Coworkers Quarterly Meeting

A big part of developing Cheltenham Coworking is engaging with members and asking for their ideas as to how they’d like to see the service progress. Every quarter we hold a member’s meeting in which we can share our progress and our aims for the coming months, as well as allowing members to have their say.
In July, we held our second quarterly meeting of the year, which was very kindly hosted by Anna Poulton at Cheltenham Art Office. We wanted to hold the meeting here, as Art Office is one of our valued passport venues and we thought it would be a nice idea for some of our newer members to meet Anna and see the space, as well as allowing her to be more involved in everything we’ve got going on. Anna was a wonderful host and provided some delicious cake!

There were plenty of ideas shared around which has given us a lot to think about. Our main aim at the moment is to host more regular networking events to help bring our members together and create a stronger community of like-minded business men and women. A suggestion that was made to add to this was to hold monthly social evenings that can be completely casual and simply give the members and chance to get to know one another in an informal setting.

I feel this would be a great way to engage with the group and create a better relationship with our members. We could also use this as an opportunity to both bring in new members, and make better connections with other venues, with an idea being to host each evening at different partner or potential partner venues around Cheltenham.
To keep track of all the new events we hope to be hosting, it was suggested that we should create a calendar page on our website where members can easily see what’s coming up, and even book into the events straight from our website. This would allow us to communicate with our members much easier, as I have found that it is sometimes difficult to reach everyone, as everyone has different preferred communication tools, so a page on the website would allow everyone to find out the relevant information at their own convenience. Hopefully, this would also give members the ability to organise and add their own events, as this is definitely something we want to encourage in the future. This is now at: Calendar

Finally, continuing with the work we’ve put in so far with the skills workshops, suggestions for other workshops people would like to see offered were writing for business, getting the most out of your LinkedIn profile, and managing your finances. With this we’d really like to see members hosting their own workshop sessions and sharing their own skills amongst one another.

I felt the meeting was really successful, and we got a lot of positive feedback of how we’re doing which is always nice to hear. I hope that these meetings will continue to bring out further improvements and I hope that members continue to get involved in these sessions to continue to help us progress.

As an extra bonus we were able to go to Deya Brewery afterwards as well!

MeganP

Hello from our new Cheltenham Coworking business developer

I have just started working full-time for George Traning & Development, taking responsibility for developing Cheltenham Coworking CIC, a social enterprise sponsored by George T&D.
I’m very familiar with Cheltenham Coworking CIC, as I have been working on a university placement since January. The placement was a business development role to help improve the membership service. It was in its first year of membership, so it was time to start working on something that could be sustainable and bring in even more members. We came up with the Coworking Passport: a membership card that would allow members to ‘travel’ around town to different coworking friendly venues and receive discounts and benefits, such as a free half day meeting room hire or free refills on coffee.
There was lots of planning that went into this which involved meeting up with venue owners, explaining what we wanted to do and seeing how they’d like to be involved. There was also some market research involved to find out what our members wanted to see offered on the service so we could tailor it to fit their needs in the best way. After this, we managed to get four venues, in addition to Create On The Square, offering their support to Cheltenham Coworking and generously giving our members exclusive benefits. We were really happy with the way the cards came out. They looked really smart and were able to act as an extra piece of promotion, with the hope that other people would see members using these cards and ask what they’re all about. We launched the cards at the Gloucestershire Business Show and were very enthusiastic about the response.
After this success, my placement was over, but I was asked to stay and work full time to continue with everything I was working on and keep improving the service even further. Originally, I had plans for more events and workshops that would get the members more involved with us and one another and so this was something that I was really keen to get started on right away. I wanted to encourage more engagement from the members as this is something I found slightly difficult to get before the business show, so I wanted to show the new members that we are actively working on projects to help them in even more ways.
We decided that it would be good to have an entire day dedicated to our members and to coworking, as this would hopefully be convenient for members especially for those who work from home so they could get out for the whole day. We have come up with Coworking Wednesdays, which we can hopefully implement in the coming weeks, which will allow for different opportunities throughout the day. Our plan is to start the day with a social brunch that we can also incorporate our surplus food project into, where members can come along, eat and drink, and chat with us and other members. After this, the afternoon will be free for members to work in whichever way they please; either on their own, with one another, or with us. Finally, the day will end with Wednesday Workshops: a training session that teaches the basics of business planning and growth. The workshops offer a different topic each week and allow visitors to learn new skills. Not only are they good for the members, but while I’m still learning my job it’s really good for me to get new perspectives on ways of thinking and improving everything I’m doing.
As part of the service we offer the option for members to use Create on the Square as a registered office address as well as getting their mail delivered here for collection. I feel this is something that is not being utilised as much as I’d like it to be and so have begun devising a policy for this so members have a clearer understanding on exactly what this involves. We’d also like to expand our mail service to include mail forwarding, and so I am looking into the logistics of these type of services and how we can best run this. I feel this is a good extra option to offer our members and adds another point to our ever-growing list of benefits. Registering a business allows the owner to have their company name and logo displayed at Create. I’d really like to promote this service because I feel having a range of different company details displayed at Create shows a sense of community and collaboration and that’s what we’re all about.
Looking forward to the future, my aims for the year are to have around 100 members from all walks of life and business sectors, as well as having around 10-15 venues on our passport who offer a range of different facilities to suit all needs. I’d like to target newer venues as I feel it’s good to get involved with these places from the start, helping both us and our members, as well as helping them with extra promotion and growth in their early days. Finally, I’d like to see different events happening every week, with a variety of choice, from networking workshops to social evenings, and would in particular like to see members hosting their own sessions on a regular basis. There are new opportunities popping up every day and we’re always coming up with new ideas, and so I am excited to see what the future of Cheltenham Coworking brings!

swiss4

Team Swiss at Create on the Square

A guest blog by four language students from Switzerland, who ran a project at Create on the Square as a work experience opportunity

We are four students from Switzerland and stayed in Cheltenham for three weeks with our host families. The aim of this stay was to improve our English skills. We visited several places during our spare time. Here are some of our Top 5 places: London, Oxford, Bath, Stonehenge, Bath.

We had the opportunity to work for Create on the Square. The Create on the Square team gave us the chance to lead our own project.

In the first week of our stay we did some surveys and a lot of speaking. We tried to find out what people would like to have on Coronation Square or what is missing. The goal is to revitalise Coronation Square.

We discovered there were many older people who live locally and there was a lot of interest in a Bingo event, so, in the second week, we started to organise a Bingo afternoon. We needed to create Flyers, write E-mails and order equipment. Afterwards, we distributed the Flyers and started to advertise our event.

In the final week, we delivered the Bingo afternoon, which was great fun. In addition, we helped the Create on the Square team to plan some future ‘Afternoon Tea’ events for people from local nursing homes.

Vivien says:
I came to England with the same aim as every other exchange student: to improve my English skills. To work for Create on the Square really helped me with my speaking skills, especially in the first week where we had to do the surveys and knock on doors. I felt my speaking skills start to improve.
I really liked to work for Create on the Square because it’s something completely different from my job in Switzerland. The contact with the people here was really nice and I’m happy that we had the chance to organise our own event.

Sophia says:
Me and three of my classmates have had the opportunity of doing an internship at Create on the Square in addition to going to classes in the morning. Working at Create on the Square was great. We had the chance to organise our own event which should take place in our third week here. We spent the first week doing surveys and talking to people in the area to find out what they would like to have on the Square. At first it was a bit hard for me because I was afraid of making mistakes but after a while it was just a daily routine and I actually enjoyed having a conversation with different people.
We started our second week by analysing the answers from the first week. The result was very clear: we decided to organise a Bingo afternoon. The next few days we spent planning, organising and advertising the event. To attract people’s attention we created a leaflet to distribute and hang up in public places such as the library or local shops.

Antonella says:
I had the opportunity to do an internship for three weeks here in Cheltenham with the main aim to improve my English skills. Besides the school, I could work at the marketing campaign for Create on the Square and be part of a project. The first week contained to do surveys with the objective to find out what people want to have. For that we had to knock on doors and ask people several questions. Afterwards the idea to organise a Bingo afternoon came up. So the second week included planning and organising that event. During the last week we had to advertise with own created leaflets. I think that my English skills improved during this three weeks, especially because of socialising with people around the area. Furthermore, the people here are really kind and helpful. I enjoyed working here. In addition, I’m thankful for this great opportunity I had.

Arik says:
I had the opportunity to visit the school and to work at the marketing campaign for “Create on the Square” in Cheltenham. In this three weeks we had the chance to organise our own event for the community. In the first week we were knocking on doors. In the 2nd week we were analysing our questionnaire, so we know what they wanted to have. At the end we knew what they wanted to have and so we started to organise a Bingo afternoon.
In our last week we had this Bingo afternoon and we fully succeeded in having a fun afternoon.
So I can say, this three weeks were awesome and we were glad to work for Create on the Square.

What is Create on the Square?

Because an empty space,

Will not be an empty space…

When we are learning together.

We can Create and inspire!

Jonny Fluffypunk, Opening of Create on the Square, 13 Aug 2016

 

“If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken…one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing.”[1]

The underlying notion behind the ‘Broken Window Theory’ is that when someone believes “no one else cares” they don’t care either. This is not about the window breakers having a particular propensity to be ‘bad’ or ‘uncaring’ people. It is just that we are affected by the environment we live in. “We are all creatures of the system we find ourselves embedded in”, as management expert Jeff Sutherland asserts.[2]

There may not even be anything intrinsically wrong with the physical environment, but the perception of lack of care leads to a ‘why bother to try to change it then?’ attitude.  This too easily leads to a downward spiral. If no one bothers to try to change it, it looks like no one cares, and therefore no one bothers…

A few years ago, the Coronation Square shopping centre in Cheltenham West was a sorry-looking site, with a large proportion of disused retail units and little signs of life. That has started to change, but the ‘no one cares’ perception still lingers on. That Coronation Square looks neglected, adds to the often held view that the surrounding Cheltenham West communities, by extension, have little to offer too.

We don’t believe that is true. We believe there is a huge amount of potential in the area and so we opened Create on the Square, to help people to realise that potential.

The decision to open a shop on Coronation Square was very deliberate. Before we moved in, the retail unit had been empty for over a decade. It was in poor repair and needed many months of work to convert it into the modern, comfortable venue it is now. By opening “Create on the Square”, we wanted to highlight our conviction that we do care and that our neighbourhood is worth bothering about.

So, what is Create on the Square?

In simple terms, Create on the Square is the name of a venue on Coronation Square, in Cheltenham, that predominantly operates as a café. But, it is really much more than that. “Create on the Square” is more of a mission statement than a venue. Our aim is to quite literally to inspire people to be creative in the Coronation Square area.

We want to encourage all kinds of creative enterprise. The Create on the Square café provides an accessible, sustainable and welcoming space to enable that.

The café provides free wifi and a variety of fresh food and drinks, giving local independent workers a casual space to cowork alongside others, as an alternative to working on their own at home.

It is also a friendly hub for the local community to meet in small groups to explore all kinds of talents, for example craft, writing and playing the ukulele.

A programme of workshops, business meetings and teaching events aims to inspire greater creativity and entrepreneurial activity, particularly socially beneficial activity.

Create on the Square provides an opportunity for local artists and other creative entrepreneurs to showcase their products to a wider audience. It also provides work experience and training for individuals to develop valuable workplace skills.

By creating a vibrant hub of community activity, Create on the Square is aiming to stir up life and energy in the Cheltenham West area.

Why is that important?

Well, firstly, we believe that is always a great thing for people to pursue their talents, whether that is in business or any other area. It is good for them, the local community, and also for society generally.

We believe it is especially important in the Cheltenham West area, because historically this has been an area of Cheltenham that has suffered from a variety of social issues, particularly lack of employment and training opportunities. There are many charitable organisations and community groups that have been working in the area to meet social needs, for many years, and they have seen a great deal of success. However, there is still more that can be achieved. Create on the Square is intended to complement this work. We want to inspire and enable local people to make the most of their talents, to help transform their own community.

We hope that turning a disused space into a new hub of creative energy activity will be paralleled by a similar regeneration of Coronation Square, and the wider Cheltenham West community.

We’re excited about seeing this vision come to reality and welcome anyone who would like to work with us.

 

[1] Kelling G. & Wilson, J., 1982, Broken Windows, in The Atlantic, March Issue

[2] Sutherland, J. 2016, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice The Work in Half Time

Youth Work Apprenticeship – The Beginning

Starting in March 2017, I will be doing an apprenticeship in youth work. It will be at Create on the Square, where I’ll be based mostly. I need to achieve a certain criteria to be able to get the qualification.

I am already helping out at Family Space on a Monday morning, looking after kids aged 0-5 years old, and I nanny for twins aged 1. I run the Code Club at Create every Tuesday, for 8-11yrs, and make sure that runs smoothly.

I am also working with the Aston Project, with a bunch of youths, aged 14+, who want to start a youth club. I will be helping them in order to make that work. I will not be telling them what to do, but I will be guiding them in order to keep it going.

We have had a few meetings already to get to know them and to see what it is that they want. They came up with things like Games Night and Funky Warehouse. Some of these things will be at Create. Others will cost a lot more and that means they will have to think of ways to fundraise to make it happen.

I will guide them in order to do these things. First I have made a plan for them for each month so they know roughly what they will be doing when. The next time I see them I will tell them the prices and what needs to be done before any of these events can go through. I have made sure that I have made a clear timescale, so they know when to do things, in order for things to run smoothly.

Once the meet is done, we will have agreed to the things that are needed. All that needs to be done now is to finalise everything and make sure any changes are made to the correct procedures.

I will be blogging more about my progress in youth work soon.

Managers, huh! What are they good for? …

Just completed another training course, preparing more Scrum Masters to be let loose on the world, and, as is often the case, their stated intention is to go back to their workplace and tell their management how “they are doing it all wrong”.

For those with any understanding of Scrum and agile management, that wont be a big surprise. Despite the Scrum management framework being around for over 20yrs in software engineering (and the underpinning ideas for a lot longer), there is still a huge amount of passive resistance. That is, many organisations ‘want’ (or, at least, see the need) to manage their businesses in a far more agile way, responding quickly to the fast-changing world we live in, but, at the same time, they also want to hold on to the comfortable management structures that they have been used to. As a result, they subvert the Scrum approach into a hybridised form that bears little resemblance to that envisaged in the Scrum Guide (www.ScrumGuides.org).

Over the last few years, I’ve delivered countless courses on agile management in a variety of business sectors, to all kinds of delegates, in places as diverse as Beirut to Milton Keynes. This recent course was attended by developers from a UK government department. Last week I delivered a course to senior directors in a large multi-national business. There are always particular issues of course, but if there is one consistent gripe, it is the difficulty of getting management buy-in.

I have pondered if the Scrum or agile ideal is simply a utopian dream that can never be achieved. I have seen it work reasonably well, and I’ve read the case studies of other successful deliveries, but there is always some variance from the Guide. Of course ‘Agile’ is not a state to achieve. The goal is to conduct our business more effectively, by becoming more agile. If Scrum is an impossible ideal, it is still worth pursuing it, in the pursuit of greater agility.  However, as plenty of folks in the ‘Agile World’ have argued, if it is so hard to adopt Scrum, maybe we shouldn’t try. Maybe we should work towards more effective delivery in ways that are less revolutionary for businesses.

The thing is that Scrum resonates with me, and also with plenty of the delegates I train (and the teams I work alongside, in consultancy). Delegates frequently go away frustrated that what they see in the classroom is the way they’d like to work, but knowing that it will be far from like that back in the workplace. The fact that so many see the potential encourages me to think that it is certainly worth pursuing.

But, if so many people want to make it work, why is it that it is so hard to adopt. Business is often complex of course, and there are all kinds of challenges to succeeding. However, I’d suggest there is a simple solution for most businesses seeking to be more effective: get rid of managers. That might sound nonsensical and naively simplistic, but I’d argue that is because we are simply used to a certain way of doing business that is based on traditional norms, which make it seem ridiculous. Many organisations are very ineffective, because the people who are doing the work, the people who actually know what needs to be done, are powerless to make decisions. While, the people with the power to make decisions, often have very little understanding of what really needs to be done.

It is a common gripe, that management are out of touch with reality, and the answer is often to try to adopt some new technique or management methodology to redress the balance. But that is only because most companies couldn’t imagine a world without managers. However, just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t, or shouldn’t, be done – and, in case, many organisations in recent years have begun that revolution to more holocratic and team-based forms of management.

In 1986, Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi published their influential article: The New New Product Development Game. The subtitle, Stop running the relay and take up rugby, is still as relevant, if not more so, to our present day and points us in the direction of a better metaphor for running effective businesses. Rather than base our structures on out-dated, hierarchical, command-and-control management structures, we should base them on team structures and build high-performing teams. We wouldn’t have managers running onto the pitch to tell a rugby player where to run with the ball, so why do we insist on managers telling knowledge workers how to solve complex development problems?

Let’s get rid of managers, share management between the people actually doing the work and train servant-leader Scrum Masters to support and coach delivery teams to help them become the best they can be. It may seem idealistic, but it has to be better than the alternative in many businesses.

cristian

My experience of working for George T&D – By Cristian

My internship experience

I’m an Italian boy, I live in a little city in northern Italy and I go to the High School.

This year me and my friends, Erika and Beatrice, decided to have an internship abroad and we asked for it at Inlingua School.

They suddenly found us a place: Create on the Square in Cheltenham.

I never heard about Cheltenham before and I really didn’t know what I was going to do, but I was very happy and excited for this new experience!

We arrived in Cheltenham the 4th December and began working on Monday.. I was a bit scared, but at the same time I was very enthusiastic.

I met lot of wonderful person in Create on the Square.. Tanya, Lizzie, Megan, Pete.. everybody has always been lovely and kind.. and it was all fantastic!

We are in charge of the development of the Pop up Shop Project.

Our first aim is to figured out what people of community really need and we began knocking on door and ask question to who lives there and in the market on Friday, to acquire more information as possible.

Then we started at looking for people who would like to run a pop up shop; we talked with lot of people and we took part a meeting of Gloucestershire Businessman and “Laptop Friday” at Smokey Joe’s.

Our intent is to let the Pop up Shop Project begin on Saturday in January.

I’m sure this experience has been very useful to me, and it will be important for my future; I learnt a lot about British people and their culture, and I will come back to England very soon.

I’m grateful to everybody that helped and supported me during this fantastic experience.

I will leave Cheltenham the 23th of December and I will come back here for just one week in January but I won’t forget all those wonderful people that I met during this journey.

beatrice

My experience of working for George T&D – By Beatrice

I am Beatrice and I am 16 years old. I am a italian girl and live in Como that is in northern of  Italy.

I go to the High School where I study international relationship of marketing.

I came in U.K. with two my friends Erika and Cristian that are my classmates in Italy.

We were here for to do an internship and thanks at Inlingua we found “create on the square”.

The first day we arrived at work and found our tutor Tanya that explained us what create on the square do. At the beginning I was very frightened of not be enough able. But with the time and thanks at the people that I met  I get used to stay here.

We took part of a project from the beginning. This consists in doing market researches between local community and find out what they want and need.

It is a very interesting and fascinating experience. In my country knocking on door wouldn’t be possible because people are not helpful and willing as they are here.

Then we created some persona profiles, where we described different people that were looking for new ways and new jobs, trying to achieve an aim.

This was very difficult and Beatrice and I worked hard.

I liked doing that because it helped me practising our written English.

We took part of the Christmas market and we helped Tanya, Megan and Lizzie during the day.

It was one of the best experience I have ever had. It was like we were in a movie. Incredible experience that will be in my heart forever.

A day we went to a meeting in a farm and it was nice, but for me that am shy was difficult talk with people more old than me.

On Friday we did the Laptop Friday, where we shared our project and met many people that do a lot different job.

The project consists in run a Pop Up Shop on Saturdays starting in January.

We worked a lot for this and I loved it. I think it is an amazing idea.

Cristian, Beatrice and I created a web site. It was the first time that we did that.

Then we shared it on social Networks.

So, this is my experience in U.K. specific at Create On The Square where I knew fantastic and generous people that I will remember forever. This period helped me with English particularly to listen it and understand.

erika

My experience of working for George T&D – By Erika

I am Erika and I come from northern Italy and I came in UK to do an internship.

I go to the High School where I study international relationship of marketing.

I am here with two friends and classmates, Beatrice and Cristian.

We found this place through Inlingua School and Create on the Square chose us to work.

On Monday 5th, my friends and I came there and met our tutor, Tanya.

We did some easy but important things.

We took part of a project from the beginning. This consists in doing market researches between local community and find out what they want and need.

It is a very captivating and fascinating experience. In my country knocking on door wouldn’t be possible because people are not helpful and willing as they are here.

Then we created some persona profiles, where we described different people that were looking for new ways and new jobs, trying to achieve an aim.

This was very difficult and Beatrice and I worked hard.

I liked doing that because it helped me practising our written English.

We took part of the Christmas market and we helped Tanya, Megan and Lizzie during the day. It was one of the best experience I have ever had. It was like we were in a movie. Incredible experience that will be in my heart forever.

A day we went to a meeting in a farm and it was very nice. We were in contact with the nature. Very nice!

On Friday we did the Laptop Friday, where we shared our project.

The project consists in run a Pop Up Shop on Saturdays starting in January.

We worked a lot for this and I loved it. I think it is an amazing idea.

Cristian, Beatrice and I created a web site. It was the first time that we did that.

Then we shared it on social Networks.

At the moment we have got very good results and I am happy of this.

So, this is my little experience her in the U.K. I think that will help me in the future and it is very important. Now I feel more confident with English, especially with the listening and the speaking.

I would like to thank all the people here, they are very special.