Homeworking and pining for the Hive. One member’s story.
What a strange few weeks. I’m very much used to working from home – as a freelancer you work everywhere from coffee shops to train journeys – and you certainly develop a knack for concentrating during the most disruptive of circumstances. But, this is different. I read a tweet this week that explained we aren’t working from home. We’re living through a global pandemic and trying to work through it. That statement couldn’t be more true.
So, I should probably introduce myself… I’m Rebecca Martin, although most people call me Bex or Becca. I’m a Content Strategist, Brand Consultant and Copywriter. I help brands to drive sales through content, through storytelling and with traffic-driving copy. And I love it. I used to work in fashion and celebrity news for some of the UK’s largest women’s magazines, on the digital side of the business. I managed teams of writers and had the time of my life living in London. Until after a while, I wasn’t. I had a dream of being freelance, living by the sea in Whitstable, a short drive from my family and my baby niece and nephews. That dream of a seaside life became more of a reality when I stumbled across Hive. I was working from home and found that living alone and working alone became monotonous and tough at times. After a trip to The Umbrella Cafe one day for their famous creamy cider mushrooms on toast, I picked up a flyer for the co-working space and the rest is history.
I’ve made friends. I’ve made colleagues. I’ve picked up work – including consulting for Hive itself and both Planet B Social and Kerry Hales. I ran my very first (sold-out!) workshop for local businesses at Hive. And I met co-founders Jo, Caroline and Steve, who have all made me feel so supported in my journey to make Whitstable my place of work. Fast forward almost a year and we’ve all been separated. Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives, they say. So, that’s what we’re doing – but it’s not easy. For those with children, it’s an endless juggle of homeschooling and work, or a painful 4am start to squeeze in a decent stint before the rest of the family wake. For everyone, it’s a mental health challenge – to put it lightly.
I’ve moved in with my parents – their home and village restaurant is closed to the public, so I’ve turned a sunny window table into my make-shift office space – just so I can traipse downstairs to what feels like a place of work. I’m on 8-10 video calls a day, juggling an Acting Head of Copy role for four days a week, have four other clients on retainer, plus three I work for voluntarily as they’re charities or family. I’m fully aware of how lucky I am to be inundated with work – but I’m absolutely terrified to scale back for fear of how things will be in the next few months.
I’ve lived in London, I’ve done the big commute to London. Yet at this point in my life, it’s pushing those four little buttons and opening the door to Hive, to be welcomed with smiles and support – that motivates me the most.
Co-founder Jo once told me that there’s more meaning to their choosing of the brand name Hive than meets the eye. We’re not busy bees, we’re wasps. The cooler, calmer, often overlooked underdogs. (Underwasps? Sorry). When I looked into this more, I read that there are two types of wasps – solitary wasps and social wasps. When a social wasp is upset, it can emit a pheromone to other wasps, signaling them to come and help. That is so true to Hive. When you need a rant and a cup of tea, it’s like your ‘colleagues’ can sense it and help is at hand. It’s a community unlike any workspace I’ve ever known. It’s bustling with so many creative types, people from all walks of life, all industries – and everyone is welcome.
I pray that Hive will still be around when we come out of this. It’s a much-needed community space and SO much more than an office. It’s a sanctuary to so many. A haven. A hub of creativity… of friendships… of support. And I know I’m not alone in missing it greatly. See you on the other side, my fellow wasps…
5 tips for working from home during the pandemic:
- Give yourself a break. No-one has ever worked through something like this, we’re all finding our way. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself.
- Try to build a workspace that you only go to for work. Keep your laptop away from ‘home’ spaces and the sofa, so you have really specific boundaries.
- Take your one exercise break a day and get outside. Fresh air and vitamin D is the tonic you need right now to get through this strange 9-5.
- Understand that you can’t do everything. These are unprecedented circumstances. You’re human, not a robot. The juggle is not sustainable – for anyone.
- Take lunch breaks. It’s so easy to eat where you work. That would be fine at Hive, but you’re not living, eating, sleeping at Hive. Again – think boundaries!