Comment and opinion: your take on what’s happening in the workhub world
As a pioneer Jelly organiser in 2009, and author of the How to Start Your Own Jelly Guide, which has been used by groups all over the world, I’m sometimes asked for advice by workhub managers wanting to start their own Jelly.
To make a success of this it is essential you are not seen to be using Jelly as a cynical marketing exercise. Having organised many Jellys in a workhub, and observed the differing fortunes of others, I strongly recommend that you follow these guidelines:
- To my mind one of the basic principles is that Jelly is free. So don’t charge for entry or wifi access. I appreciate you may need to charge to cover your costs but then please call it a coworking day, not a Jelly, the way Space on Tap had always done with its events in north-east England. Depending on the venue attendees may of course need to pay for refreshments, just as they would if they took their laptop to a local cafe.
- The second main principle is that Jelly is not about selling or pitching. That applies to you as much as to those attending it. So don’t be tempted to add your workhub’s name to the Jelly name. Call it after the town or area you’re in. If people think it’s a marketing exercise they may not turn up for fear of being subjected to someone’s sales pitch.
- Jelly is not about making a space available and leaving people to get on with it. It needs an organiser to welcome people, answer questions and keep the energy flowing throughout the day.
- Ideally find a local freelancer to act as organiser. That way you simply provide the venue and lessen the risk of your Jelly coming across as a recruitment drive for your workhub.
- Make sure at the outset that you can afford to make the room available once a month for more than just a few months. You risk damaging goodwill if you pull out just as the group is building momentum.
- Following on principle number two, inviting a consultant to ‘be available to answer your questions on marketing/design/websites/accounting’ etc is not a good idea. Home workers are a shrewd bunch so will see through the spin - ‘local consultant is looking for new clients’ - and vote with their feet. For the same reason it’s best not to ask someone to give a talk.
- Don’t be too concerned if the group builds slowly. The concept of Jelly may need some explanation early on but word does get around and numbers will grow.
Get it right and the Jelly group at your workhub will thrive. It is a great way for you to make yourself known in the community and attract new tenants, on their own impetus.
The Old Church School, my local workhub in Frome, typically gets an enquiry after each event and regularly welcomes new tenants who discovered it through Jelly. Get it wrong and you will be left wondering why it never took off when you’ve heard it’s so popular in other places.
Workhubs Network adds: We’d like to add our own plug for anyone wanting seriously authoritive advice on home-based working. Judy’s 2009 book, Work From Home, covers everything from the hard-nosed practicals of running a business to organising your working day, staying motivated and controlling the unwanted interruptions of household, climate and tempting distractions.
I had the great privilege of meeting up with Christophe Morin, founder of ‘Neuromarketing’ who came over from San Francisco to launch his genius in the UK last month. Absolutely fascinating stuff!
So what‘s neuromarketing all about then?
What Christophe has scientifically proven is that there is such a thing as a ‘buy button’ in the brain...and what’s more, it’s actually relatively simple to find...once you know how!
So, how do you find it then?
Well, apparently the brain is made up essentially of three components: the new brain, the middle brain and the old brain.
The new brain is the ‘thinking’ part of our brain... where we make sense of everything through logic, reason and rationale.
And it just so happens to be the largest part of our brain, so it’s where practically every business on the planet formulates their strategy and rationalises their decision making (and we don’t always get it right do we?).
Well, apparently that’s because we are searching in the wrong place!
The middle brain is the ‘emotional’ part of our brain... where we process our feelings and emotional reactions to the world around us and inside us. However, that’s not the decision maker!
The key is in the old brain...often called ‘reptilian’ brain because it evolved earlier than the middle and new brain...and apparently all reptiles and animals have one.
While it is the smallest part of our brain, it is the place that’s singularly responsible for the brain’s primary function...survival.
This is the place that instinctively sniffs out pain and fear in a less than a nano second and determines ‘fight or flight’...in other words ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
So why the hell is this really important to our businesses?
Well, don’t we all want our customers to buy from us...and quickly? We don’t want to wait 12 years for a deal to come off do we?
Think about the last time you made a decision to buy a product or service...what was it that made your choice attractive enough for you to buy. How long did it take you to decide?
Well, if a business gets its ‘message’ to hit the old brain square on, then the decision is likely to be a very quick one.
If the ‘message’ is hitting the other two parts of our brain instead, then the decision will probably take longer, perhaps with some confusion along the way.
Here’s how it works...
To reach the old brain, your ‘message’ to your customer needs to provide a visual contrast that quickly connects with the ‘pain’ that your customer needs to move away from.
The ‘message’ has to hit their agenda...not yours. ‘Before and after’ pictures can be really effective at this.
Pain? What do you mean by ‘pain’ I hear you ask.
Well, think about those seat belt adverts...when people are driving along merrily one moment and then the driver’s son smashes straight through the front windscreen to his death the next.
That visual is appealing directly to the old brain’s pain and it’s not even showing a seat belt.
It is showing you how you could lose life and cause death by not wearing one. That’s the pain I’m talking about.
Check out www.salesbrain.com
Remember...no pain, no gain!
Till next time,
You can also follow me on twitter @rudewoman
Read the full article here:
Tim Dwelly, puts the trend in context and asks: what facilities do these free agent businesses need to thrive?
It will come as no surprise to Freelancing Matters readers to hear that the UK workforce has been shifting fast towards ‘free agent’ working over the last ten years. Interestingly there has also been a big shift to working from home.
We have used Labour Force Survey figures to show that, between the two census years of 2001 and 2011, the number of self-employed homeworkers in the UK rose by 24% to over 2.3 million.
This group, what we might term live/work businesses, is the fastest growing part of the workforce. In stark contrast the number of commuting employees rose by only 1.9% in the same period. In many regions and counties where live/work business is prevalent, the contrast is even bigger.
In Cornwall, for example, self-employed homeworking rose 88% between 2001 to 2011 while commuting employment fell 6%.
Despite all the hard evidence, many of those in economic development (often commuting employees of large organisations) continue to think that the UK economy depends upon large ‘high growth’ companies with staff who travel to a workplace.
I beg to differ. The combined power of micro entrepreneurs in the UK who sensibly choose to work from home is not to be sniffed at. And it’s incredibly good news for carbon reduction too (let’s leave that for another blog).
Those who work mainly at/from home are overwhelmingly likely to be self-employed or running a company – at least two thirds of the total, the data shows. Why? Simply because it’s more affordable, more convenient and (in an age of rapidly advancing technology) the equipment needed is easy and cheap to get.
These ‘workers’, to use an old Marxist analysis, now control their own means of production. They own their own computers, iphones, scanners, printers etc. They can communicate with a global market via broadband. And they can subcontract to associates rather than take on staff. Why wouldn’t you run a business from home?
Not only do we (I am one of them) represent over 40% of all businesses and most start-ups in the UK. We are also the pioneers of flexible working. If councils, government departments and big companies want to know how flexible working works best, surely they should ask the people who do it? Or even – here’s radical – consider whether to employ contractors not staff more in the future?
But it’s not all rosy. What about the downsides of working this way? Isolation, invisibility, family life intruding (and vice versa), problems using a home that was never designed as a workspace. These are the challenges. How can they be tackled?
One answer is to join a workhub.
These are workspaces offering membership, not just permanent workspace. They offer facilities such as meeting rooms, video conferencing and other high end equipment. Workhubs are fast emerging all over the UK to support live/work businesses, as numbers rise.
On workhubs.com, google maps show where workhubs are available and what they offer. An ‘office when needed’, workhubs are the equivalent of a business gym: members sharing great equipment rather than each buying their own. They are surely the future of workspace, especially for those running live/work businesses.
At their best workhubs are also beehives of collaboration and networking. Unlike the local Costa or Café Nero, there is no background music and you will often know who those people are on the sofa nearby doing business with their laptops.
Workhubs offer the kind of business buzz you just won’t get in your home. And you can access it when and how you want to.
I’ve worked from home for years and strongly believe in the potential of home working to tackle many of our social, economic and environmental problems, and to enhance people’s quality of life.
However, I’m also well aware that spending a lot of time alone in a home office can have a disastrous effect on enthusiasm and productivity. It’s easy to lose sight of goals and let things drift, while also losing confidence and the sense of possibility that mixing with others provides.
One way to overcome this insidious slide is to book time at a workhub to work in the company of other freelancers and home workers. In fact a combination of quiet time at home for concentration, interspersed with some coworking time, may be the ideal balance for many home workers.
It might take some time to get used to the buzz of a workhub if you’re used to working on your own. You may be easily distracted by people talking face-to-face or on the phone, so start with routine jobs that don’t demand too much application. For example, it’s the ideal opportunity to sort out and record all those receipts you’ve been piling up, to embark on some computer housekeeping, or to surf the net for research.
Bear in mind that you’re here for the company as much as anything so give yourself time to chat to find out what your coworkers do. They can be a valuable source of advice, encouragement and future work opportunities. Never underestimate the motivating power of a problem shared!
You’ll find that you do get used to focusing on work while people are moving and talking around you, and you’ll lose initial inhibitions about making phone calls yourself. You might find that being in more than one place helps with organising your workload too as it becomes clearer when you need quiet time to write or plan, and when you can do the routine jobs.
Even if your nearest workhub is miles away, it might be worth considering a regular trip there for a day of meetings and making connections. Time away from the home office always pays rich dividends in my experience, bringing renewed energy and inspiration.
There’s never been a better time to be a home worker. Social media keeps us connected even when we’re physically miles apart and workhubs provide affordable locations when we need company. Makes me wonder how on earth we managed back in the twentieth century!
Judy Heminsley is starting monthly evening meetups for home workers at Central, the new workspace off Tottenham Court Road in London, from Thursday 23 June. Come along if you’re already working from home, and think you could do it better, or if you’re thinking of working from home.
It’s quite simply ridiculous.
Launching a business into the world’s leading business hub (America, that is... sorry workhubs) from an 18’ x 12’ former bedroom in my home... ‘What are you thinking, Sarah??’ ‘Got ideas above your station again, have we??’
Who’d have said it would ever be possible to make a name for yourself in a massive country across the Atlantic Ocean, from the comfort of your own home?
Well, thanks to Bill Gates, Royal Mail and Alexander Graham Bell it’s been a bit of a doddle really. Well I say doddle. The phones, internet and delivery logistics all work a treat. It’s just sometimes the lonesome decision-making doesn’t always pay off!
That aside, it’s truly amazing how global possibilities have opened up to pint-sized businesses these days. When things don’t go as planned in one country (and believe me, I know all about that!) it really is possible to literally take a giant leap of faith and try your luck in another one.
Ok, admittedly, you do need to have a product that fits their market, a way of accessing that market and a way of delivering to that market – and perhaps one or two champions IN that market!
But, how does one achieve global presence from your armchair?
Well, it’s all about projection. How do you want your business to show up? How do you want potential customers to perceive you? Who do YOU want to be doing business with and what are THEY going to need to see in your business to hook them in?
And there’s one, very simple answer to it all...your web presence.
'Til next time,
Thank you, lovely workhub types for helping us seedlings connect, project and grow!
What a day! Here are my impressions of last Friday:
Blue sky and sunshine at 7.30 am, what a start, hope it’s an omen. Jelly green banners going up, badges to sort, muffins laid out next to coffee for arrivals, trade stands to explore.
The doors open to the soundtrack of the Shropshire Jelly video filmed last week at Enterprise HQ – ‘It ain’t about the money, money..we just want to make the world dance…’
Jelly beans to munch, Emma Jones in a great pair of boots, down-to-earth and inspirational at the same time.
Louise Findlay-Wilson, aptly named PrPro, that new haircut and colour fooled us completely, we were expecting a longhaired blonde, how shameful not to recognise your own speaker. People scribbling notes with fat green BIG Jelly pens.
‘Move in together. Bit more. A bit to the left. Big smile please.’
12 o’clock and Brown Bags lined up, actually I’m hungry, ploughmans sounds just the job. You’ve got a banana, I’ve got a pear, mm, chocolate roll, nice.
The Jelly session, oh my goodness that’s Caroline from Wales and…Verity from Edinburgh, lovely to meet you at last. And Judy, all the way from Normandy to pick up tips on starting Jelly en France.
And here’s Daniel, our third speaker, here despite train strikes and late taxis, better feed the man and find him a quiet place to work before his talk.
Back to the Main Hall for the Q&A, Gavin chairs it with his usual humour and aplomb. Introducing Daniel, stealing one of his own introductions – ‘He’ll share his knowledge in direct proportion to the applause he receives’ – much clapping.
Daniel has the audience in the palm of his hand. I’ve heard the content of the talk several times before, but I’m still gripped and realise he’s down walking about in front of the tables and I’d never even noticed him leave the stage.
But better close it down now, only 5 minutes after the schedule, although people seem happy to keep asking questions and he to answer them. After Fay’s closing remarks she comes down from the stage and gives us both a hug. We’ve done it and it was great!
‘Big smile please’
Happy, excited people clutching Key Person of Influence books and a bag of jelly beans to fuel the journey home. ‘What a fantastic day. When’s the next one?’
Packing of boxes and cloths taken off tables. Poor Rob, the AV man is the first to arrive and the last to leave. A large glass of white wine in the bar – thanks, Jan!
Maybe not the world, but today we made part of Shropshire dance and that’s good enough for me....
It's 9.30 am and I’m on the train from Leighton Buzzard to London. It's a really quick route these days, 36 minutes from door to door so I don't have very much time to write this, but being the chief bottle washer at a very busy little workhub I have to grab every opportunity to write a blog or tweet a bit.
Running a workhub isn't all I do. I own a small business-to-business design agency and I'm also employed by a recruitment firm as their marketing director.
From conversations with other small workhub operators my situation is not unusual. Most of us started up our workhubs on the back of another business, seeing opportunities to develop interesting spaces into places interesting people could work in.
Whenever I meet another multiple hat wearing workhub owner I see that same frazzled expression that can't quite mask the satisfied glint in their eye...
FunkBunk has been a hive of activity over the last week. Everyone seems to be busier than they can cope with and there is talk of growth floating around the studios.
I tend to be the first one in in the mornings so I can stock up the amenities, but this last week when I've arrived at 7am there have already been people in, clutching coffee and blinking at their screens in the way that only someone who started work at 5am will do.
This busyness equates to a great atmosphere in the open plan rooms. Stress is eased with humour and advice is shared, helping anyone overcome the stickiest of situations. The only problem with everyone being so busy is that no one has time for a beer on Friday!
It seems like ages since we ran a social event here at FunkBunk and with the head count steadily rising we are working on ideas for a social event to tie in with a charity such as the 'Help Creatives Re-Create' (by Design Taxi).
The aim is to help other creatives who have had their livelihoods disrupted by the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand.
Good times for good causes.
The familiar comfort of my home office was left unoccupied today as I made for my local workhub, Enterprise HQ, in the heart of Ironbridge - a world heritage site.
This workhub has the luxury of being set in the heart of the beautiful Shropshire countryside adjacent to the River Severn, with the bonus of onsite, free car parking.
This was my first ever Jelly; Jan Minihane, the Shropshire Jelly co-ordinator and organiser of The BIG Jelly welcomed me at the door and offered me the choice of two areas where I could work from.
The gound floor lounge area was packed with coworkers at their laptops so I opted for the top floor where I made myself comfortable at a large, contemporary board room table.
The smell of freshly percolating coffee and warm rock cakes, the local pieces or art on the walls and the view of the River Severn out of the window made my first Jelly just perfect.
The buzz in the room was electric; freelancers from a wide variety of industries swapped ideas, picked each others brains and the isolations of homeworking were long forgotten as conversations flowed freely.
Lunch, an understated brown paper bag, boasted warm soup, a sandwich, crisps, a chocolate bar and fruit. Fresh tea and coffee continued to flow throughout the day.
Compared to my normal, quiet, solitary day, Jelly coworking was exciting, noisy, fun and productive - I can't wait to attend next month's session.
Jelly has caught on in the UK in the last 18 months, with more than 60 groups springing up from Norwich to north Wales and Edinburgh to Plymouth.
So much so that Shropshire Jelly founder Jan Minihane had the idea for a national event to bring together coworking fans, home workers and small business owners wishing to learn and collaborate.
She invited me and Fay Easton, who operates Enterprise HQ, the Ironbridge workhub that hosts some of the Shropshire Jellys, to co-organise The BIG Jelly, as we named it.
This project has made me even more aware of the benefits, both personal and business, of workhubs and coworking to the lone freelancer or small business owner.
From a logistical point of view the event has been facilitated by the same technology that makes coworking possible.
Living in Somerset, there’s no way I would have been able to participate without regular Skype calls, file-sharing and emails, and all of our research was done online.
It wouldn’t have worked either without the collaboration and cooperation inherent in coworking. We have all been amazed and humbled by the generosity and goodwill of the small businesses we invited to contribute.
Even in these tough times they have been helpful and ready to give us the best deals so we could keep costs down as much as possible for this not-for-profit event.
Two or three brains really are better than one! Whenever one of us has been stumped, another has been able to come up with an answer or at least a (wo)man who can. And if not, at least being stumped in company feels less lonely.
We’ve all contributed our fair share of brainwaves too, and thrashed out any grey areas that might have foxed us individually.
Putting together an event of this size takes a lot of time and effort and inevitably there are setbacks and disappointments. Coping with those alone is hard, but picking up the phone and chewing it over puts everything into perspective again.
Working in a team makes you push beyond your comfort zone and try for so much more than you’d ever attempt on your own. Sharing the doubts and risks helps to minimise them and gives you the courage to push on.
I’m used to working alone and relying on my own resources so this project has been an eye-opener in revealing the possibilities of remote collaboration and the generosity of small businesses.
I talk about it often, but there’s nothing like personal experience to drive the lesson home.
I urge you to experience it for yourself by checking out your local workhub, going along to (or starting) your local Jelly or joining us for an information and inspiration-packed day at The BIG Jelly in Telford on Friday 25 March.
While government ministers and business leaders debate how best to encourage start-ups and support small business, UK home workers, freelancers and micro business owners are busily cooking up their own remedy for staying healthy in these difficult times.
A report by Deskwanted, an online marketplace for coworking desk space, found that the number of coworking spaces almost doubled worldwide in 2010, and predicts another 50% rise over this year.
The driving force, they say, has been rising numbers of freelancers and small start-ups in the wake of recession.
Coworking magazine Deskmag has carried out a global survey into the motivations of coworkers.
Its preliminary findings, reported in December 2010, that 'at least 42% of all coworkers... report earning a higher income since joining a coworking space'.
Since the end of 2009 the number of Jelly coworking events in the UK has risen from a couple to more than 60 a month.
Jelly is not an organisation. It is simply an idea that anyone with enough enthusiasm can put into practice, so there are no statistics to quantify its positive results.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests it is producing new projects as well as reducing isolation among home workers.
Business and performance coach Michaela Hardwick and HR consultant Kay Heald met at a Jelly at Enterprise HQ in Coalport in April 2010.
The Jelly not only enabled them to put names to faces, but gave them a valuable opportunity to find out more about each other’s work and how they wanted to grow their businesses.
Nearly nine months later, they are preparing for their first workshop collaboration.
There are no figures for the number of home workers and freelancers taking up regular coworking space after attending Jelly, although workhub operator Gavin Eddy of Forward Space comments: ‘Our experience has been that we get at least one follow–up enquiry from every Jelly event.’
It seems micro business owners regard regular coworking and its financial, social and professional benefits as just the healthful brew they need to emerge from the recession in good shape.
This autumn I hoped against hope for a mild winter, as I have for the last few years, and once again I’ve been disappointed.
As a home worker I find extremely cold, snowy weather depressing and unproductive for several reasons:
- Sitting at a computer all day, no matter how many garments I layer on, is a guaranteed way to end up chilled to the bone
- That quiet eeriness of snow makes me feel insular and isolated. Little passing traffic and few pedestrians can make business life seem a long way away.
- It’s tempting to stay at home if it’s freezing cold. It can seem like too much of an effort to pile on even more layers of outdoor clothing, scrape the windscreen, warm up the car or gingerly pick your way down the road. And staying at home day after day compounds the feeling of being cut off.
Many home workers look forward to attending Jelly in their local workhub but in this cold weather a coworking community offers much more than a monthly respite from the well-known demands of home working.
All the workhubs I’ve ever been in have been beautifully warm on even the coldest days, with more heat than I could ever afford in my home office. It makes a nice change to work without gloves and hot water bottles.
Working in a community of freelancers and small business owners is a good way to feel part of something dynamic and connected to the real world.
You’ll meet the regular occupants of the workhub desks and offices, gain valuable contacts, get some advice or even some work. Just overhearing snatches of other people’s conversations can give you a new take on long-standing problems.
With a reason to leave home and a time to arrive for your session at the workhub you get a structure for the day that you may not have working from home.
The trek through the snow doesn’t seem so bad when you get to compare stories with other hardy coworkers. As we all know, extreme weather brings out the best in us Brits and makes us much more talkative and helpful.
I wonder if workhubs experience a spike in occupation during spells of bad weather? Maybe it’s an angle they could use for marketing, particularly if the run of bad winters continues. As for me, I’m hoping against hope that next year is going to be mild...
The upside of the arctic conditions has been the most amazing drive to a workhub anywhere in the world! See gorgeous images here.
After this breathtaking journey, the warmth of the workhub did attract a few brave souls and a few more have enthusiastically taken up our New Year New Desk offer.
Hub working is becoming increasingly popular in this enterprising county and we’ve even found space for a couple more pods. Our lovely weekend builders worked night and day to convert two more serviced spaces on the ground floor.
That’s probably the last of the floor area we can use for tenancies and we look forward longingly to the day when we can put our garden pods into the woodlands – just waiting for the weather to warm up.
Christmas trees and lights now adorn The Mezzanine and Enterprise Lounge and the 20 delegates who booked a place at our self-employment courses have loved the festive surrounds.
Lorraine, as ever, has kept the whole EHQ show on the (icy) road, baking, managing and motivating! Our own Irish Wonder Woman.
There’s growing interest in Jelly co-working with the January event already booked up. There’s also much excitement over the imminent announcement of Big Jelly UK in Telford next March. Tickets will be available in the coming week and our own Jelly Queen, Jan Minihane, is breaking the web design speed record to get the website up and running.
Every day, there’s more and more talk across social media about ‘everyday entrepreneurs’. We see them ‘every day’ and it’s good to know that their value is being acknowledged.
These fabulous ‘everyday entrepreneurs’ really are the backbone of the UK economy and are busy putting Britain back in business. We only wish the print media would cover a few of the uplifting stories to help drive confidence up during this season of goodwill.
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