Jayne started her career as an office-based PA in 1986, and went on to run a £24 million turnover national recruitment business until she returned to her native North East in 2000. Jayne has worked from home since 2004 and during the past 8 years has successfully set up three companies while juggling work and being mum to her 9 year old twin daughters.
Working virtually saves time and money
Since technology has been embedded into our daily lives, work productivity has increased, for most of us at least, and work/life flexibility is close to reaching its pinnacle.
Working virtually has never been so possible, nor has it been as accepted as it is today. Excepting the odd jibes about working in your pyjamas (yes I do – don’t you?!), working remotely (often from home) is becoming increasingly recognised as a work-style that saves time and money. The daily commute is becoming a distant memory for many, and with an in-built flexibility, virtual working almost eradicates the age-old fixation on working 9 to 4. Great!
So what’s the downside?
Is it really all about improving work/life balance or is there a need to think about the potential impact of virtual working from a business perspective?
Well, as a virtual worker myself I can absolutely and definitely extol the virtues of homeworking. I love it. I often work from 4.30 am, still have time to do the school-run and put in a full day’s work by 3 pm. But it has to be said that working at home can seriously impact on your ability and tendency to work ‘on’ your business rather than within it. When you really only talk to customers and suppliers on a face-to-face basis, those chance discussions over coffee that help you to form new ideas and come up with new solutions become a rarity. I find chatting about business over dinner with my partner doesn’t quite cut the mustard, and although social media’s great to stay in touch with the world, I tend to be a little reticent about sharing my business woes or the greatest, most brilliant idea I’ve ever had over the World Wide Web!
Try Co-working occasionally
So what’s the antidote to the business isolation faced by me and many other homeworkers and people working virtually? Oh, and just for the record, when I refer to ‘business isolation’ I really don’t mean loneliness – who has time to be lonely?! – I’m referring to isolation in business terms – the scarce opportunities you have to make your business someone else’s business while you’re working alone in your home office.
More particularly, then, how can we make sure we/our businesses have the opportunity to be stimulated, gain new knowledge on an informal basis and form new connections without spending a fortune attending every networking event known to man-kind (we really just don’t have the time!).
Try Co-working occasionally. Arrange for a few associates to work alongside each other for the day, replicating the type of working environment you may have experienced when you worked in an office previously, to gain all the benefits of peer support but without the office politics!!.
Holding or attending a Co-working event doesn’t have to signal that you’re waving the white flag to homeworking in preference to adopting a more traditional workspace. Quite the contrary. Co-working occasionally can really improve your experience of working from home. A day or two away from the home office can seriously recharge the batteries, but it can also provide opportunities for you to make new connections, and maybe have a chance conversation that will make a real difference to you and your business. If not, you’ve at least had a change of scene and still managed to get your work done! Let’s face it, nothing ventured, nothing gained!
Ready-made Co-working events with Colleagues on Tap
Space on Tap introduced Colleagues on Tap Co-working days for home-workers in June 2010, and have run monthly events across the North East ever since. The Autumn 2011 Co-working Calendar has now been released, and for £20 for the full day home-workers are provided with a change of scene with a ‘day at the office’ experience while they make new connections, gain new knowledge from their co-workers (about anything from Twitter to Cloud Computing) and still get at least as much work done as they do at home.
Although at present Colleagues on Tap co-working days take place exclusively in the North East and North Yorkshire, Space on Tap is keen to work with anyone who would like to host Colleagues on Tap events for homeworkers outside of the North East. Full support can be given to ensure your events are a great success, and if the feedback we’ve received is anything to go by you’ll soon develop a new network of virtual workers who are as keen to support you in your business as they are to develop their own. Get in touch if you’d like to know more.