Saturday, 22 January 2011

Share ideas with colleagues through co-working

Pop-up office at Newcastle City Library
Another successful Colleagues on Tap co-working day took place at Newcastle City Library on 19th Jan.  Our first since the Christmas break (and snowy December!) we had a small but perfectly formed group of 7 co-workers (2 were unable to attend on the day through illness and are coming along to our next planned event instead).

Our pop up office was located on the 6th (top) floor of the library, with fabulous views across the city on what turned out to be a bright, sunny day.  The library staff were highly accommodating with our arrangements, and lunch in the Stewart & Co cafe was tasty.

Co-worker Angela Dawson
As well as the usual 'office banter' and chatting over lunch, we also had the opportunity to exchange ideas as a group on the subject of outsourcing, helped along brilliantly by Angela Dawson, a Virtual Assistant who runs two businesses in the North East including her virtual PA service, Dawson VA Services. 

As well as helping us to understand the mysteries of the VA and how to manage a virtual assistant effectively, the SpoT chat also allowed the group to think more generally about which aspects of their business could be effectively outsourced.  As small business owners we tend to do everything ourselves, struggling on regardless, but Angela helped us to realise that in reality this could actually be working against us (false economy?).  By passing on the management of IT, marketing, finance, admin, whatever, to someone who's dedicated to that activity day in day out, you can then more readily focus on the areas you're great at, and do more of it, rather than getting bogged down in things that not only absorb time but also make you feel pretty rubbish too!

Thought provoking stuff and an interesting discussion from which a whole range of perspectives emerged. Some of the group currently outsource quite readily, others were the beneficiaries of outsourcing decisions (marketing, IT, admin), and one co-worker's thoughts on when to outsource was directly related to their pain threshold, rather than business logic - we've all been there!

The real benefit in co-working occasionally with other small business owners is the opportunity to share thoughts on a whole range of business issues in a way that's pretty difficult to do when you work alone.  Business discussions tend to relate to your customer's business, rather than your own, and it's much more natural for these exchanges to occur during the course of a working 'day at the office' than on a planned basis. Co-working works for businesses who just need to consider options, share ideas and gain knowledge in an informal way, as they would with colleagues in a larger business, and of course a change of scene is great for everybody!

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