Jelly for workhubs
As a pioneer Jelly organiser in 2009, and author of the How to Start Your Own Jelly Guide, which has been used by groups all over the world, I’m sometimes asked for advice by workhub managers wanting to start their own Jelly.
To make a success of this it is essential you are not seen to be using Jelly as a cynical marketing exercise. Having organised many Jellys in a workhub, and observed the differing fortunes of others, I strongly recommend that you follow these guidelines:
- To my mind one of the basic principles is that Jelly is free. So don’t charge for entry or wifi access. I appreciate you may need to charge to cover your costs but then please call it a coworking day, not a Jelly, the way Space on Tap had always done with its events in north-east England. Depending on the venue attendees may of course need to pay for refreshments, just as they would if they took their laptop to a local cafe.
- The second main principle is that Jelly is not about selling or pitching. That applies to you as much as to those attending it. So don’t be tempted to add your workhub’s name to the Jelly name. Call it after the town or area you’re in. If people think it’s a marketing exercise they may not turn up for fear of being subjected to someone’s sales pitch.
- Jelly is not about making a space available and leaving people to get on with it. It needs an organiser to welcome people, answer questions and keep the energy flowing throughout the day.
- Ideally find a local freelancer to act as organiser. That way you simply provide the venue and lessen the risk of your Jelly coming across as a recruitment drive for your workhub.
- Make sure at the outset that you can afford to make the room available once a month for more than just a few months. You risk damaging goodwill if you pull out just as the group is building momentum.
- Following on principle number two, inviting a consultant to ‘be available to answer your questions on marketing/design/websites/accounting’ etc is not a good idea. Home workers are a shrewd bunch so will see through the spin - ‘local consultant is looking for new clients’ - and vote with their feet. For the same reason it’s best not to ask someone to give a talk.
- Don’t be too concerned if the group builds slowly. The concept of Jelly may need some explanation early on but word does get around and numbers will grow.
Get it right and the Jelly group at your workhub will thrive. It is a great way for you to make yourself known in the community and attract new tenants, on their own impetus.
The Old Church School, my local workhub in Frome, typically gets an enquiry after each event and regularly welcomes new tenants who discovered it through Jelly. Get it wrong and you will be left wondering why it never took off when you’ve heard it’s so popular in other places.
Workhubs Network adds: We’d like to add our own plug for anyone wanting seriously authoritive advice on home-based working. Judy’s 2009 book, Work From Home, covers everything from the hard-nosed practicals of running a business to organising your working day, staying motivated and controlling the unwanted interruptions of household, climate and tempting distractions.