Friday, 31 December 2010

Homeworkers can kick-start 2011 with colleagues on tap co-working days

There's no doubt that homeworking really comes into its own during the Winter months!  Like most, the Space on Tap team hasn't ventured out much, preferring to stay cosy in our home offices and taking advantage of technology to keep in touch with each other and our customers and suppliers.
But now the Festive season's just about over and the snow's just about melted we're really looking forward to getting  back to 'business as usual'.  We're planning new developments for 2011, and are looking forward to bouncing around ideas within the team over the next few weeks.
When you work for yourself, or from home, you can really miss those casual off-the-cuff chats with colleagues that can spark new ideas or help you to think through the way forward.   This is exactly why we introduced Colleagues on Tap.  In a 'pop-up office' that we create for a day we bring together a bunch of people to co-work for the day. With an option to 'do your own thing' while you benefit from a change of scene, or take advantage of chats with new colleagues in a friendly and informal atmosphere, everyone gains something from Colleagues on Tap.
Why not kick-start 2011 by experiencing co-working at a Colleagues on Tap day?  On 12th January we'll be at the wonderful Morritt Hotel just South of Durham (log fires and wonderful food are likely to be on the menu!) and on 19th January you can join us in Newcastle City Centre at the City Library.
CLICK HERE to find out more about Colleagues on Tap or to book your place or email us at for more info.
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Introducing some of our Colleagues on Tap co-workers

Space on Tap's Colleagues on Tap Co-workers
at Cobalt BX Nov 2010
Source: News Guardian

Pictured Left to Right:
Jeremy Scally (Little Big Fish)
Joanne Turnbull (Space on Tap)
Sharon McKee (SEM Communications)
Angela Dawson (Dawson VA Services)
Mike Bell (Mutual Inspiration)
Dona Skaife (WBS Accountants)
Jayne Graham (Space on Tap)
Vicki Stone (Vicki Stone Marketing)
Darren Glanville (Xero)
Tracy Suddick (Tracy Suddick Business Consultant).

Not pictured: Emma Hardie (Experience North Country)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Camaraderie, clouds (& yet more cupcakes!)

What a great day we had yesterday at another Colleagues on Tap co-working day. 

Space on Tap's 'Pop up office' in Cobalt BX auditorium
Most of the 11 co-workers arrived 'at the office' at the Cobalt Business Exchange between 8 and 10.30 am, and with laptops out, heads were soon down and our colleagues set to their tasks for the day.  The clatter of keyboards and chat from the occasional phone call combined nicely with office banter across the 'pop-up office' - a welcome change for homeworkers who usually work alone.

The morning raced away, helped along by plenty of coffee, and after a quick photo call with the North Tyneside Guardian we collected in The Cobalt's on-site Cafe Meo for a snack and the opportunity to meet some new faces.  What a great group of people, all amazing business people either running their businesses from home or, in one case, a homeworker who works for a global IT solutions company.  The mix was eclectic to say the least!  For those who like lists, our colleagues for the day included:   an accountant, a marketing expert, a wellbeing coach, a business development manager, a web retailer of local experiences, a personal development coach, a management consultant, a virtual PA, an IT adviser ... plus Joanne (Space on Tap ops manager and Colleagues on Tap organiser extraordinaire) and me (space promoter and, in another life, strategic adviser).

Amid the diversity of our companies we had a lot in common.  First, and most obviously, we normally work from home, and all welcomed the opportunity to step into an office environment for a change (we don't want to work in an office every day, you understand, but just now and again's great for a change of scene).  But it goes beyond that.  We all have something to give, in the form of information, knowledge or advice, and  everyone involved willingly offered something to their temporary colleagues during the course of the day.  Advice on WordPress, Cloud Computing (what is it, and how can we take advantage?), contacts for training grants, suggestions on guest blogging, exchange of website links to improve SEO, suggestions for future Colleagues on Tap co-working days, customer leads, diary dates to meet again, and loads of positive input and encouragement.  

The day exuded true camaraderie: giving, without any expectation of something in return.

The SpoT chat 'on the sofas' after lunch (helped along by homemade cupcakes a la Space on Tap) has become a regular feature of our co-working days, and this time provided a great opportunity for an informal exchange of knowledge about how to store and access files, data and software without being tied to your PC or laptop.  The conversation started on ways to collaborate online and share files and data through using tools like DropBox and Microsoft Groove, and evolved to a discussion about Cloud Computing which switched on a few lightbulbs and got us all thinking about new opportunities enabled by powerful software that's now available 'in the cloud' for only £5 or £6 a month. The conclusion after an hour was that there was a lot more to learn but the fog had started to lift - and the lists of 'must do' had become that little bit longer!

Co-workers started to drift off to do school-runs and the like from mid-afternoon, and the pop-up office closed just before 5.  A great day of camaraderie and clouds, confirmed through great feedback from co-workers via Twitter:

@BigLittleFish Would like to say thanks to @ for arranging yesterday and hello to @@ @@
@tmsuddick @ Thank you ladies for such another awesome co-workers day! Lovely to catch-up with colleagues, meet new ones and share ideas :-)
@DawsonVAServs @ @@ @@ @@ @@ thx 4 fab day
@AbsolutelyGrn @ @@ @@ lovely to meet you all there - great idea, fab day
@VickiStonebiz Newcastle Business Mums @Good day today @ Cobalt, despite problems with car this morning!
@ExpNorthCountry @ co-workers day going GREAT! Lovely to have lunch with a nice group of fellow biz people & share ideas around cloud computing!
@YourITA @ Sorry for missed your co-working day yesterday! Must be another good chance meeting new people and work at the same time! :)
@ExpNorthCountry @ thanks again - LOVED it! @ @@ @@ @@

Friday, 29 October 2010

The pop-up office & co-working with Space on Tap

The pop up culture is taking hold.  We're transforming all types of spaces for temporary use across the globe, and the North East region is no exception.  Art galleries become shops, community centres transform into restaurants and unused buildings become artists' collectives.
Read our article 'Pop-up culture stimulates innovation' 

The pop-up office and co-working with Space on Tap

Space on Tap's Colleagues on Tap network is now transforming some of the region's spaces into pop-up offices to provide the perfect place for homeworkers, and people who normally work alone or in small teams, to work together for the day.  

Co-working is a new innovation in networking and takes various forms.  Co-working hubs have been springing up around the country providing permanent bases for freelancers, particularly in the digital and creative sectors, to work alongside each other, although their businesses operate independently.  Useful, value-added collaborations have emerged, as well as the obvious - new contacts and informal business mentors.  

Hubs have also taken a more fluid form as occasional workspace, available whenever you need it, sometimes involving a membership programme which provides a minimum number of desk days in a given period.  NeST in Barnard Castle is a great example of this in action, where artists and digital creatives across the Teesdale area are starting to congregate in the cafe and workspace areas, resulting in new collaborations within and through NeST. 

Our 'before' space at the North East BIC in Sunderland
Then there's Colleagues on Tap, a co-working initiative introduced into the North East by Space on Tap, essentially setting up a pop-up office for the day in a range of spaces, to form a venue for co-working on an occasional basis.  

So far we've majored on business centres, including the Keel Suite at the North East Business & Innovation Centre that was  transformed  from a meeting space to a workspace over night.

Pop-up office ideal for Colleagues on Tap co-working
The pop up office is designed to provide a level of privacy for co-workers while they settle into their day, but also to encourage interaction as people find their feet.  We make sure there are ample electricity points, refreshments and wifi - all you need to bring is your laptop, if you'll be using one on the day.

A morning working session is usually followed by lunch in an alternative space, stimulating new conversations and connections, and this is built on further through our SpoT chat sessions after lunch, where one of our co-workers in attendance offers to facilitate a discussion on a topic of mutual interest to the group - Twitter, facebook, networking, home working and so on.

Colleagues on Tap is now branching out beyond Business Centres to demonstrate the versatility of some of the region's other great spaces.  The next few months will see us set up office at The Morritt, a beautiful 17th Century country house hotel that started its life as a coaching house (full wifi access is also guaranteed!), Newcastle City Library which is a modern space with fabulous views of the city centre from its upper floors, and The Workplace, a vocational learning centre in Newton Aycliffe literally 2 minutes from the A1.

CLICK HERE to find out more about Space on Tap's co-working events, or to book your space to join us at work for a day in the future.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Space on Tap innovates a new form of netWORKing

Well it's official.  Space on Tap has innovated a new form of networking for homeworkers in the North East.  

We've had the traditional networking events (love 'em or hate 'em), the FlipChart Roadshows (level playing field, low pressure sell & buy) and online social networking (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn - easy, convenient, powerful).  Now for something different?

Space on Tap's Colleagues on Tap days combine the best features of all of the above, to create a powerful vehicle for homeworkers (and anyone else who cares to come along!) to exchange ideas, build relationships, meet new customers and suppliers, and (pretty important for homeworkers) get a change of scene.  And the best bit?  It's all achieved in a day's work!    

Colleagues on Tap Wednesday (mid-week to avoid the usual slump!) have a pretty simple format.  A Cohort of Co-workers (12 is the optimum) arrive at a planned location for their working day.  Laptops out, coffee made, they set to their 'to do list'.  Over lunch, or coffee, they meet their colleagues for the day, and during a post-lunch 'Spot Chat' they share thoughts and ideas about a business topic of mutual interest, supported by someone with a professional interest in the topic (we don't like the term 'expert'!).  So far topics have ranged from Twitter and Social Media generally to how to network effectively from home.  Future SpoT Chat plans include home office ergonomics, how to clarify the value of your business, and no doubt more Facebook and Twitter.  

Beyond that the day takes its natural course: chats on the sofas, private meetings to talk business, and more work.  

The outcome?  Solid relationships, new customers and suppliers and a renewed energy to get back to the home office the following day.  And we're all about added value too.  We love working with people who care as much as we do about doing business in a fun way.  In our most recent co-working day our friendly IT suppliers, ITA, who specialise in providing support to small and home based business, provided a free laptop clinic for our co-workers. Needless to say it went down a storm and annoying bugs, unwanted pop-ups and out of date anti-virus software are now a thing of the past!  Yay!  Oh, and on added value, there's also the cupcakes ...

Interested in netWORKing while you work?  Book a place at our next event (book early - our last event sold out 2 weeks before it took place!)

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Co-working, customers & cupcakes

Ok so what's this co-working thing all about then, a friend asked sceptically last week.  "Come and find out for yourself" I told her.  So she did (good for her!), and yesterday, at the end of Space on Tap's 2nd successful Colleagues on Tap day I asked her how she'd found it.

First she admitted that she hadn't expected it to be very good.  OK. Fair enough :s  ..........

........ Then she revealed that despite her scepticism she'd had a fantastic day for lots of reasons, and planned to come to future co-working days as it really was time well spent.  Great :)

And I'm glad to say she wasn't alone - every one of the 10 co-workers who attended the day had benefited from the experience and would do it again (in fact 5 had been to the last one and had come a 2nd time!). 

They found that unlike at 'networking events', working alongside people for the day actually provided the opportunity to get into discussions naturally, over coffee or over lunch, or about a topic of mutual interest  enhanced by a few cupcakes (yesterday's SpoT chat on Twitter, Facebook and other social media provided a great conversation piece, competently facilitated by Heather Baxter of Marketing Geni), and that making new contacts was almost a natural bi-product of the day rather than the sole purpose of being there

Another telling fact is that 4 of our 10 participants yesterday weren't home workers - they have their own offices but wanted a change of scene - and half of the co-workers already work with other people in their businesses, but as they say, a change is as good as a rest! So co-working really can be suitable for anybody at all.

Is co-working really working?  Well Colleagues on Tap participants certainly think so!  At both events so far people have got as much if not more work done than they would have done at home, and although no-one overtly attended to get new customers, at least two of our co-workers managed to strike deals on the day.  I call that 'working', don't you? 
So, go on, try it - to find out about the next events we have planned CLICK HERE.  One thing's guaranteed - you'll get out of it at least as much as you put in ... :)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Co-working's great for homeworkers

On Wednesday 21st July Space on Tap holds its 2nd Colleagues on Tap day, bringing together a group of homeworkers to a central workspace to, well, just work! This time our host's the state of the art evolve Business Centre near Durham and Sunderland, and we've all sorts of other events planned at great places in August and September.

We're really looking forward to Wednesday. The first Colleagues on Tap day really was a great day at Newcastle Business Village in Benton - 9 of us altogether. This is not a massive event - it doesn't need to be - it just needs a few people working in the same workspace to be effective. Some co-working days have 6, others have 25 - depending on anything from the venue to the weather!
We're expecting between 6 and 10 lovely people to join us this Wednesday (there are still places left so you can book here), and for £12 they'll get use of a workspace with wi-fi for the day, a fab lunch in evolve's e-bistro with their new found 'colleagues', and a SpoT chat in the afternoon with Heather Baxter from Marketing Geni, to get underneath how best to use Twitter and other online social media for business. The June SpoT chat with Vicki Stone Marketing was so useful, with everyone going away with at least a couple of new techniques to try out, and the whole group was able to share their experiences, from absolute novices through to seasoned professionals. So we're looking forward to finding out more from Heather! Find our more and reserve your place

Why's co-working great for homeworkers? We all need a change of scene now and again, and no more so when we work at home - you can get too much of a good thing! This really is a working day - just in a different location - so the great news is that you can still come if you're busy! You can't say that of most events, can you :)