If the past 12 months has taught us anything, it’s that we can be flexible about our workspaces. But sometimes when out between the office and home it can help to be aware of your options. In a city like Melbourne, that means knowing the cafes best suited to work stints along with other options for spontaneous productivity, from suitably relaxed libraries to flexible co-working spaces. A spot where all you need is your laptop.

Whatever your need, these five spots you can drop in on will make you feel so cosy you’ll be in no rush to head back to the office, home or anywhere else.

State Library
It might date back to 1856, but Victoria’s State Library has a host of modern work-on-the-run options, from various reading rooms (including the photogenic sweep of the La Trobe Reading Room) to The Quad, the student-friendly information centre. The vibe throughout is reliably low-key, with a focus on productivity. You can also set up shop – or grab a coffee break – at a pair of on-site cafes. There’s Guild Cafe off Russell Street, which includes armchairs, casual work desks, St Ali coffee and an all-day pass for queue-free filter brew. Over on La Trobe Street is Mr Tulk – named after the library’s first librarian. It offers a mix of outdoor seating and long communal tables inside.

Poolhouse Coffee
Named in honour of its prime location below Melbourne City Baths, Poolhouse Coffee is a cosy bolthole just off Victoria Street. A favourite with RMIT students, the cafe boasts clean, open spaces thanks to clever design from co-owner Luke Taylor’s furniture and art company Interspace (Taylor even bent the steel chairs into shape himself). The food options aren’t extensive (think sandwiches and doughnuts) but maintain enough variety to fuel, and the comfy seating is brightly lit and flanked by greenery.

Space & Co
Space & Co is one of the city’s most reliable and accessible co-working options, with multiple CBD locations. Those include spots on Collins and Exhibition, plus its original location in Melbourne Central Tower. With a stated mission to keep its offices spacious and bespoke, Space & Co caters to both bigger groups and industrious individuals. You can get a day pass from $50, while longer stays give you a chance to style your space to your liking. However long you want to stick around, you’ll find access to custom-built workstations, ergonomic office chairs and space for plants and other extras worth returning for.

Hardware Société
Originally launched on Hardware Street, the French-inspired Hardware Société boasts much more space at its current spot near the corner of Flinders and King Streets. Bright and airy, it’s known for its cocktails and upscale brunches – so much so the latter inspired an entire cookbook – but it’s also a great spot to concentrate on your work without feeling crowded or rushed. If you stick around past 3pm on a Friday you might want to stay and cap off the working week with a leisurely dinner.

Liminal
It’s the generous amounts of space that make Liminal a stand-out, from the curved green couches and armchairs to expansive communal tables. A popular destination for breakfast and lunch, Liminal was designed by The Stella Collective and arrives courtesy of The Mulberry Group (of Higher Ground and The Kettle Black fame). Located alongside beloved croissanterie Lune in the historic 161 Collins Street space off Russell, Liminal offers spaces for hosting meetings and events. Whether corralling colleagues or working solo, you couldn’t ask for a more artful setting.

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