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A connector's guide to coworking: Post by Wiard Sterk


Ice Cream Parlours and Coasteering: Wiard Sterk's guide to coworking

The first few months in my Connector role have been a revelation. As a (former) freelancer I thought I knew the make-up of the freelance community. However, travelling far and wide and meeting indycubers in a variety of locations has shown me that there’s much more to independent working than meets the eye...

In Milford Haven I met Carl, our anchor for the Smoke House, the co-working location in the marina. He is selling his mobile coffee bar (charges for pitches at festivals have gone up dramatically) and has set up an ice-cream parlour instead. Rhian in Newport runs Operasonic, a Youth Opera company, and was just recovering from a great community opera project at the Riverfront Theatre she had organised. Tony in Bangor is a business advisor and travels across the nation to meet clients wherever they are based. Ideally, he needs a desk and meeting room in every location, something indycube may well be able to help with.

Spaces and their hosts vary too. Design agency Gwe Cambria in Aberystwyth and local charity Itaca in Abergele both found themselves with premises too large for their needs, but were unwilling or unable to relocate. Opening up these offices to independent workers allows them to stay there, as well as build valuable relationships and reinvigorate their work. The Robert Owen Community Bank in Newtown recently moved to the third floor of the massive, historic, red brick warehouses built in the late 19th century for the Pryce Jones mail-order enterprise, the first such global venture. They converted part of this space for their own office use and set aside another for co-working desks, leaving plenty of this grand warehouse floor for an exciting future use, yet to be determined. If you’re passing (you can’t miss this grand building close to the station and adorned with large letters spelling Pryce Jones), do pop in and give them the benefit of your ideas.

TYF in St Davids offer a bustling office, alive with outdoor pursuit instructors dropping in for the most essential admin, before heading out again with another group to go coasteering, canoeing, surfing, rock climbing or whatever other adventure is on offer. Evenings are spent at the outdoor popup bar, with freshly baked pizza from the wood-fired oven and craft beers on tap. A great place to combine holiday and work, if the latter is unavoidable, and they may even give indycubers’ a discount on clothing purchases in the shop!

Finally, I ventured out to Hereford to meet James, a blacksmith who runs HerefordMake. We talked about how he and his colleagues could benefit from the factoring service, with late-paying clients common in this sector. We also explored how we could include his fully kitted-out training facility, with three forges, bronze casting facilities and a design studio, in the family of indycube co-working sites. Maker spaces may well be the next chapter in our co-working offer, with a fab-lab in Pembroke Dock, artist studios and a giant kiln at NomNom in Llanboidy and now potentially a blacksmithery in Hereford.

There are few boundaries to independent working and co-working, and aims to remove as many barriers as possible. membership offers a comprehensive package of benefits, from legal advice and support to an invoice factoring service, at a very competitive rate, to help you secure a regular and guaranteed cashflow. This in addition to access to the rapidly expanding network of co-working sites and an array of lucrative discounts.

So next up for me is a trip back to Bangor to help The Green House build its occupancy, see how things are progressing at IC Abergele (Itaca) and explore options for an indycube in Llandudno. Oh yes, and for a workshop with Jo Hinchcliff (@concretedog) to explore new uses for a spaceship supplying the International Space Station. Could the ISS be our next co-working site? You never know...

Wiard Sterk is indycube's first connector. His role involves travelling across the UK, meeting an array of indycubers at various locations and gaining insight in to their every day activities, needs and wants. Catch up with him on Twitter @wiardsterk.