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The Top 5 Spaces for Working Remotely in Toronto

Posted by Erin Bury / February 23, 2010

Centre for Social InnovationFor the nomadic contingent of digital workers in Toronto - small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers who don't have an office space to call their own - working remotely is an everyday reality.

For many, myself included, having a physical office to commute to is part of our weekday lives. Whether it's a small floor of a townhouse (like my office), or a floor in one of Toronto's many towering skyscrapers it means a stable place to work from every day - for better (WiFi! coworkers! a coffeemaker!) or worse (the commute! coworkers!).

But while working in pyjamas at home can be fun, everyone needs to get out into the community sometimes and get a fresh perspective. So where can one go when they want to hold a meeting, work on a project with some background noise, or even find a more permanent space to call their own?

There are countless spots to hook up a laptop and grab a coffee in the city (we already compiled a list of the best cafes for free WiFi in the city), but this list goes beyond those - to the other interesting spaces nomadic working types gather.

CENTRE FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION (pictured above)
CSI was founded in 2004 by Tonya Surman, who wanted to create an incubator for the social mission sector. The coworking space at 215 Spadina has been home to over 100 groups and entrepreneurs in its short history, and the team is currently trying to raise the $1.5 million needed to buy additional space at 720 Bathurst Street. Members can rent one of many different workspace packages that come with access to typical office amenities like high-speed Internet, fax machines and boardrooms, along with the brain power of others in the space. The building is green and airy (living walls anyone?), the people are friendly, and the location is prime - and becoming a member is much less expensive than a typical downtown office rent.
215 Spadina. Ave.

Cloud Free Agent Espresso BarCLOUD FREE AGENT ESPRESSO BAR
Cloud Free Agent Espresso Bar doesn't just want to be a coffee shop. It wants to be a place for free agents in the city - entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners - to gather and work together. Sure, there's the upstairs coffee bar. But there's also a downstairs collaboration space which can be rented by the half hour ($20) or hour ($45) and comes wired for Internet and videoconferencing, as well as a free pot of coffee and 20% off food. Owner Peter Coish hopes the spot will one day be a virtual meeting spot, a hub for like-minded people in Toronto who prefer an untethered business style.
968 Queen St. W

CAMARADERIE
Entrepreneurs or freelancers in Toronto are probably used to working in solitude. If you like having the human aspect of an office but don't want the sky-high prices of a space then new coworking space Camaraderie could be your answer. The space was co-founded by entrepreneur Rachel Young, and caters to the creative class. Camaraderie offers amenities like hot coffee, WiFi, boardrooms and desks for a membership fee of $300 a month, and the open concept floor plan is conducive to collaborating on projects or just engaging in some water-cooler talk. Camaraderie opened its doors just last week, and is holding an open house until February 26th.
102 Adelaide St. E, 2nd Floor

Toronto Reference LibraryTHE TORONTO REFERENCE LIBRARY
Although most of the Toronto Public Libraries are great free spaces to work, the Toronto Reference Library takes the cake for those looking for a workspace away from home. The space is over 416,000 square feet, has four meeting rooms available for rent, and is open until 8:30pm every weekday. There's a coffee stand to get your caffeine fix, an entire floor of newspapers from around the world to get your news, and free WiFi and ample plugs so you can stay connected all the time. And it's only steps away from the Bloor/Yonge TTC station so you don't have to venture far from home.
789 Yonge St.

MaRSDD
THE MARS CENTRE
There's nothing more inspiring than being around other passionate people who are working to achieve great things. That's the constant attitude around MaRS; the goal of the centre is to stimulate and promote innovation. Whether you're starting a business and need resources or advice, or you're looking for event space, or you're looking to join the over 50 tenants in the building MaRS can help come up with a solution. Or, you can just hang out on the bottom floor at one of the tables and enjoy the free guest WiFi - you're sure to bump into other ambitious entrepreneurs who will kick-start your ideas.
101 College St.

MaRS photo: MaRSDD on Flickr. CSI photo: Innovators on Flickr. Toronto Reference Library photo: Metrix X on Flickr.

Discussion

38 Comments

Wes Bos / February 23, 2010 at 11:41 am
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Great list - has anyone worked at CSI? I'm considering signing up for a hot desk and its nice to get away from home every now and then.

I'd love to see a post of free spots that you can squat for 2-3 hours. Anyone have any to share?
Colleen Diamond / February 23, 2010 at 12:01 pm
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Hey Wes,

CSI offers an Innovator for a day program. Come try our the workspace at certain times for free and see if it is a fit for you.

Also, February is also Discover CSI Month, we're offering great deals on Hot Desking Packages to expose more people to the wonderful world of co-working.

Innovator for a day: http://socialinnovation.ca/innovatorforaday

Hot Desk Deals: http://socialinnovation.ca/csimonth#hotdesk

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other Qs.
Kathryn / February 23, 2010 at 12:13 pm
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Hey Wes - I used CSI a couple of years ago while undergoing a renovation at home. I found it pretty good for being able to have a decent spot to land for awhile. I found the phone policy difficult though. It was suggested that if you're going to be on the phone for any length of time that you use one of the two phone booths. I'm on/off the phone all day long so had to keep moving back and forth between a desk and the phone booth. Plus you couldn't book the booths so I was never guaranteed there'd be one available for conference calls. This was a couple years ago so not sure if it's still the same policy.
langford / February 23, 2010 at 03:20 pm
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These places make me want my own business.
Qasim Virjee / February 23, 2010 at 03:33 pm
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Thanks for the post Erin - and for including a picture @ the CSI with me front and center! :)

I've had my office for Design Guru (http://designguru.org) at the CSI for 3 years now and absolutely love working here - highly recommended or anyone looking to work in a social environment where you're surrounded by people making a change in the world every day.

Qasim
Sarah Banks / February 23, 2010 at 03:57 pm
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I just signed up for a hot desk at CSI. Start in April and I can't wait! In fact, I just wrote about it on my blog yesterday....

http://sillpillow.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/hot-desk-in-the-city-runnin-wild-and-workin-pretty/
Andrew F Stewart / February 23, 2010 at 04:36 pm
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While you are at Mars come say hi to Distility Branding on the 3rd floor.

Mars tip: Get to the comfy leather chairs early - they get snatched up fast. Also, the Italian place in the food court has amazing salads!

@AndrewFStewart @1day1brand
Write / February 23, 2010 at 09:07 pm
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You didn't mention the Toronto Writer's Centre:

http://www.writerscentre.ca/

which is suitable for anyone needing quiet office space to work. It's also much cheaper than the other offerings.
Bartek / February 23, 2010 at 09:14 pm
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Thanks for the great post! I'm moving to Toronto in June and will be doing remote work. This post showing up is just perfect :)

CAMARADERIE looks like the most affordable and flexible from the list, but I haven't really looked much into any of them. Very cool, though.
Erin Bury replying to a comment from Write / February 24, 2010 at 06:54 pm
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Hi there,

Thanks for passing on the info about the Toronto Writer's Centre - definitely another great resource for creative types in the city.

Cheers,
Erin
Robert / March 7, 2010 at 07:32 pm
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I used CSI a while ago and had a really bad experience.
And yes if you are on the phone for any length of time, you have to use one of the two phone booths. NOW REALLY!
Also found it to be very noisy and many immature people running around. Let's just say.. one too many Prima donna's working there.

Bad experience, MARS is much better and more civilized I say.
Even the Toronto Public Library is better/cheaper!

Cheers
Sandi / April 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm
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I've used Camaraderie and I really like it. I like the flexibility of the drop-in rate and lots of options for memberships so you can find an option that works best for you. Also the people are friendly, fun, professional. The space is bright, quiet and convenient. All you need to do is show up. It's so easy. www.camaraderie.ca 102 Adelaide St. East
steph / April 30, 2010 at 04:22 pm
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hey, if you are in hamilton - check out the cossart exchange. neat place, and with some great shared workspace (outside of TO!)
Rebecca / May 16, 2010 at 06:18 pm
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ARTSCAPE!
Craig / September 16, 2010 at 07:21 pm
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Longbranch Coworking is a great alternative as well. We just relaunched the space for coworking - on demand office environment for entrepreneurs and creatives - in September. We are similar to Camaraderie and CSI but our located on the west side of Toronto near Kipling and Lakeshore Blvd. I would be happy to answer any questions people have.
Patrick / January 27, 2011 at 02:44 am
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The Green Beanery at Spadina and Bloor is AMAZING! No wifi for free, but great seat along the windows, and you can usually steal wifi from some guy named Ryan's iMac (although it's hit or miss).

I'd say it's one of the best places in the city to eavesdrop on people talking about inspiring things. And there's more than a couple times that I've been sucked into conversations with interesting neighbours.
Patrick / January 27, 2011 at 02:44 am
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The Green Beanery at Spadina and Bloor is AMAZING! No wifi for free, but great seat along the windows, and you can usually steal wifi from some guy named Ryan's iMac (although it's hit or miss).

I'd say it's one of the best places in the city to eavesdrop on people talking about inspiring things. And there's more than a couple times that I've been sucked into conversations with interesting neighbours.
Co Workative / February 8, 2012 at 01:47 am
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Awesome post Erin! Nice information regarding co-working spaces.
A coworking space is a shared space that anyone can use for any kind of quiet work they like. The more you head out to these co-working spaces, the more people you can meet and spread out your name in the industry for potential employers in the future.
Bryan Kennedy / May 31, 2012 at 03:48 pm
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This is a great post! For anyone needing a remote-telework solution please feel free to contact me.
Nicole McKercher / October 2, 2012 at 11:49 am
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Hi,

I'm looking of a small, inexpensive meeting space for a 1-2 day team meeting. Does anyone have any good recos in the Toronto or Durham area?
Nolan Ryder / October 25, 2012 at 04:39 pm
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Great blog. These all look like awesome and great places to work in Toronto. Any office with wifi available is preferable, a benefit to both employees and clients. Trying to find office space for rent in toronto is a jungle, but this blog inspires great ideas.
ricuoundirm / December 11, 2012 at 11:26 pm
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Manjit / December 30, 2012 at 10:56 am
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We are students and require three small meeting rooms in preferably down town Toronto or nearby, about 8'x8'or 10'x10' to practice multi mini interviews, charge based on daily basis. Each rooms can be empty or with a small folding table and two chairs.
Darryl cronk replying to a comment from Nicole McKercher / January 9, 2013 at 11:57 pm
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Probably a bit late, but for the Durham folks... The Whitby Public Library offers free private study rooms. The standard rooms (maybe 6 in total are for up to 2 people. There are also 2 larger group study rooms that could easily accomodate 4- 6 or more people.

Rooms are avail on a first come basis and there are no fees. Wifi is free and doesn't even require a library card. Rooms include power outlets, although phones are not included and are likely not desired due to potential noise carry over into neighbouring rooms.

I work often from this location and it suits my needs as far as a squatting space with privacy, wifi,etc.

Not a true office space... But still a welcome resource that saves on a daily commute to the office.

andy / January 11, 2013 at 01:46 pm
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A new kid on the block for all you LES Torontoians is Co-lab.co an exclusive community of independent creatives, collaborating in Toronto's lower east side.

We just got some new workstations in from $349 a month.
Me replying to a comment from andy / January 11, 2013 at 02:58 pm
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So, workspace for Lesbians only?
Dan / January 11, 2013 at 03:20 pm
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I don't know if it's just me, but the wireless at Toronto Reference Library was painfully slow when I used to go there.

Anyone know if it's improved recently?
Yaza replying to a comment from Dan / January 23, 2013 at 03:25 pm
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@Dan - no. Refresh refresh refresh, text only webpage.
I love the standing up workspace, but the WiFi is abysmal. You'd have more luck sending email by carrier pigeon.
Bryan replying to a comment from Bryan Kennedy / February 13, 2013 at 05:49 pm
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We are a team of like-minded entrepreneurs in the communications industry, helping start-ups, entrepreneurs’, agents, free-lancers to achieve a work-life-balance with the ability to work from anywhere. Contact me directly to find out how we can help you. Email: bryan.kennedy@phoenixnetworks.ca or call me 416.309.1123 ext 227
Dan replying to a comment from Yaza / February 18, 2013 at 11:27 am
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Thanks Yaza. Shame that after all the money they put in the renovation, they couldn't put any into decent Wifi, it's not like the Internet is that important or anything, jeez.
HélèniqueToday / April 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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The number for Cloud Free Agent isn't connected (416-792-6831). Have they gone out of business? No Facebook page either.
Oliver Pauk / April 11, 2013 at 04:15 pm
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akincollective.com
Amir / September 6, 2013 at 03:02 pm
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GizmoLabs offers space for professionals, entrepreneurs and startups, and students with space to work and connect. visit www.gizmolabs.ca
Keith / October 8, 2013 at 04:45 pm
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I can confirm the Wifi still sucks at the Toronto Reference Library (this message was actually sent by pigeon carrier)
David Hanson / October 30, 2013 at 01:48 pm
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Does anyone know of any good co-working locations in Mississauga/Oakville?
Stephanie / December 19, 2013 at 01:04 pm
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Opened September 2013, MakeWorks Coworking Studio and Event Space is located on College, just west of Dufferin. We've got all the coworking perks, plus free popcorn and access to 3D printing! Full membership is $300/mth, day-passes are available, and private office space is coming in early 2014. Contact us for a free trial day.
Stephanie replying to a comment from Stephanie / December 19, 2013 at 01:04 pm
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www.makeworks.com
Sarah / December 19, 2013 at 04:26 pm
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