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! @ @@ @@ @@

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