No one asked us anything during the time slot. Excellent. After 5.30pm, people gradually came in to have dinner. Still, no one bitched about us not ordering. Most excellent. Since this is a relatively new service, we observed that there were only two guests apart from us that came here to work. The area was quiet and the process was delightful.
So... What's the Difference Between This and Just Going Somewhere?
Well. Things happen. You can never guarantee that you will be able to get a seat in a nice F&B space with quick Wi-Fi. Also, the aforementioned guilt of taking up said seat for hours without paying it forward to the venue. Maybe you just can't live with that?
Congrats, you're a good person. Here you go, freelancers, students, assorted cafe laptop people — here's Urban Office.