Christmas lunches for Freelancers

October 21, 2014 in Coworking, Events, new ways to work, workspace

photo (2) copyHere in the UK we are getting bombarded with reminders to reserve your company Christmas lunch at local restaurants now! One of our members suggested that since people working on their own or as freelancers don’t ever get invited to the traditional Company Christmas party, maybe THINQTANQ should organise one for OUR community. What a fantastic idea – so we are!

It reminded me that although there are many reasons most entrepreneurs and other independents prefer working on their own/not working for “the man”, there are periodically events and circumstances when you are reminded that you are out of the mainstream of how working generally works. And holiday celebrations are one of them. So we plan to do our best to make holidays at least as fun here as they are in any cool office.

To begin, Monday 27 October we’ve got our pumpkin carving competition set for a 1 pm ‘carve-off’ (BYOP). Some of the entrants are already talking trash to each other to push up the design standards, particularly amongst the graphic designers. If you’ve been trying to decide what day to come in, I’d highly recommend next Monday – it should be a cracking event. And even if you are not graphically skilled (like me) we plan to support and celebrate all our carver’s efforts, not just the competitive lads. Hope to see you here!

We’ll be sure to post some photos next week!

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    Do you have FUN at work?

    October 13, 2014 in Coworking, workspace

    IMG_3356Do you have fun at work? Do you laugh, do you have a little play together with your coworkers now and again? How does that make you feel? Do you work any better as a result?

    We’ve been known to have a laugh or two here at THINQTANQ, and know that since we all work hard, we might as well enjoy ourselves just as enthusiastically. If you are a freelancer, a sense of humour will get you through some of the more frustrating moments, and of course will help you be more fun to work with and more likeable to your clients. If you work in an organisation, it is also very important to make time to have a good laugh. If you need more convincing, here is a quick list of 10 reasons why humour is a key to success at work (excerpted from an article by Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Magazine: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/05/03/10-reasons-why-humor-is-a-key-to-success-at-work/2/).

    1. People will enjoy working with you. “People want to work with people they like,” Laura Vanderkam says. “Why wouldn’t you? You spend huge chunks of your waking hours at work, so you don’t want it to be a death march. Humor–deftly employed–is a great way to win friends and influence people. You need to be funny, but not snarky (that’s not good for team building) and you can’t offend anyone.”
    2. Humor is a potent stress buster. “In fact, it’s a triple whammy,” Michael Kerr explains. “Humor offers a cognitive shift in how you view your stressors; an emotional response; and a physical response that relaxes you when you laugh.”
    3. It is humanizing. “Humor allows both employees and managers to come together, realizing that we all seek common ground,” Lynn Taylor says.
    4. It puts others at ease. Humor is a way to break through the tension barrier, she says. “Research shows that humor is a fabulous tension breaker in the workplace,” Kerr adds. “People who laugh in response to a conflict tend to shift from convergent thinking where they can see only one solution, to divergent thinking where multiple ideas are considered.”
    5. Ha + ha = aha! “Humor is a key ingredient in creative thinking,” Kerr says. “It helps people play with ideas, lower their internal critic, and see things in new ways.” Humor and creativity are both about looking at your challenges in novel ways and about making new connections you’ve never thought about before, he adds. Taylor agrees. She says humor “establishes a fertile environment for innovation because people are more inspired when they are relaxed.”
    6. It helps build trust. “You can build trust with the effective use of humor because humor often reveals the authentic person lurking under the professional mask,” Kerr says. He explains that numerous studies suggest that people who share a healthy, positive sense of humor tend be more likable and are viewed as being more trustworthy. “Humor is also viewed as sign of intelligence,” he adds. “All of these characteristics, as well as the fact that humor is a fabulous icebreaker and can tear down walls, can help people build relationships in the workplace, and especially these days, relationships are critical to success.”
    7. It boosts morale. Humor boosts morale and retention while reducing turnover because employees look forward to coming to work, Taylor says. “Employees like to work for and with others who have a sense of humor. We all prefer to have fun at work. It should not feel like an indentured servitude environment.”
    8. People who use humor tend to be more approachable. The more approachable you are, especially as a leader, the more honest and open people around you will be, Kerr says. “And the more honest and open people tend to be, the more successful and innovative teams tend to be.”
    9. Humor can allow your company to stand out. “It can help companies stand out and go beyond with their customer service, garnering them a huge loyal following,” he says. If you want to stand out from the pack, using humor with your service is an effective way to do that.
    10. It can increase productivity. “Humor creates an upbeat atmosphere that encourages interaction, brainstorming of new ideas, and a feeling that there are few risks in thinking outside the box. All that leads to greater productivity,” Taylor explains. “It also stands to reason that if you’re in a more jovial atmosphere, you’ll have more passion for what you do. Your work ethic will increase, and your enthusiasm will likely be contagious. It’s a win-win for you and your employer.”

    Let us know what YOU do to have a good laugh at work…

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      Planning and thinking time…

      October 2, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work, Planning, workspace

      IMG_3372Do you have difficulty taking time away from DOING your business to actually PLAN for and THINK about your business?  Me too! We all do, it seems.

      It has been a busy week here at THINQTANQ with events every day and a conference that have all been providing great ideas for planning and thinking about how we do our businesses.  I have been learning so much! Now the trick is to find a few more moments to reflect in order to implement some of that learning. But it is hard when the next thing is coming up, and I need to get ready for that…You know how it goes. Doing the business; not planning…

      One thing our members say when they come in is how it is nice to get out of the house and go to a place that helps them focus. Here everyone is working on something – it is one of their workplaces: no laundry or dishes to distract, no cats or dogs to play with. Some people use THINQTANQ to get their paperwork done – no procrastinating, but fun people around and lots of light so it doesn’t feel like punishment. Others use their time here to do that planning and thinking about the business since they are not in their usual ‘workspace’.

      What are your biggest hurdles to getting your work done? Distractions? Lack of focus? No people to bounce ideas off? Too much noise or too little? Other things? How do you manage those hurdles? Let us know in the comments!

      And of course, hope to see you around here soon!

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        Coming up: Re~Invent Work Week!

        September 24, 2014 in Coworking, Events, new ways to work, workspace

        IIMG_2261IMG_2658t is a very busy week coming up for us here at THINQTANQ!

        Friday we’ve got the Digpen 7 Web Conference Workshops here all day, with some great talks. Check http://digpen.com for all the details.

        Next week is our Re~Invent Work Week, with talks and events happening all week showcasing our local talent, as well as giving all of you a chance to explore a new way to work. If you work from home, you may be surprised to know there is a place you can go work whenever you want to be around other people, that is like an office, but you don’t need to lease it or provide any equipment: you just show up and get to work! You can come and go when you want, and only pay for the time you are here. You will get more done and be more productive, because there aren’t the distractions and isolation of home, and you will be surrounded by other people also working diligently away.

        THINQTANQ is an un-office: we are not corporate-looking, we laugh out loud, and have silly drawing competitions. But our members also work hard, offer advice and suggestions when asked, and know about all the latest technology. You can bet someone has been to that new restaurant already and can tell you what they think. You will meet several other businesses who can help you, or who may need your skills, without even exchanging a business card.

        But come see for yourself! That is the best way to experience what it is like to work around others on your own terms. Next week you can come to THINQTANQ every day for FREE, and we are offering some special deals on our monthly memberships for those who come in for the first time. Needless to say, we are very excited and can’t wait for you to experience it too. So, what are you waiting for? See you next week!

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          Working well

          September 17, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work, workspace

          IMG_0438Last week I mentioned the Digpen 7 conference coming up the weekend of 26-27 September (linked here). Amongst the many awesome technical talks, I will be giving a more general, working life related presentation. My talk, perhaps not surprisingly, will be about paying attention to where you are working, and making sure you are working in the right space for the kind of work you are doing.

          Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But if you have some flexibility on where you work it can make a huge difference in your productivity. For example, if you work from home, you likely won’t have a client meeting in your living room. You may instantly think coffee shop for a meeting, but what about a nice hotel lobby instead? If you can choose a quiet place to meet, you will set a respectful and professional tone. If you are here in Plymouth, consider one of the larger restaurants in off hours, or one of the open University buildings that has a café and seating area. Of course your local coworking space has some really nice conference room space available to use as well!

          If it is a nice day, what about going for a walk? There are many benefits of walking meetings, and the fresh air along with walking side-by-side can stimulate more interesting conversations than in a coffee shop setting.

          Conversely, if you work in an office with loud bustling space, and you really need to concentrate on your work without distractions, try to find an available conference room so you can shut the door. Or see if you can work out of the office for a few hours, or borrow someone’s private office (with their permission of course!) If not, try headphones with appropriate music to help you tune out the surrounding conversations and focus on your tasks.

          I’ll be talking about these and other suggestions for the various types of working spaces most of us need, illustrating how giving yourself the best possible space will help you get your work done more efficiently. And wouldn’t we all like to get more done in a day? Or at least feel as if we didn’t waste time getting our work done, no matter how much we love what we do!

          Hope to see you at Digpen 7.

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            Re-Invent Work Week

            September 12, 2014 in Events, new ways to work

            REInvent work weekWe are very excited to share with you the events we have organised to celebrate Re~Invent Work week here in Plymouth. Beginning 29 September, we will be hosting events and workshops for all of you independents, free-lancers, and home-based workers who want to try a new way to work that will help you become more productive, more connected, and able to enjoy our community focused on helping all of us thrive in our businesses.

            Here are some of the events we have planned so far:

            • Mon 29 Sept: Lunchtime talk by Business Coach Jo Higson, Parakeet Coaching CIC
            • Tue 30 Sept: HootUp! Learn how to become an expert Hootsuite user! 6-8 pm
            • Wed 1 Oct: Friendly Business Networking conversations and cake 10 am -12 noon
            • Thu 2 Oct: Lunchtime talk by Plymouth Patent Library – Patlib
            • Fri 3 Oct: End of the week Party!, 5:30 on

            Best of all, attendance at THINQTANQ and all the great workshops and events this week is free! We really want you to experience the benefit of working alongside others in a creative friendly environment, so we are trying to make it an amazing week for everyone. We will also be offering some special deals on our monthly memberships for those of you who attend for the first time during the week. I’ll be posting additional information about each of these events between now and 29 September, so watch this space!

             

             

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              “Nicest Little Web Conference in the West”

              September 10, 2014 in Events, new ways to work

              digpen-avatarWe are very excited to announce our collaboration with Digpen 7 this year. Digpen is short for Digital Peninsula, and the annual Digpen conference is a great local gathering that showcases the multidisciplinary digital-related local expertise.

              I’ve been helping out at the last two events and it is truly a welcoming and friendly group. As someone only peripherally related to digital expertise (in the digital context I am primarily a content producer and marketer), I have learned loads and enjoyed the camaraderie of many people both years I’ve attended.

              This year, THINQTANQ will be hosting the workshops on Friday 26 September before the main conference Saturday on the Plymouth University campus. We are also hosting a lovely social event on Friday evening. If you are attending the conference or workshops, please plan on joining us!

              More information is available on the Digpen 7 Conference website: http://digpen.com/. And if you do come to the conference, you just may hear me talk about making sure your workspace matches your work, or Rob talking about collaboration in the workplace.

              Hope to see you there!

               

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                Creative painter looking for a project?

                September 3, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work, workspace

                l'art n'est pas un crimeAre you a skilled (or at least careful) painter?

                We have some large wall surfaces here at THINQTANQ that need your designs and/or implementation of our ideas! Stairwell, a meeting room and more would benefit from your ‘surface creativity’. We will provide paint and have a general theme in mind; you will be excited to contribute your ideas and skills to our creative community of independent workers, makers, and digital professionals.

                In exchange, you get plenty of tea, coffee, snacks and a permanent tribute to your efforts. We can also provide portfolio recommendations, as well as time working in our space or use of the meeting room in exchange for your art.

                Interested? Let us know! sabrina at plymouthcowork dot org or info at thinqtanq dot co dot uk.

                REMINDER!! We have office space available! Last private office space is available now in our upstairs space. Two other small offices have already been filled, and we are looking for just the right group to join us. In addition to your own lovely office, you have access to the coworking space on the first floor and all our creative professionals and the activities organised for everyone at THINQTANQ. See last weeks post for more details, and contact us at info at thinqtanq dot co dot uk.

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                  Your business, here!

                  August 29, 2014 in workspace

                  Upstairs office

                  IMG_2266If you’ve been looking for a great place to locate your small business or organisation in Plymouth city centre, I’ve got a suggestion for you! Why not join us here at THINQTANQ? We’ve just completed our third and final private office, located upstairs from our awesome coworking space.

                  THINQTANQ is a vibrant hub of creativity with two digital firms already based here in addition to our fabulous coworking members.

                  A spacious 5.7 x 5.2m and suitable for up to 6 people, the newly available space comes with its own kitchen space (although you are welcome to use the coworking kitchen where the cool kids hang out). The office is quiet, bright and airy, and very close to all the conveniences of the city centre. Best of all, you’ve got a built in network of great people around you, and our extended community of interesting, smart business owners and freelancers.

                  The office also benefits from wifi access, utilities and business rates included, 6 hours of meeting room hire per month free of charge and easy in/out terms! If you would like to know more or view the office, please contact us on [email protected], or pop in and have a look for yourself; there’s lots more we can show and tell you. And most of all, we’d love to have you join us!

                   

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                    Networking another way

                    August 20, 2014 in Coworking, Events, new ways to work

                    IMG_2383Networking: The word alone strikes terror in the hearts of many of us.
                    Some love nothing more than a room full of new people to meet.
                    And others fall somewhere in between – perhaps enjoying meeting a few new people now and again, and prefer a smaller gathering rather than a huge, crowded noisy room.

                    It’s good to pay attention to what works best for you, as you will be more productive and effective if you are in a situation that you enjoy rather than one that creates anxiety. And as independent workers (freelancers, micro business owners, sole traders, etc.), networking is really important to our business growth – see another blog post about this: http://www.plymouthcowork.org/networks-are-important-do-you-know-why/. Since we can’t always control the times when it will be necessary to network, like at a conference, I always try to create my own comfort area within any situation.

                    If I need to go to a networking event in a situation that is stressful (for me that is a large crowded room full of people who seemingly know each other), I try to create my own small intimate setting so that I don’t feel the pressure and noise of the larger room. So, for example, I’ll start by finding someone on the periphery who might look uncomfortable, or a couple of people who are glancing around to see if there is someone else they should be talking to, and go up to those people and introduce myself, and ask them a few questions. Usually we can go from there, and hopefully dig deeper.

                    I count success as having two or three longer conversations at most events rather than trying to meet as many people as I can. That way I have met a few people with whom I can confidently follow up, and I haven’t exhausted myself with numerous shallow conversations. For me, after a couple of good long conversations I am usually more energised rather than drained. And then if it is possible, I give myself permission to leave, feeling reasonably good and not so exhausted that I won’t be willing to go to another event. Or if I can’t leave, I take a small break to get some fresh air, walk around, or sit down for a quiet moment. After a bit of recharging, I can repeat the process.

                    Here at THINQTANQ we make it easy for people to meet each other. By providing communal workspace, opportunities to meet people come naturally by working alongside one another and getting the chance to converse whilst getting a cup of coffee, or talking about a new type of productivity app, or just asking for feedback on a project. We have a big picnic table where we gather for lunch sometimes as well. It is a very non-stressful way to get to know people who can help you with your business in all kinds of ways.

                    As well, once a month we hold a very low-key FREE networking event for all our members and any other people who want to come along. It is focused on one-to-one conversations and cake! We take a few minutes in the middle of the mid-morning event for everyone to introduce themselves and their business for just a minute each, and then we go back to chatting knowing what everyone does in case there is someone in particular you want to say hello to. And that is it!

                    If you’d like to join us at our monthly networking events, we’d love to meet you! We are very friendly and welcoming, and also like to have a bit of a laugh! The next one is Wednesday morning 27 August, 10am to 12 noon at THINQTANQ. Please let me know if you plan to come so we’ll make sure to have enough cake. :)

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