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Happy International Coworking Day!

Being a military spouse or partner comes with an access-all-areas pass to a world many of us didn’t necessarily anticipate embracing. Yes, most of us are no stranger to feelings of apprehension, isolation, and loneliness, but we’re also members of an exclusive group worth their collective weight in gold.

If you know me, you’ve almost certainly heard the following story before, as I often use it to illustrate how you can rely on other military spouses to have your back even if you’ve never met them before. We moved to Plymouth when my eldest son was 17 months old, and I was pregnant with #2. We’d been in our SFA for two weeks when my husband deployed for a couple of months.

No drama. It would give me time to get unpacked and make a few friends.

But, a few days after my husband sailed, I had a car accident. Nothing lasting, but I was taken to hospital on a spinal board and kept in for a few hours. I remember the paramedics asking me who they should call, and me being at a total loss - I didn’t know a blooming soul who lived less than 5 hours’ drive away. Long story short, the hospital staff called RN Welfare, and a kind lady drove my son and me home when we were finally discharged.

When we got home, all these amazing people turned up at my door to help out in a way I couldn’t have anticipated. One neighbour on the patch noticed Welfare had brought me home and popped in to make me a cup of tea and say ‘hi’; another neighbour brought me dinner; and yet another lent me a child car seat as my son’s was no longer useable. The community swung into action, and I was grateful.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous, though to connect with other military spouses or partners without any disasters happening?

That sense of connection and community is central to our ethos at the MCN; we want to enable you to forge links and build a circle you lean on, not just in times of crisis.

How Covid-19 has changed how we work

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and we all retreated to our homes, we created ways to connect that we’d never anticipated. I did Zoom chats, virtual happy hours with colleagues, quizzes, book groups … and some of those regular events are still going.

The global pandemic has also changed how we work; many industries that would never have considered the possibility of having staff work from home had to make a complete 360-degree pivot and, as a result, have embraced a hitherto unanticipated way of working. Some roles have gone from 100% office-based to hybrid, where the employee has the flexibility to work some days from home, and some from the office. And some people decided that post-pandemic, the time was right to join the Great Resignation and ditch the day job in favour of starting their own business.

When Sarah started the MCN pre-pandemic, she knew it would benefit military spouses and partners enormously, but I don’t think even she realised how the coworking concept would take off globally. Coworking has changed. The industry is growing at breakneck speed, and the standard five-day-a-week office experience is becoming less and less attractive as people realise that they have access to flexible workspaces that cater to their needs and where they enjoy being.

Businesses are seeing the benefits of coworking spaces for remote workers just as individuals see those benefits for themselves. While Team and Zoom do the job of facilitating meetings, as humans, we are social creatures. We LIKE meeting, connecting, and learning from one another.

MCN Coworking Hubs

Our MCN Coworking Hubs are places where you can genuinely bring your whole self to work, you don’t need to explain your unique lifestyle or why you face particular challenges because although our spaces bring people of all ages, professions, and interests together, we’re all also members of that exclusive club of military spouses and partners. Our workspaces are designed to make it easy to network and have conversations, from unlimited access to tea and coffee to open soft seating in breakout areas.

Maximising opportunities for interaction is a game changer when you’re isolated from your personal network and struggling to integrate into a new place. In an MCN Hub, spouses can expand their networks and learn from people in their industry or profession that they may never have met otherwise. Just by coming into the office.

Another huge contributor to the success of our Coworking Hubs is the boost in productivity many of our members experience. Our Hubs are designed to inspire you and give you a place where you can escape the confines of your married quarter (and your beloved family) and just get your head down.

In the post-pandemic world, I honestly believe that flexibility is the name of the game in terms of workspaces. And that is fantastic where military spouses and partners are concerned. This freedom allows us to pursue or continue in a career that would have been closed to us in the past due to frequent moves, lengthy deployments, or childcare issues. These days we can redefine our office hours and align our break times to meet our family needs.

Through our Coworking Hubs and Online Community, the MCN wants to help military spouses and partners overcome the barriers we’ve traditionally faced in the workplace, and facilitate communication and connection without having to go through a hospital visit to get there!



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