The magic of jelly

Got cabin fever working at home? But unsure of venturing out to work with others?  Here’s our guide to help you join in the revolution.

So you’ve made the leap into freelancing and the independent life.  Tick.  You’ve quickly realized that working from home isn’t doing you much good and having done your google homework, you’ve discovered….Jelly.  Double tick.

With any luck, if you live in London, UK, you’ve even found #kindredjelly which we run 3 plus times every week at 6 different venues across London.  We call it pop-up coworking.  We’ll soon be expanding to other cities in the UK too, and our aim is to make sure that you can join in any day of the week.  But there are plenty of jellies to choose from all over the country.  The UK jelly site is a very good place to start.

Jelly is a cross between hot-desking and networking – actually networking but not as you know it!  Essentially, you turn up with your laptop and you plop yourself down with a group of others in a casual working environment, often a café, or coworking space.

Is that it?  Pretty much.  But that doesn’t explain the huge popularity of this growing movement towards fluid working, and we suspect that there are many of you who aren’t sure whether it’s for you.

Here are some reasons why we think you should consider pop-up coworking – Jellies.

1. It doesn’t feel like networking

Many of us hate the idea of networking.  People thrusting business cards in your face at events full of ego-driven salespeople.  Coming along to jelly is a completely different type of experience.  You meet loads of new people across a broad range of specialist areas, but in a relaxed setting.  In fact, the etiquette at Jelly sessions is that ‘in your face’ selling is discouraged.  And yet, we see people linking up to do projects together or help each other out all the time.

2. Low commitment

You can rock up when you feel like it or not at all.  One of the beauties of jelly is that you don’t quite know how the group will gel.  But it always does. At today’s session, we’ve been telling ghost stories to each other in between heads down at laptops working.  (You had to be there.)

Although it’s nice to let the host know if you are going to make it, you don’t have to commit to being there every day.

3. Hugely cost effective

You only need to make a small contribution to jelly, and perhaps the cost of a hot drink or two.  No need to outlay several hundred pounds or dollars a month to time share a desk, or more if you opt for your own offices.

4. Productivity/focus

The magic of jelly means that you often leave having been much more productive, despite the fact that the time flies and you think you’ve spent most of the time chatting.  Actually, this isn’t that strange. It’s a fact that the very process of sitting down with others away from the distractions of home is the best way to focus on the task in hand.

Photo courtesy of Bernie Mitchell and Modern Jago
Photo courtesy of Bernie Mitchell and Modern Jago.

5. Companionship

For us, this is one of the best things about jelly.  We don’t mind admitting that a few days working at home and we are going stir crazy.  Seeing some familiar faces and new ones every time we have a jelly session is a fantastic way to remind ourselves that there’s a world of like minds out there.  And in this environment, it’s perfectly OK to admit that things aren’t always going according to plan.  We even have ‘team’ drinks at the pub after some of our sessions.

6. Crowdsourcing the expertise of others

We humans are largely social creatures and if you are getting stuck for ideas or getting creative block at home, this will be because you’ve got no one to bounce your ideas off.  Jelly gives you the chance to do mini ‘straw polls’ to test your ideas, or help you get out of your creative rut.  It’s part of the ethos of jelly that people help each other freely, often swopping one skill for another.  The generosity economy.

7. Structure

Many jelly attenders say that the very action of putting the Meet Up date into their calendar gives you the incentive to get out of your pyjamas, wash your hair, put your best foot forward and get out of the house.  Making jelly part of your routine gives you much needed structure when there is none, without taking control over your life.

8. No telly

Well, sort of!  At least not the sort of television or other distractions that you have at home which mean you have permission to procrastinate.  There’s something about being around others that means that you concentrate a little more.

9. Safe place to ask for help

Everyone in the room will have been through something similar, and we’d go as far as to say that there’s no ‘stupid question’ that you can’t ask, and there will almost certainly be someone there who is more than happy to help.  Yesterday, we asked for some help fixing our wordpress blog and within seconds we had 3 experts on hand to help sort it out.

10. Food!

We wouldn’t want to give the impression that it’s all about great food, but food does play an important part in helping everyone feel at home.  We take it in turns to bring fruit, biscuits and of course jelly babies and the act of sharing home made cake is a delightful way of bonding people.  We celebrate birthdays and special events too – one of the things that people say they miss when they don’t work in an office.

So lose the cabin fever and pop along to your local jelly.  We hope we’ll see you at one soon.

You can sign up for our Jellies through Meet Up and Eventbrite.





Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.

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