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Jell your work life with social activities at Flirt
WORKING from home can be an enviable lifestyle – but it’s possible to miss the human contact of office life.
Jelly has taken off in more than 100 places across the world, where home workers get together to work while enjoying some of the social interaction they would otherwise miss.
Bournemouth’s Jelly is based at Flirt Cafe Bar at the Triangle, where anything from a couple of people to a dozen go along every Wednesday to do some work and chat.
Tim Waugh, a software engineer with Red Hat, says the social skills can go rusty if they are not practised.
“Working from home for a long time, you can lose that skill unless you take action to retain it,” he said.
“I’ve got a high tolerance to being quite alone, but after a while you start to miss office culture. You start to realise you just aren’t so good at social interaction.”
The first Jelly was established in 2006, when two New York freelancers were talking about the lack of company that comes with working from home. They decided to invite a group of fellow freelancers to bring their laptops and work together in their apartment for the day. The name came from the jelly beans they were eating.
A wiki page followed and the concept took off in the UK with a branch in Bristol in 2009.
A group started at Flirt just a year ago but folded when the person running it got an office-based job.
Rob Hazell, co-owner, of Flirt, said: “Two of the people who used to come to it then contacted us and said they would like to start it up again.”
Self-employed website developer Paul Stenning, who revived the group with Tim Waugh, said: “A lot of friends in day to day life are people you work with. You don’t have that when you’re working from home.”
Ruby Adams is a dance teacher and director of NestSpace, a co-working studio for creative people in Bournemouth.
“People miss that water cooler discussion. They say the most important parts of business are sometimes done over a cup of tea,” she said.
Although the atmosphere is unlike formal business networking events, some people have found freelance work as a result of the sessions.
And while there is more noise and distraction than at home, some members say that can be a good thing.
Tracy Willoughby, a freelance writer under the name Anna J West, said: “At home it would be quiet. A certain level of background noise and other people talking I think can help with productivity.”
Paul added: “I tend to do more sorting emails here, rather than more in-depth coding which needs the kind of concentration you can give at home.
“I tend to plan what I’m going to do when I’m here. This week was sorting out my email. I’ll think ‘That would be an ideal thing to do at Jelly’.”
For Flirt, all that’s required to facilitate the club is wi-fi and power.
UK Jelly takes place at Flirt from 10am to 2pm every Wednesday. Visit uk-jelly.org.uk for details.
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