Before I write about my decision to find a coworking space in London to operate from, I just want to quickly follow up regarding my last post on wearables. An interview with Dr Jay Parkinson, a "physician entrepreneur" who some call the doctor of the future, was published last week. When asked his opinion on wearables, he dismisses them as "nonsense". He also states that "I don't think people will ever use webcams in a significant way in healthcare", when asked about the possibility of people being diagnosed through webcam and mobile apps.
I ask you then, if wearables truly are nonsense as he believes, then why is the US Air Force researching developing wearable sweat sensors for realtime blood test results? When it comes to video calling in healthcare, why is the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in England undertaking a trial where doctors will consult with patients via Skype? Have the US Air Force & NHS got it all wrong?
My search for a place to interact with others
Now, ever since I quit my job, and have been doing my own thing, I tend to work at home, or work in coffee shops when I've got meetings in London. I can work anywhere in the world, chiefly because much of my work involves working with data. However, despite all the progress I've achieved, there are days when I feel isolated. Particularly when I'm contemplating new ideas. I experienced this as an entrepreneur before when I quit my job to daytrade on the UK stockmarket back in the dotcom boom of late 90s. I made (and lost) in 6 months, enough money to buy a Ferrari [just a figure of speech, never actually bought one!], but the experience was socially isolating, and one of the main drivers in me going back into a salaried job in a buzzy office in an advertising agency.
However, times have changed, especially here in London. In certain parts of the city, there are an abundance of co-working spaces. I went to check some of them out. Some great places, but a mixed bag.
I found many coworking spaces seem to be designed for 5 year old children, given the horrible little chairs they have on offer. I work in the world of health, I wanted a space that had ergonomic chairs.
I turned to Twitter to see what the crowd could suggest.
So a coworking space named "Huckletree" replied, and so I paid them a visit, and tried working there for a day. I travel so much I don't really need a permanent desk, just a community that I can 'hot desk' in when I'm in town.
I was impressed by the experience, I signed up for their flexible package, allowing me 10 days of 'hot desking' a month. So why did I choose this unknown space, when there are many more established and well regarded coworking spaces in London?
1. Community, community, community. I've learnt over the years that the communities you inhabit and/or create can either open your mind or close your mind to new opportunities. Whilst many tech coworking spaces have very diverse communities inside the offices, the environment once you leave the space is very tech centred. What I love about Huckletree's location is that it's in the middle of Clerkenwell, a bustling London community. When I step out of their space, I come across all sorts of people, from office workers grabbing their cappucinos before work, to workers from the historic Smithfield market who might be finishing their shift. It's also literally moments away from the pub where I held my first Health 2.0 London event in 2012, so maybe there is a special energy about the area for me?
2. The other coworkers - a really mixed bunch, it's truly refreshing for me. The space is still just a few weeks old, so it's not full up yet. However, the people I've met there so far are in completely different industries (not all are tech), working on some very fun projects and ideas. It's easy for one to get stuck in a groove, especially as one gets older. Already, I've had my thinking challenged by conversations I've had at Huckletree over a coffee, and I hope that continues with each visit.
3. The potential - I'm inspired by those who dare to be different, who experiment, who take risks in life. When I did my trial day, I could 'feel' the potential for Huckletree to become one of the best coworking spaces on the planet. Like many of the decisions I've made in my career, I've simply listened to my 'gut feeling'. I don't know if Huckletree will become the best coworking space in the world, but I don't see why not, and I want to be part of their journey.
4. The small details - Regular readers will have noticed I have an array of gadgets, and all of these gadgets run on batteries that need charging. As a geek, I always search for USB power ports that offer 2.1A, as it means faster charging of my devices. At Huckletree, I noticed each desk had TWO 2.1A USB ports for charging devices. That makes a BIG difference to me. In addition, they have an abundance of regular power sockets.
5. Sustainability - It's the UK's first sustainable coworking space, and that's to be applauded. It's again the small details that I notice, from the eco-kettle, to the sheer amount of natural light that pervades the space through the multiple windows.
6. Hours of operation - I found some coworking spaces didn't offer pay as you go memberships and/or were limited to 9-5 office hours. Many of my clients are based in the US, and the fact that Huckletree are open until 8.30pm Mon-Fri, is really useful for me.
7. Multiple spaces - I often need peace and quiet when doing some research, and sometimes I'm on the phone all afternoon. Sometimes I want to have a private phone call where nobody can hear me. I was impressed that Huckletree has been designed to cover all my needs. One floor looks like a normal coworking space, but when you go to the top floor, it's designed to be a 'quiet' space with no phone calls allowed. In addition, there are 'Time Machine' booths where you can have that private phone call or teleconference.
I also found the vibe of the founder, Gabriela Hersham to be very unique, and it's her values that resonate throughout the space. It's clear that Gabriella has put her heart & soul into creating Huckletree, and since that's how I approach my projects too, it reminds me of how powerful it can be when one is authentic and aligned to one's core values.
Here is a short video from Gabriela explaining more about Huckletree.
For readers of my blog who decide to sign up to Huckletree before May 31st 2014, I've managed to get you 15% off your first month's fees. Simply use the promotion code, thanksmaneesh.
Huckletree may not be to everyone's tastes, but I'm likely to be working from Huckletree at least 2 days a week. So if you find yourself in the area and wanting to chat about Digital Health over a cup of coffee, don't be a stranger!
[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties with Huckletree]