In this blog, TMP veteran Phillip Reid shares how and why The Virtual Pot has been such a useful resource, as well as reflecting on his own experience working with a virtual coworking community.
Nearly 13 years ago, The Melting Pot set about it’s mission to stimulate and support social innovation by opening the doors to Scotland’s first coworking space. As time’s rolled on we’ve built an amazing community of like-minded people on a mission to make our world a better place.
Most of our services are in-person, we have always believed shared space to be a key to community. Of course, this means having to close our doors during the COVID-19 crisis has thrown up some new and unexpected challenges. For us and our community. But, luckily (and typically) we had some ideas up our sleeves that put us in good stead when weathering this storm.
TMP is constantly coming up with new ideas and adapting to the ever-changing world. We’ve been pondering how we could better connect our vibrant coworking community in the virtual world for some time. The initial idea was to have a Slack workspace for our members and, like most of our ideas, we assumed that this would be simple enough to do which wasn’t entirely true. The research and design (led by lovely Anna) took months until we finally felt that the virtual workspace had the same (or similar) essence as the physical space that we all know and love.
After launching The Virtual Pot (sooner than expected due to lockdown), we had an online coworking space to work in and heaps of lovely feedback from our members. Not only from regular users of the coworking space who are having to work from home, but also from our members who we don’t get to see as often. Virtual coworking has been key to members and staff alike during these difficult times, allowing us to stay connected, attend and run events, share news and resources and even share a cup of tea.
A warm welcome
As someone having to work from home after spending nearly 10 years working in a physical coworking space surrounded by a vibrant community, anxious doesn’t even begin to describe the way I was feeling. First of all, I was used to having the support from my team and being able to have regular conversations. None of this would be available whilst working from home, and I’m sure there are many people out there that were put in the same situation as me. Luckily I was still able to have regular check-ins with my team using our own Slack channel and Zoom calls for that added element of human interaction. But that’s wasn’t enough, I still missed all of our members. Step forward The Virtual Pot!
Now I had everyone sharing insights from their day in ‘Pets Corner’ and ‘The Great Outdoors’. We could chat, keep each other accountable during the focus sessions and meet up for afternoon tea breaks and Friday drinks. There was a real sense of community spirit and coming together which, for me, relieved anxiety and stress.
TMP is a place where people can come along to work, meet, learn, connect and collaborate, and TVP is no different. Our TMPEvents programme allows our members to attend or run a learning or social event for free. Now members can do this from the comfort of their own home via Zoom. Our regular social TMPEvents Members’ Lunch, Friday Pub Fun and Members’ Show & Tell have been as popular as always and this time we aren’t limited by room capacity or time limits. In fact there were about 15 people at the first Friday Pub Fun which went on well into the wee hours.
Our Learning TMPEvents are either facilitated by a member or occasionally an external partner and are usually an hour long. Members can learn from experts about a range of different subjects including finance, presentations, facilitation and marketing. If someone wants to share their expertise with the TMP community, all they would need to do is come and speak to a Host who’ll set up the Zoom call and promote the event through our social media channels and mailing lists. You can attend these events even if you’re not a member – check out upcoming events here.
Virtual peer network
One of the benefits of being part of a coworking community is having the mutual support of the people around you. This is readily available in a physical coworking space and a virtual one. Something as simple as asking a ‘how to’ question will get an almost instant reply, and with our lot it’s likely someone will know the answer (I’ll at least hazard a guess).
Daily Focus Sessions have been part of many member’s daily routines since the start of The Virtual Pot. This member-led daily session runs from 10am-12pm and is designed to increase productivity through group accountability. We’ll check in via Zoom at 10am and share what we are going to be working on for the next 90 minutes. Then for the next hour and half we’ll get rid of all distractions (phones, notifications etc) and get on with what we set out to do. At the end of the session we’ll check in and see how everybody got on. Then that’s the day off to a productive start. Sharing success isn’t only for the Daily Focus Sessions, you can also share your achievements on the Little Wins channel on TVP where you will receive the well-deserved ‘thumbs up’ from your coworkers.
Incredible resource and opportunity base
The internet is obviously full of infinite information, but how much of it is relevant? At TVP you can share resources and opportunities that members will actually find useful. TVP has been the ultimate library for funding opportunities, business-relevant resources and news.
We are not quite ready to accept new applications for The Virtual Pot yet, we need to work out if it’s feasible for us to deliver after losing most of our income which normally comes from in-person services. However if you’re interested in joining this wonderful virtual coworking community complete this short survey and we’ll be in touch if we open up membership.