A POP-UP office for home-based workers that began life as a one-off event is now set for national expansion.
Washington-based entrepreneur Jayne Graham initially came up with the idea to promote her online venue directory SpaceonTap, where small businesses or lone workers can find occasional office space when they need it.
But the Colleagues on Tap Co-working Days for Homeworkers event has now been run more than 35 times across the region. Ms Graham said: “After the first event people asked when I’d be holding the next one, so I quickly realised I was on to something and was keen to oblige.
“Like me, millions of people are now running their businesses from home as it has lots of advantages. But there are definitely disadvantages too.
“Anyone setting up a business will know that it can be a pretty lonely job at the best of times, but if you’re working at home that isolation can become a real problem and, as a result, many home-based businesses never quite manage to reach their full potential. Colleagues on Tap co-working days have contributed to solving that problem.”
The events allow people to get on with their own work while in the company of other businesses, but also provide networking opportunities.
Ms Graham, who started her first business in 2004 so she could juggle work with being mum to twin girls, said: “It’s amazing how much can be gained from talking through an idea with someone who’s genuinely interested but who has no stake in your business.
“We always incorporate a business discussion after lunch too, to make sure people go away with new knowledge as well as new contacts.
“We’ve talked about social media, marketing, finance and a whole range of other business topics, and the emphasis is on sharing experiences so it’s really interactive and supportive for the people involved.” She has now launched a Colleagues on Tap associate scheme, so venues can run their own events across the UK.
“The Beacon and Newcastle Business Village are the first venues to take on a licence, and so far it’s gone brilliantly,” said Ms Graham.
“I’ll be continuing to run my own feature events in unusual and creative places which are always a sell-out, whilst my business centre associates will provide a service to local business people looking for regular co-working opportunities on their doorstep.
“I’m keen to locate new venues in Durham, Sunderland, Northumberland and across Teesside in the next six months before launching nationally by Christmas.”
It’s amazing how much can be gained from talking through an idea with someone