I won’t mince my words: I am absolutely rubbish at working from home. It’s never been a strength of mine, partly because my house is too full of Pokemon paraphernalia to create a productive workspace (I have little kids, I’m not just weird), partly because I’m an annoying chatty person who likes distracting people and partly because I actually enjoy commuting; I need that work/home separation and I love having an excuse to wear nice clothes, smear my face with makeup and get stuck into a good book.
So, when tiney, where I’ve worked as Head of Content for 18 months, announced mid-pandemic that they were going fully remote, I freaked out. One of the things that attracted me to the job in the first place was getting to realise my “swanning around at a startup off the glamorous Old Street roundabout” dream and, thanks to Covid, that dream was quickly SHATTERED.
But then along came Desana. Now, most weeks, like a modern day Dick Whittington except with a Macbook and a face mask instead of a bag on a stick, I trudge across London to make my fortune.
On a Sunday night, with my work calendar in front of me and my Desana app ready for action, I always plot my movements for the week. We have a Slack channel at tiney called “meet people in person” where we can arrange to join up with colleagues at workspaces and where I can often be found pleading for human company with varying degrees of success. This week should be a good one; it’s starting to feel like I’m not the only one who’s craving more real life connection.
For me, getting out and about on a Monday has become essential for setting the tone of the week - it’s my favourite day to meet up with colleagues and remember what the hell I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
This Monday, I’m trying out a Desana space I’ve never been to before: Only Connect in Kings Cross, along with Anna, John, Tom and Laura from the tiney team. John and Tom live all the way in Birmingham and I haven’t seen them outside of video calls for nine whole months, so it’s all very exciting… they’re both taller than I remember but it’s a shame Tom didn’t bring the cat that’s usually on top of him on Zoom.
As Desana spaces go, Only Connect is a pretty quirky one, as it’s in an old church and, appropriately enough, "Angels" is playing as I walk in. I started my career in a very noisy magazine office, so I like it when workspaces have music playing (disagree? That’s what noise-cancelling headphones are for). I’m not sure if the people who run Only Connect were feeling particularly sentimental on this random summer Monday, but today’s playlist is full of cheesy love songs, which is quite cheering, although it’s hard not to sing along (even I’m not quite that annoying).
When "Angels" comes on again at 5.30pm, it feels like it’s a sign that it’s time to leave, so we head for a drink just up the road in Coal Drops Yard. There are a lot of factors to consider when picking a workspace for the day, but “proximity to nice drinking spots” is definitely a big one.
I live in Catford, south east London, so I’m always begging the Desana team to find more coworking spaces in the area for those days when I need a quick commute or just want to pop out for a few hours. The lovely Oru Space in East Dulwich is one of the closest to me, and it’s a particularly nice one, with a great cafe (I’m not a coffee person, but apparently it’s pretty good). They even have yoga, but I’m not very bendy or relaxed so I haven’t bothered with that yet.
I’m not meeting up with any tiney colleagues today, but Oru is a good spot for solo working, with rows of well-designed desks in very on-trend hues. When lunchtime comes and I’m craving human conversation, it’s time to go for a quick walk with a mate who lives just round the corner. Proximity to real friends is another priority for me when browsing spaces on Desana. If you’re getting the impression that I’m quite needy, you’re absolutely right.
I’ve recently changed departments at tiney, and I’m a bit nervous today as it’s my first time officially working with my new teammates, Matt, Kim, Laura and Claire, and we’ve all booked spots at The Office Group in Victoria. When a few of you are meeting up, finding a workspace that can squeeze you all in together without needing to book a meeting room can be a bit of a gamble, but like most of the TOG venues, this place is big and impressive with plenty of different seating options.
We manage to get a big table to work at together, which is lucky as Matt’s brought along the most enormous post-its I’ve ever seen to help us get stuck into some group strategy stuff. Despite being a writer, I’ve neglected to pack a pen, but since I’m the only one on the team who isn’t a former teacher or childminder, I needn’t have worried; they’ve all got about ten spares. We have a productive morning before breaking for lunch and getting to know each other a bit better at Rosa’s Thai Cafe round the corner.
I won’t lie, one of the things I miss most about office life is the gossip, so when certain members of the team start spilling the beans about their love lives, I’m delighted.
I have quite a lot to get through today, so I work from my kitchen table in the morning, and then spontaneously decide to book a slot at Work.Life on Bermondsey Street for the afternoon. It’s one of my most-visited Desana spots, because it’s an easy journey from Catford to London Bridge, and in one of my favourite parts of London. I have a few meetings, so make good use of the phone booths which always look a bit like padded cells on video calls.
Another perk of the Work.Life chain - free food! On Thursdays they bring out beers and pizza, so I grab a slice to line my stomach ahead of meeting up with some friends nearby after work. This is definitely one of the handiest things about having use of Desana, I can plot my socialising around my workspaces, or my workspaces around my socialising.
I don’t work at tiney on Fridays, so I have a day at home on other projects (yes, partly laundry), but when I do sneak onto Slack (I suffer from chronic FOMO), I find that Jo from Desana has announced to the tiney team that, by popular demand, Market in Peckham is now on the app! Faster than you can say “Am I actually cool enough for Peckham these days though?”, a few of us south east London types have booked ourselves in for a future day of coworking. Hooray, another busy week of rinsing our Desana credits beckons...