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One element of running my own business that I love is the flexibility of where I choose to work. I have a home office, sometimes I work in my kitchen or (in the summer) in the garden. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I would often join other local business owners to work together in a local café.
Many of you are now experiencing “working from home” for the first time and may well be seeing it as a permanent part of your working life, going forward. Does this worry you? Are you already feeling a bit lonely or desperate to get out.
I’m hearing stories of homeworking improving mental health and productivity, so all those firms who previously told staff they couldn’t work from home - as they needed to monitor what everyone was up to – are now eating their words.
Of course, it’s not all great. Not everyone has an ideal home environment to set up a homeworking space and many find it too quiet and isolating.
Humans are essentially herd animals – we love company.
This is why I think we could see the growth of local co-working spaces. I am already seeing local cafes offering to rent table space (and wi-fi access) to those wanting to spend half a day (or more) working in their space.
The one big issue for me is that I don’t use public wi-fi networks for working on my laptop (security is not a dirty word!). I am also careful that people cannot see confidential information on my laptop screen. So, I tend to do a piece of non-client work I can do off-line. It's not unusual to find me reading the latest Financial Conduct Authority document (as a saved PDF document on my iPad) or writing a social media post, while drinking a (socially distanced) coffee with other local business owners .
I am very fortunate that where I live there are plenty of independently owned local cafés welcoming those of us who want to go into their premises to work. We are always careful to order plenty of beverages, nibbles and sometimes we have lunch. As fellow small business owners we don’t want to hog a table without paying our way (especially during the lunchtime rush).
Doesn’t that sound great?
I hope the future of working for office-based jobs is a blended and flexible working environment. The odd day in the office (with colleagues), some time at home and some time in a co-working space. I can see a future where local hospitality businesses can benefit by providing co-working space as part of their service.
If you meet as a group, you don’t need to be in the same business or even know each other. Why not look around you to see if there’s a local group - or even set one up yourself (you can set up a private Facebook Group to arrange when you meet up)?
If you want to go alone, that’s fine too - just pop into a local café, grab a coffee and get working!
Five issues to consider if you plan to work in your local café:
Co-working has helped me run my business. It gives me space outside my home and the opportunity to mix with others. Whether it's a quiet hour with a coffee or two or a few hours with lunch and a chat. If you haven't tried it yet, why not get out there and give it a go?
Author: Sally Pearce (Conduct Matters Ltd)
Sally Pearce started Conduct Matters in 2014 after 35 years working in the insurance industry. She was originally an underwriter, but since 2000 has worked in dispute resolution and helping Insurance firms understand how to treat their customers fairly. Her experience includes working for the Financial Ombudsman, in the Lloyd’s market and dealing with regulators. Sally is ACII, a qualified mediator and yoga teacher. She is also available for public speaking.