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Reflecting on the MCN Open Day

Saturday the 20th August saw the very first MCN Global Open Day when all of our Coworking Hubs flung open their doors for prospective members to come into the space and see what we have to offer.

Our wonderful Ambassadors were on hand to offer tea, coffee, and pastries and talk to visitors about what they enjoyed most about having access to a shared office designed especially for military spouses and partners. One of the most common pieces of feedback across all of our Hubs, from HMNB Clyde to RAF Valley, is that something our members value almost above everything else is the sense of separation of work/ home life that having access to a dedicated workspace offers.

It’s great to have a proper office-style space to focus in and it means I can separate my home and work life easily. It’s also been really useful for networking; Teams just doesn’t give you the water cooler chats you get in an office and it’s nice to talk to people in totally different jobs too. – Julia

One of the reasons that we were inspired to have an open day was not only so prospective new members could see how the workspaces could work for them. It was also so they could chat to current Hub members about why they love their Hub.

As Katie notes;

The hub is an excellent space to work from as an alternative to working from home or from a noisy coffee shop. I enjoy hearing about other members’ careers and businesses during the coffee breaks. The hub is well-equipped with tea and coffee facilities, Wi-Fi (better than in my quarter) and an easy-to-use printer. It’s great to coordinate working sessions with other members to build a sense of community.

We often hear from Hub members that coming into an ‘office’ stops them from getting bored of their own company and offers a change of environment which forces them to switch off Netflix and get productive! Leaving the house for work in a new physical space can often give you the head space to focus on your career rather than get distracted by domestic tasks.

But as well as fulfilling a vital function as a comfortable office space our Hubs have also developed into a vital part of how our members connect and build personal and professional relationships when they move to a new place.

I originally signed up to avoid being alone all the time. It’s been far more than that: I am more productive, I meet people and share ideas, and now with events organised around what the community needs, it’s even more valuable. I also like how easy it is to get membership, book and cancel desks and how flexible it is; you can literally go at dawn or dusk depending on your needs. - Csilla

This weekend I went to the newly opened Bovington Coworking Hub to welcome prospective members and I was struck by some of the commonalities in our experience of building a career as a military partner, despite the huge range of jobs that we do.

  • We all want to escape our homes, whether it’s a SFA or our own house. Spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week within the same four walls isn’t great for our mental health – particularly if we’re in a new place and haven’t managed to build a social network yet.

  • If we have a partner or children at home it can be impossible to concentrate

  • We need the flexibility to work the hours that suit out lifestyle and our family. Some of us are happy to do 9-5, whereas others need a work timetable that varies according to other responsibilities

  • Connecting with a group of like-minded people makes us feel much happier

The ethos of the MCN was demonstrated in full force last weekend as our Hub Ambassadors gave up a precious Saturday afternoon to share their experience of using a coworking space with other military partners. The amazing Hub Development and Liaison Lead, Linzi sorted the snacks but all the work around opening the Hubs fell to our dedicated volunteers who believe in the project so whole-heartedly.

The hub has enabled me to regain my sense of self. I wouldn't have been able to contemplate returning to self-employment without knowing that I could make use of a workplace outside of my home environment. It also serves as a sanctuary, free from distractions – Chloe

We really are a community and the nine Hubs, the Online Members’ Area, and the Facebook Community are at the heart of how we hope to move past barriers to creating the professional life you want – despite the challenges that being married to someone in the Armed Forces often flings in your path.



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