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Final Evaluation of the Military Coworking Hubs Pilot Project

The Military Coworking Network (MCN) was established in 2017 by a group of military partners who recognized the challenges faced by military spouses in pursuing their own careers. These partners wanted to create a supportive environment where military spouses could work and study together, addressing the sense of career instability caused by the mobile lifestyle of military families. The first Military Coworking Hub was set up by Sarah Stone and a team of volunteers at Leuchars Station. From there, the MCN grew and inspired military partners across the UK. In 2020, the MCN received support from various organizations, including an Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund grant and backing from the Royal Air Forces Association, as well as the Naval, Army, and RAF Families Federations. This support allowed the MCN to expand its grassroots initiative into an international network.

Coworking Hub Benefits

To ensure that the MCN continues to meet the needs of military spouses, an independent evaluation was commissioned to understand the project's benefits and areas for improvement. Today, the final independent Evaluation of the Military Coworking Hubs Pilot Project is being published. The evaluation acknowledged the range of difficulties faced by military spouses and partners due to their involvement in the military community. These difficulties include: 

  • living in isolated military bases

  • facing career progression challenges and CV gaps due to frequent relocations

  • assuming a disproportionate burden of supporting children

  • shouldering domestic responsibilities 

  • being far from their support network 

  • experiencing feelings of loneliness leading to mental health challenges 

  • reduced confidence

  • encountering a lack of job opportunities in their chosen industry at their posted locations  

The final evaluation survey revealed that military partners often feel that their careers are considered less important than their partners', and they must overcome various barriers to start, develop, or sustain their own careers. However, 59% of respondents to the Evaluation of the Military Coworking Hubs Pilot Project: First Phase reported an expanded network and increased connections since joining the Coworking Hub.

"It's a great opportunity for us to share contacts and ideas in a way that we'd never be able to do virtually, even using all the social media we have access to. It's just one of those things you just don't get when you're not face-to-face."

Increased Productivity

Increased productivity was a prominent theme in interviews. Some hub users indicated that the resources and set-up at the hub helped them to be more productive as they could rely on things like strong Wi-Fi connection.

The survey also found that working from the Coworking Hub in a stimulating environment with all necessary facilities increased productivity for the majority of hub users (91%). The vast majority of hub users reported fewer distractions (97%), more structure (88%) and improved working habits (78%), as well as increased motivation (87%).

"I'm more productive when I'm actually at the hubs doing work from there rather than at home because there are no distractions."

Working around others was also associated  with increased productivity, as people found  they were more motivated to work and to use  their time efficiently. They benefited from the  resource of other people’s expertise and  picked up good work habits from each other.

Positive Effect on Finding Fulfilling Jobs

  Furthermore, the evaluation demonstrated that regular attendance at the hubs had a positive effect on the job opportunities available to partners and spouses. Almost half of hub users have been looking for  a job in the last year (47%), and over half of  them reported finding it difficult to get a job  that suits their needs (55%). The majority of hub users report a positive  effect of the Coworking Hubs of their career  (61%).

"It's made me realise I can start my own  business if I wanted to - I think  sometimes you just need the  confidence to give it a go."

Switching off when working from home was  highlighted in interviews as a significant  challenge and disadvantage of working from  home. 69% of Coworking Hub users also found a similar  challenge with ‘switching on’ – getting in the  right frame of mind to work, without leaving  the house and entering a working  environment.

"Just being able to come out to an  office, and have that separation, it's  made an absolute world of difference.  You feel like you're actually working  and building a business rather than sat  at home amidst a pile of ironing while  your serving spouse is out doing whatever."

Preparing for the Next Stage

The independent survey found that working from the hubs makes users’ feel  less lonely, improves their confidence and  their mental health and wellbeing and helps  them to regain their personal identity.

We are thrilled with the results of the final stage of the external evaluation and will be working hard to ensure that the learnings are incorporated into the next evolution of the MCN. If you would like to read the full Final Evaluation of the Military Coworking Hubs Pilot Project survey, you can read it here.

For those in a Coworking Hub location (Akrotiri, Blandford, Bovington, Bulford, Clyde, Chivenor, Leuchars, Sandhurst, Valley) please get in touch via our Hub Page to book a free trial to see what our coworking spaces can offer you.

You can also click here to sign the Hub Register to get your location to the top of the list for a new Hub when the MCN moves into its next iteration.



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