What Do Coworkers Do at CBL?

Every day we welcome coworkers who choose to work from Cambridge Business Lounge for the day, rather than from home or elsewhere. On the surface, I know what they’re doing. For example, today working from here is an Architect, Design Agency, Events Management, Accountant, Web Developer, and Town Planner, amongst others. However, I’m always curious to know what it is they’re actually working on.

Therefore, today, I decided to go round and ask some of them “what are you working on right now?” and these are their answers…

“An analytics tool which reduces millions of lines of cloud billing data to useful charts for businesses and academia to work out how their money is being spent” – Dan Frost, http://www.3ev.com/


“Assessing the environmental impact of various worksites required for construction work to implement a major rail infrastructure scheme” – Sheena McCallum, http://cam-planning.co.uk/


“Right now I’m working on eating a pastrami and Gouda cheese sandwich I made using two Tesco bread rolls, leftover from a barbeque I held on Saturday afternoon, and other ingredients purchased from Waitrose.”

He added “I’m then working on designing integration workflows between our in house investor services and wire processing systems and our new Hedge Fund research and portfolio construction platform.”


“A large-scale support ticket session to help customers who we’ve migrated to our new platform.”


“Writing a job spec for a junior developer” – Kelly Molson, http://www.rubbercheese.com/


“I’m currently working on a company away day to Lisbon. The logistics of getting 75 staff plus their partners to Lisbon from a variety of airports is interesting!  We have a wonderful hotel booked, I’ve found a stunning water front restaurant for dinner and we have some fun activities planned.  I just need to get everyone there now!” – Sabine Edwards, http://pendletonevents.co.uk/


“Architecture design; I’ve just finished sketching an alternative floor plan option for a new medical practice in London.” – Jon Clayton, http://complete.archi/


So, there you have it. Each person is heavily focused on completing their to-do-list and has chosen Cambridge Business Lounge as their place to do it. Somewhere where they feel productive, with the benefit of other professional minds too.

Try it for yourself, for free, and see how coworking can benefit your productivity. Get in touch here for more details.

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Remote working has the made the decision of where to work or run a business very easy (or not, if you don’t like making decisions). Which is why, I’m sure, the number of employed and self-employed, who work from home, has increased so dramatically in recent years.

In March 2016, I took to social media to get a greater understanding of where my connections (across the UK) run their business from. The results were:

laptop-943558_960_720Home: 81%

Serviced Office: 10%

Coworking Space: 6%

Other (coffee shop, library, etc.): 3%

Not too much of a surprise there, as working from home is certainly the most flexible of all options. It’s also free and commuting is a dream. I know, as I’ve worked from home for years, and completely agree that it’s great for convenience. However, it takes discipline to work from home day in, day out, and can extremely isolating. Also, if you have a bad day at work, how does that impact on your home environment? Especially if you work from a room that you socially spend a lot of time in.

Whereas, working in an office or shared space is great for inspiration, bouncing ideas off everyone and breaking away from at the end of the day.

A Freelancer’s Route To Home-Working Discipline 

CaptureI remember a freelancer telling me how they used to leave the house at 8:30 every morning, dressed for work, and would walk round the block (via a coffee shop) back to their home. Now there were at work and all home comforts and chores were out of bound.

At the end of the day, he would leave ‘work’ and walk the reverse route, so when they entered the door, they were now at home. It sounds like a lot of effort, but that was their way of mentally getting in the right frame of mind.

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Given that most of those who responded (majority of which are freelancers) worked from home, here are how they described their Pro’s and Con’s:

Advantage: No longer have to get up at 6.30 for the hour long journey into work on the A14.

Disadvantage, no longer get up from desk to go see colleagues, so spend far too much time sitting at the computer, getting fatter. – Susan Fleming, Not Just Travel Anglia


 

Advantage: Incredibly short commute

Disadvantage: No banter with colleagues – Andy Boothman, Creative Graphic Designer Director


 

Advantage: I can work in my pj’s.

Disadvantage: The washing is here… (and the rest of the chores) – Nicky Shephard, Director of The Marketing Boutique.


 

Advantages: Cost and flexibility.

Disadvantages include being treated as the neighbourhood parcel drop. – Karen Packham, Editorial and Website Consultant.


I am not a freelancer but I can work from home as part of my job:

Advantages: Fewer distractions, no commute.

Disadvantages: Not seen as part of the team, lack of interaction with colleagues. – Emma Saldanha, Marketing Executive at Cogent Accountants Ltd


Main advantage is the convenience & flexibility to work the hours I choose. But for a procrastinator like me that’s also a disadvantage as I can always find other things that need doing around the house instead of working. – Geraldine Jones


Advantage: my cats keep me company and act as my office assistants.

Disadvantage: my cats keep me company and act as my office assistants – Stewart Harris, Bassist, Singer, Graphic Designer


Big advantage is the journey to work and back. No traffic or public transport hassles. – Graham Harris


Advantage: Convenient but miss the camaraderie. – Karen Cann, Freelance Video Editor & Producer


Advantages: I can use travel time to work, I can take breaks and get stuff done at home, I can stop and go and pick my little boy up from school. It’s my space and I feel comfortable in it, no interruptions.

Disadvantages: I miss working with other people sometimes; it upsets my little boy that I am home but not playing with him. – Rachel Willer, Founder and MD at The Work Bees


 

In Summary

There clearly isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but it also doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be more than one option. You prefer to work from home? Great. But what happens on the days (however infrequent) that you need a change of scenery?

Test the other options, even for just one day, and see how that impacts your productivity as well as the size of your network.

 

 

 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – The Ultimate Business Book?

Bearhhunt

I look forward to going home and reading to one of my kids of an evening. Well, most of the time. Not because I don’t enjoy reading to them, but because not all books are that enjoyable to read after 50 or so occasions.

Most children’s books contain some kind of feel good story and one that stands out is “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.

The premise of the book (no spoilers here) is about a family’s excitement as they wade through the grass, splash through the river and squelch through the mud in search of a bear. What a surprise awaits them in the cave on the other side of the dark forest! It wasn’t until I realised that there’s a lesson on each page that is pertinent to all business owners.

The book starts with the narrator (a child) saying “We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. I’m not scared”

Business translation: “I’ve got an idea, I’m going for it and it’s going to be great”.

Then the family take on a series of challenges. For example, “Uh-uh! Grass! Long wavy grass. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!”

Business translation “You’ve got a challenge in front of you and you can’t avoid it. You’ve got to use the tools you have and face it, head on”

And that’s the difference between this children’s book and my business translation: The “tools”. The family only have to wade through some grass, or negotiate some mud. They can support each other through that. Who supports you through the challenges you face? Where you do acquire the knowledge and skills to ensure you’re able to go through the problems your facing?

For the narrator of the book, it’s the family; for you, it’s all the other business owners in your area. You just need to get out there and meet them.

Once you build a strong network, you won’t need to go over your challenges, or under them…you’ll be able to go right through them.

Action Point

Try coworking, visit a networking group or get in touch with a business mentor.

Welcome to St Ives Business Lounge

In May 2015, we expanded our coworking community and launched the St Ives Business Lounge – a monthly, pop-up co-working event which provides a place for the c.8,000 Hunts based business professionals to meet and work.

Here is Ed Goodman‘s welcome speech at the launch, which talks about the benefits of co-working and the value of networking events and why we brought Cambridge Business Lounge to St Ives…

You can see photos and comments from the event on the Cambridge Business Lounge Meetup Group.

To book your place the next St Ives Business Lounge, whether it’s for networking, coworking or both, visit here, email info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com or call 01223 324040.

An Alternative Business Route in Times of Travel Disruption

There are many events that we can be sure of in life such as, most famously, death and taxes. For commuters, it is the realisation that, at some point, there will be severe disruption to their daily commute. Often this is down to a strike, adverse weather conditions or something completely unexpected.

However, despite knowing that this happens several times each year, employers and employees seemingly remain oblivious to the alternatives that can benefit them both.

Every time there’s a delay into work, frustration kicks in, morale suffers and productivity slows. Some reports even state each Tube strike costs the London economy anywhere between £50m-£200m each time, which may or may not be true. One thing is for sure, is that if you rely on commuters to travel in to your office to work, your business will be impacted and will suffer.

What is the alternative?

Imagine telling your employee that, due to an impending strike, they didn’t have to come in and could work from home instead. What impact do you think it would have on them and you? Well, they now won’t have to suffer the painful, seemingly unending commute and can work, fresh and happy. You’ll benefit from a more support and productive member of staff.

What can you do if they don’t have the space to work from home?

If your employee doesn’t have a space, or their home is busy with family or other home workers, there is still a successful answer. Thanks to the growing phenomenon of co-working spaces in the UK, your employee can take their laptop to a shared office space space, which is likely to be near to where they live (so, they still don’t have to commute), allowing them to work with hi-speed WiFi and in a productivity-inducing environment.

The end result is that despite the combined efforts of trade unions and nature, your productivity levels aren’t affected, morale remains high and deadlines are still met.

And there’s more…!

Not only that, but you never know who else may be the using the coworking space. It could be a potential client, supplier or a connection that takes you on the the first step of a new collaborative relationship.

taxi-1209542_1280If you are reading this as an employee: Go and find you nearest co-working space in preparation and present the idea to your manager, which will benefit them and you.

If you’re reading this as an employer/manager: Tell your staff that the next time their journey into work is likely to be affected, they can work from a coworking space instead.

It could be one of the best business decisions you’ve ever made!

Coworking at Cambridge Business Lounge

One of our regular visitors to Cambridge Business Lounge, BluntBrit.com, has shown off their animated media skills by creating a new video detailing what coworking is all about, and how it works at Cambridge Business Lounge:

If you’d like Blunt Brit to create a video for you, then contact them through their website, tell them Ed sent you and receive a 30% discount. You’re welcome!!

How Coworking is Changing How and Where We Work

Watch one of the best videos to explain the concept and benefits of coworking…

Now you’ve seen it, have a look into working from Cambridge Business Lounge, or try us out for a day with our compliments. Email info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com for more details or call 01223 324040.

10 Tips For Starting a Business

Each week, we ask the coworkers at Cambridge Business Lounge, as well as other members of our growing business community, for their thoughts and ideas to help other start-ups and  small businesses.

This week, we asked the question “What advice would you give to a new start-up?

As ever, we weren’t short of responses (thank you to every one who contributed) and the responses were…

  1. Don’t take all of the revenue out of the business – re-invest!!

  2. Make every friend possible and help them.. It pays back.

  3. Be flexible and provide what the market wants, not what you want them to have

  4. Get your product sold to paying customers asap. i.e. validate that people will pay

  5. Sometimes things that are really low cost are great, but sometimes a false economy. Learning which is which can be painful – best consult people who’ve done something similar and vet your vendors carefully

  6. – Consult people lots

  7. Being self employed, doesn’t need to mean ‘being by yourself-employed’

  8. Fail often and learn

  9. A start up is like having a baby. Think twice before doing both at once.

  10. Do at least two years of financial projections before you go ahead

What about you? What advice would you give to a new start-up business. Email info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com or tweet @CamBizLounge and we will post a selection of responses below.

Being Self-Employed Shouldn’t Mean Being-By-Yourself-Employed

When you’re an employed member of a team, you will most certainly have a boss to provide you with direction, motivation and support, as well as other members of a team to bounce ideas, frustrations and excitement off and socialise with. But, who do you turn to when once you’ve taken the plunge to work on your own?

coworkingAccording to research from Startup Britain, more than 500,000 businesses were launched in 2013 and, I’m sure, many of them will be experiencing that feeling of isolation that comes from self-employment and the challenges that remote working brings.

The absolute best way to over-come these challenges is to go out and meet others who feel exactly the same. So, over the next week, work somewhere else for one day, such as your nearest coworking space. Not only may you even be more productive than you are at home, but you’ll be part of a small business community that wants to help you and needs your input too.

Once you do, you’ll quickly learn that being self-employed, doesn’t have to mean being by-yourself-employed!

Find out more by working at CBL for a day. CLICK HERE for details…. Your first visit is free.