The social working map

I’ve been meaning to create this map for ages, and here it is.

It’s a map to show social working spaces in Staffordshire (borders are fuzzy, add places wherever you want, we’ll introduce a bit of discipline if it gets too full).

As many of us become less reliant on offices for much of our work, social working spaces can help make work more sustainable by cutting down on the amount of commuting people have to do. Also for freelancers working at home, social workspaces are useful for meetings and to avoid stir-craziness.

Stoke-on-Trent lends itself very well to having more social working hubs, being a city with lots of different centres. The county has a similar make-up of dispersed towns and villages. Many of us have to travel around a lot and could reduce this if there were more places where we knew we could plug ourselves in, bump into people we know and get a bit of work done.

Social working is a good business model too, from the simple coffee shop which offers an uncovered plugpoint and a wifi code to the more structured membership centres such as The HubTechHub and One Alfred Place to name a few in London. If this sort of model emerged, I think a lot of voluntary sector and social enterprises would consider spreading the money that they currently spend on one office so that they could access a few – secure availability of storage is the crucial factor they’d need to have. City council workers would also benefit and the council is well-placed with all its buildings to develop this kind of scheme in partnership with the business centres it has often part-funded through different streams; perhaps this would make a good LEP proposal.

What is growing in popularity in the area is social working and networking events with the most recent, Staffs Marketing Academy, attracting a good turnout. There are also a number of business breakfast clubs and the Jelly working day takes place monthly at the Moathouse. Typically these charge a fee to cover food and room hire and are quite business-focussed, but I’ve always found them friendly and welcoming to non-sales types like me. The Business Brokers, part of the Chamber, also run events which are more often free.

So to gather this together I’ve used Google maps so it links easily to other ratings and more information about the places.  It’s open and I’ve started adding my favourites, so please add anywhere you know about to it. There are instructions on the map or if you get stuck just add details as a comment here.

If you are a freelance or other worker looking to get out and about more, then Twitter is what many people use to organise meetups or check-in to places they are working if they’re interested in seeing who else is about. Creative workers are a bit more elusive and where there is social organising going on it often takes place on Facebook or in real life networks. For more links, explore the network tag and also the monthly events list.


Working in Stoke

We can do more than just tell people to get a job or starve. What is working in Stoke?

At the time of writing, significant national cuts are being announced and more are being proposed locally. Cuts have been taking place in the city for a long time, with the recession and efficiency drives taking their toll on all sectors. Stoke-on-Trent was featured within Channel 4’s coverage of the cuts and the effect they will have on places like ours, which research suggested is the third-least resilient city in the country. The Channel 4 report referred to a ceramics industry ‘long gone’, which is not the case, although it is a much smaller employer now.

As a city that has relied on government support for a very long time – decades if not centuries – cuts naturally make people very nervous. For people in vulnerable positions, the difference in income and support could be critical. Digital links make it possible to show that Stoke is not a remote, desperate outpost but a place with people that can add enormous value to investment.  Stoke-on-Trent is a naturally sustainable city, with creative and industrious communities that would benefit from being aggregated rather than tamed. We have strengths in the creative and digital industries as well as charity, faith and voluntary sector – yet the big picture of Stoke is often seen as the struggle or controversial cooperation between public and private sector giants.

The function of Social Stoke is aggregation, so this page will seek to link to conversations about what works in Stoke as well as ideas for working both within North Staffordshire and further afield. The aim is to collect links, debates, evidence and arguments that might be useful to those looking to assist Stoke, as well as those hoping to inspire and create with the people of the city.

If you want to join in, please leave a comment with any links, tweet @socialstoke or tag a link ‘for:socialstoke’ in delicious.

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