Regular Enterprise Nation contributor Rickie Josen is a big fan of Jelly. No, not the wobbly stuff you eat with ice cream, but the loose co-working group for freelancers and homeworkers that meets in cafes, home, offices - and other locations - across the US and, increasingly, the UK. This is what Rickie has to say about the virtues of Jelly.
I first encountered Jelly during a long stint in New York, thanks to EN's very own Emma Jones recommending it (she does a lot of that - Ed).
All I knew about Jelly when I RSVPed to my first one was that it's about co-working for people who otherwise work alone, at home. When I came back to the UK, given that we have all moved towards home-working, portfolio careers and entrepreneurship - not to mention the more general acceptance of social media as a way of connecting - I was surprised Jelly wasn't already in a huge city like Birmingham. So, eventually, I added it to my list of community tasks. Whereas other get-togethers may be for networking, promoting business and exchanging contacts, Jelly is purely an excuse to work with other people. In New York, Jellies were literally held in each other's homes or business premises. The best one I went to was in a shoe showroom overlooking central park! While I love that very casual approach, I manage to reserve a table at one of the Birmingham's' finest coffee shops, right on my doorstep. Plus, my place isn't large enough anyway. As regular Birmingham Jellyhead, Ian Braisby
puts it: "The worst thing about being a freelance worker who works at home is the isolation. But Jelly provides a once a month social outlet - often enough to be an effective pressure valve, infrequently enough to be something to look forward to and to not take up huge chunks of your schedule."
Why work in a Jelly?
So, there are several reasons to co-work in a Jelly: Get out of the house!
Get out of your PJs, brush your hair, grab your laptop and anything else you need to work and go and talk to some people. Collaborate.
The idea is to work in a creative, collaborative environment.Â I often ask people who I potentially may work with to just meet me at a Jelly. Indeed, one of the best things about Jelly is seeing people find some synergy and pairing off to work on a project. Also, the coffee shop is normally full of other freelancers so there is always the chance encounter while you're ordering your preferred beverage. Banter.
Yes we have social media now which makes working from home all the more fun, but once a month I trot out and sit around a big wooden table with my laptop in front of me. However, it's not just for laptop users - some people bring a notepad and use the time to organise or think of new ideas, and it's a perfect place to brainstorm. I'm still waiting for someone to turn up with their knitting or some other craft, but no joy yet. Laughter.
It's just like the office, but better, as there isn't a boss looking over your shoulder wondering why you're having so much fun. Change.
Why not just work somewhere different for a day? Free your mind, think differently, meet new people. People.
A chance to meet new people and catch up with your Jelly family, too. There is no commitment to Jelly; just come when you can and come and go as you please during the day. Some Jellys take bookings so they know who is coming and how much space they need. I'm of the super organised and informal persuasion, so I'll promote Jelly via Twitter and email all those who want to know, as well as those who are fellow members of Birmingham Entrepreneurs MeetUp group that I co-run. Coffee.
Or Tea, hot chocolate, soup or indeed whatever your venue offers. We're lucky with Urban Coffee Co
as they offer breakfast, brunch or lunch during our Jelly days as well as tonnes of cakes and snacks.
Set up your own Jelly"¦
If you don't have a Jelly in your area and want to set one up, simply talk to your local coffee shop or other suitable venue, set a date and tell everyone you know.
"¦ or get in touch to find out more
For more tips, drop me a line via Twitter @RickieWrites
or via my website
. Alternatively, I recommend talking to UK Jelly Queen,
Jan Minihane, who started the UK Jelly
website, which is full of useful information, as well as Jelly listings. You can Tweet UK Jelly
or Jan Minihane
herself and say hi. Birmingham Jelly photo credit: @Timmy666