Will working culture change after COVID-19?

It’s safe to say the current climate we’re experiencing is completely (we’re going to say it!) unprecedented. Many of us have had to be creative with our adaptations, play a number of roles simultaneously and also take a step back to evaluate the important things. What we’re wondering is what the lasting impact of the pandemic will be on working culture when things return to ‘normal’. Will things fully go back to the way they were or will we see a sizeable change in working lives across the country?  

Realigning our mission, vision and values.

We know from speaking to a number of our partners over the past few weeks that many of us are finally ploughing through a to-do list we’ve been putting off for months. It might be finally sorting through that admin you’ve been avoiding or finally committing to a website revamp. 

But in addition to this, it’s been a great time for us all to have a hard look at who we are as a business. Mission, vision and values can often be throw away statements and not a true reflection of what we stand for. How have you handled the crisis? Does it fall in with your original mission, vision and values or have you found something else come to the surface? 

A fantastic example of this is the recent story from Great Western Hotels. When the time came to close the hotels to the public, GWH offered their rooms to key workers. Not only did this mean their staff could keep working but they also gave something back; fitting in perfectly with their values of service excellence and being a good member of the community.

Is it time for flexible working to shine? 

Seeing businesses large and small adapt to remote working over the last few weeks has been remarkable; with hoards of employees moving their entire desks to a corner of their living rooms, juggling work and family life in completely unique circumstances. 

Many will have never had the chance to work like this before. For some, it may well be their worst nightmare, for others it may be a transformational way of doing things. In the extreme, months down the line, we may see completely new operational strategies from companies. There will surely be new challenges faced by companies if these things come to pass. The remote working resistance may ease, with workers taking back agency over their own schedules. The rise in coworking may well continue to increase as employees seek out productive work spaces closer to their homes. We talked more about the growing popularity of coworking in our previous blog

There’s no doubt that certain aspects of life as we know it will change forever after the pandemic. The extent of these changes remains largely unknown, but there are certainly interesting times ahead for all of us. At The Northern Affinity, we continue to support our existing partners and welcome new businesses into the fold. Whether you continue to work remotely, return to the office or change your working life completely, we’ll be here for you! Let’s see what the future has in store for us.

Why has coworking become so popular?

There has been a significant increase in the amount of coworking spaces appearing all over the country. Statistically, the amount of people using a coworking space has risen year on year. We thought we’d take a closer look at why coworking has been gaining popularity and what you as a freelancer or small business stand to gain. We discussed the increase in self employment and freelance work in our previous blog

Firstly, what is coworking? It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot but what does it actually mean? There are a few definitions out there, but we thought this summed it up nicely.
‘Coworking is working together under one roof, using the same resources but for different companies.’

Keep you and your business looking and feeling professional.

When freelancing or working as part of a small team, we often start out with an idea at our kitchen table. Part of growing your business can be making the decision to leave the kitchen behind and venture out to the big wide world. 

We’ve all been there. Meeting clients at random coffee shops and cafes. Coworking spaces can provide that professional feel to your meetings. They will often provide meeting room spaces with refreshments for you to host your clients comfortably and professionally. A lot of the time, they are located in a central, convenient location, making it easy for your clients to meet with you. 

As your business begins to grow, you’ll probably want to start thinking about having a fixed office address to protect your privacy. Using a coworking space, you will often be able to utilise virtual office services, giving you a fixed address and phone number and potentially storage for your business. Not only this, it will increase your company’s legitimacy

Meet and collaborate with others in your field.

Coworking spaces will often house others in a similar position to yourself. The spaces are much more than just a desk in a building. Newer offices tend to boast a modern environment to boost a creative and productive atmosphere. 

Put your brand in front of people that can help you with exposure. You never know who you might find in there, too! There might be just the service you’ve been waiting for to move your business on to the next level. Users of coworking spaces often have access to additional events, workshops or seminars to help you grow as a business. All of these events are a fantastic way of meeting like minded professionals both in your industry and others. 

Working solo can be isolating. Coworking spaces have allowed freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs to build new communities and soundboard their ideas. Partners of The Northern Affinity are able to use our designated coworking space, The Northern HQ as part of their package. The NHQ is a place for our partners to come and work, share ideas and catch up with other members of the community. 

You can find out more information on The Northern HQ on the website.

Finding your business tribe – the benefits of networking.

Maybe we’re biased, but we think networking groups are a pretty good idea. Whether you’re a regular at your group’s weekly meeting or part of a social media message, there’s a community out there for everyone. There’s many benefits to joining a group; we think we can sum them up to three main wins. 

Business

Whenever starting a new business, it’s important to be visible. A community can help get your business on the map and get your name out to a whole range of new clients. Some argue that visibility is as equally important as ability. Never underestimate the power of a word of mouth referral! 

There are many opportunities for business collaboration when you join a networking group. Your product or service might be the missing ingredient for someone else’s growth. Utilise your new connections to get a fresh perspective on business challenges and get lots of fresh ideas on how to move forward.

Education

Once we get older, we forget that we have a lot to learn. There are many opportunities to share knowledge when part of a network. Often groups will have guest speakers specialising in their particular field. You might even realise that that speaker is the key player in helping you implement your latest idea. 

Take advantage of the variety of different businesses you meet. You might meet the person who can help you elevate your business to the next level over a cup of tea! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Chances are, you will be able to get an answer to every question from your new connections. 

Social

Working from home or on your own, whether you’re self employed or not, can be lonely. One of the most obvious benefits to finding your business community is the social life that comes with it. 

Business can be a tough game. It’s important to know you have others around that understand your challenges and can offer support when times get tough! Networks will often hold events for their partners. You can catch up with your connections and hear from many inspiring people in other fields. The Northern Affinity’s next partner event will be held on Friday 28th February and is open to non-partners so if you’re looking to find your business tribe, please book a place today. 

Finding your community in business boasts many different benefits. Whether you’re aiming to make new connections, learn something new or just looking to make some new friends, there’s something for everyone. If you’d like some more information about The Northern Affinity and how we can connect your business to other like minded professionals, please get in touch and arrange a meeting today.

The Northern Affinity Partners Meeting – Friday 31st January 2020

We enjoyed a fantastic partner event on Friday. It was a great opportunity to connect and share valuable knowledge. We will be hosting these events on the last Friday of every month at the Northern HQ

Business and Brand Strategy

Distinguishing a clear business and brand strategy can be confusing. However, we were lucky enough to hear from Brenda Etchells (Carduus Ltd) and Fliss Lee (Honest Folk) about combining the two to find the ‘sweet spot’ where your business values meet your customers values to create one cohesive strategy.

We have all experienced a business who don’t seem to practise what they preach when it comes to company values. We discussed at length the importance of defining your values; not just by using positive buzz words you think your customer wants to hear, but by delving in to what really matters to your customers and ingraining these in the way you run your business. 

Using some interesting examples, we learnt more about what makes up branding (it’s more than just a logo!) and how making some simple changes can strengthen your brand and help towards achieving your business goals.

 

Sales Mentality

In the afternoon, we welcomed Pete Evans (Ventas Sales) who took us through the sales process, with a difference. Identifying your sales mindset and knowing where your weaknesses are will ultimately improve your performance. Even simple things like putting your phone away before a pitch can make all the difference to your mindset when entering the room. 

One thing we often forget with sales is the importance of practising the process. Grab a friend or your business partner and go through your pitch so you’re confident before stepping into the room with the big players! There were lots of useful things to take away and I think we will all be spicing up our sales process and improving our mindsets to make sure we achieve our goals in sales.

The Northern Affinity News

Yorkshire Meetups

We are very grateful that many of you travel from far and wide to come and connect which is why we’re looking into arranging some future sessions in both Huddersfield and Harrogate to expand our community at The Northern Affinity. 

Dates for your diary: 

Our second round of peer group taster sessions will be running on Wednesday 26th February.
There will be a free open-day for hot deskers on Wednesday 27th February. Please share this with your connections who may be interested in trying out the co-working environment.
Sarah Bradley will be running a HR clinic on Wednesday 27th February for anyone wishing to discuss their HR strategy.
The next peer group coaching session for The Northern Affinity partners will be taking place on the morning of Friday 28th February before the next partner meeting. This meeting will be open for non-members to attend so please invite your connections along. Please contact Michael to reserve a space. 

For further details on The Northern Affinity and any upcoming events, please contact Michael.

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