new normal

  • The Next Normal – Do We Just Get On With It?

    How is ‘the next normal’ looking for you? 

    As the lockdown rules change in the UK, how do you feel about the next few months? 

    Are you stuck? 

    What have you changed in your business model?

    Are you sick of video calls yet? 

    This week I want to share about how three months of COVID lockdown is working out for me. 

    It feels like an ongoing mix of triumphs and confusion, sitting down to write this to you got me in super reflective mood. 

    But I’m worried about something.

    It does worry me how this will land with you, which makes me more than a little concerned about the order of the words I type.

    The COVID crisis is working out in so many different ways for people, so if you’re in a tough time, I’m sorry if any of this seems futile. 

    My positive business friends share phases like ‘never waste a good crisis’ and are looking for ways to support each other. 

    Others are having to shut down because they can’t keep going. 

    How tough is tough?

    I’ve been on many calls where people share with me how they’ve shut their coworking space or lost their job.

    Others are in a central London flat homeschooling three kids with both parents working at home and getting cabin fever.

    It would be crap for me to say I understand how it is for everyone.

    And you’d know right away that I’m making that up, but it at least gives me access to another perspective. 

    My COVID experience has been hearing my wife’s day at work on one side and my coworking world on the other side.

    Why is clapping the NHS not a good thing?

    Because it undermines the poor working conditions, underfunding and low pay experienced by NHS workers. 

    As many of you know, my wife is a family therapist who works in mental health.

    You can watch this video of the ward where she works in Newham, London. 

    Her team are getting more young people admitted than ever before. 

    Meanwhile, everyone is out clapping, bashing pans and cheering on the NHS under the illusion we’re saluting the England football team in their darkest hour. 

    The reality is we’re cheering NHS people for doing a high-risk job for crap pay and are in denial about how their day is. 

    And a lot of people clapping (maybe even you) are furloughed on 80% pay, going to the beach or getting pissed in Soho.

    To be clear about the clapping thing

    This article here describes how we feel in our home – click here to read – I’m an NHS doctor – and I’ve had enough of people clapping for me.

    We’re sure that when you clap the NHS, it is with the best intention. 

    I’m not bitching about my wife’s pay packet, she is highly qualified, and her salary reflects this. 

    Confused and stuck

    What motivated me to write this is to share the confusion I had at setting 12 Week goals, even though my projects are more focused than ever. 

    But next to NHS workers and people losing their jobs, businesses and struggling with family loss and mental health, well I felt like I’m whining. 

    I spent a week walking around our home, forgetting what I was doing, having to read my task list three times in the morning before I got going. 

    The COVID lockdown and cabin fever was starting to hit me. 

    Just get on with it.

    I’ve read Viktor Frankl Man’s ‘Search for Meaning‘ and David Goggins Can’t Hurt Me, and both books have had a robust humanising effect on me.

    Both books are people in extreme mental and physical situations, who find a way to make it, against all the odds. 

    Last year I read the David Goggins book six times in four months when my Dad was ill and then died, on his 84th birthday!

    Goggins helped me connect with my Dad’s death and experience grief rather than drama. 

    Of course, you probably know the drama is often my preference, that is how good the Goggins book is. 

    Purple haze and becoming unstuck

    For two weeks, I’ve been in some haze, haemorrhaging energy and burning calories in my brain trying to work out my goals. 

    It was a real issue, that is why I’m writing about it here. 

    My three projects are: 

    Cowork Tools

    London Coworking Assembly 

    my site 

    I know where the revenue is coming from and what I’ve got to do to get there. 

    Why is it so hard to write down a goal for each of these?

    So that is what is up!

    At the end of last week, it clicked where I’m stuck.

    I was stuck because I don’t know what is going to happen.

    Work and projects have a map, but I don’t know what is going to happen in the world

    Of course, we never know what is going to happen, but now there is worldwide agreement ANYTHING could happen!

    I mean we have a global pandemic, and the horror of colonialism, institutional racism and routine police brutality are a mainstream conversation – who thought that would ever happen?


    How July – December usually happen

    July is the start of summer, and this year everything is on hold. 

    We go to our family in Vigo, Spain in August. 

    I have a birthday, and we come back then something happens.

    School starts; something else happens. 

    We do European Freelancers Week

    I go to Coworking Europe and another Coworking retreat.

    Then it is Christmas, so a trip to Poland, Argentina or Vigo to see family. 

    But right now we’re staying home for the rest of 2020.

    Now I know how to keep going.

    Back when I was super depressed, I went to therapy every Tuesday afternoon in Stratford.  

    About a year before we ended, I had a moment of realisation in my therapy session.

    I was not depressed any more, but I did not know what else to do. 

    My story, identity and even habit was ‘I’m depressed’ it was my narrative and operating system. 

    The moment occurred for me like when Neo stands up in the Matrix. 

    You know the part, Agent Smith shoots Neo like ten times, Neo dies, and Trinity kisses him. 

    Neo then stands up, becomes present to his ability and stops the next round of bullets with his hand. 

    The luxury of grief 

    I was due to end therapy, and we had a winding down period, and then my Dad died, so we carried on for a few more months. 

    Whenever I think back to last year, I wonder what would have happened to me if I did not have the luxury of the support and relationship of my therapist. 

    That therapy was about grief and making sense of the future, not depression, self-loathing. 

    We ended in January 2020, two weeks later, I went to Nashville to do the StoryBrand Guide training and hang out with my friends Maria and William. 

    Maria’s son was my mate Matija, the co-founder of European Freelancers Week; he died of cancer aged 34 in 2018 while we were working on Freelancers Week. 

    Matias is the guy sitting at the table in the header of all my social media profiles – he is still is a big deal for us. 

    That’s all for this post – stay safe and be excellent to each other. 

  • How to Find ‘The Next Normal’ For Coworking.

    The Next Normal

    Have you been saying words like ‘when things go back to normal I will..?‘

    In this McKinsey article ‘Beyond coronavirus: The Path to the next normal‘ the use of the term ‘the next normal and how I see the future.

    And this is what I’m scrambling to find out at the moment. 

    I’m interviewing, podcasting, facilitating and reading non-stop about what is going to happen in the coworking industry. 

    I’d love to be the person who comes up with THE answer, but it does not work like that. 

    Coworking is a full-contact team game, and even with social distancing, we’re closer every day. 

    People are craving community more than ever.

    The need for connection is even stronger, and amid the horror and uncertainty, I adore how we’ve come together. 

    Where were you when you heard about CoVID19?

    The first time I heard about coronavirus was when I was lying in a hotel bed in Porto at the very beginning of January 2020. 

    We’d spent Christmas with our family in Vigo, Spain and had stopped off in Porto on the way home for a couple of nights.

    The only TV channel in English was BBC World, and they were showing pictures of a town called Wuhan.

    The reporter talked about some outbreak thing, but I did not quite get it or pay attention. 

    I was basking in the glory of all the Galician food I’d eaten in Vigo and things like that never happen in London. 

    A few months later and I’m packing my essential gear into the boot of my mate Jan’s car and fleeing our coworking space to set up shop at home. 

    That week we had a daily call with the London Coworking Assembly, each call had a strong air of what the “£u

    Does anyone know? 

    The current normal 

    The community element kicked right away in our London Coworking Assembly world.

    If you’ve been reading here for a few years, you’ll know what I mean when I say the Assembly #TAGtribe for coworking space operators. 

    Others across the UK got invited to our calls. 

    We connected with start-up and business groups, and self-organised into “save our local coworking“. 

    Which is going from strength to strength and out of this is growing the UK Coworking Assembly. 

    If you are an operator or know a coworking space send them to

    Working together every week, at Tuesdays we have a catch-up call to share about save our local coworking.

    Then on Thursdays, we have a call about marketing and comms – how to communicate our spaces in the crisis and how to be ready to open. 

    This community spirit is all over Europe too. 

    Every week we run a group call with Nexudus, Cobot and OfficeRnD to call to design support and help people reboot their coworking business. 


    Everything for everyone.

    The mighty Zeljko and I are podcasting like crazy over at the European Coworking Assembly


    Recent episodes


    Ed Goodman from Freelance Heroes on self-employed people and COVID in the UK – listen here.

    Shazia from Third Door and David from Maple Works in London who are leading the charge on – listen here.

    Alex from Indy Hall on How to close your space in the COVID19 Pandemic – listen here.

    Jo and Hector founder of the Coworking Libray who set up the Crisis Directory – listen here.

    Stavros and Maria from The Cube in Athens who hosted a virtual Hackathon for Co-vid solutions – listen here.

    This week we are recording with Laëtitia on the new normal. (Laëtitia writes one of THE best newsletters of the future of work) and Miryana, who is a researcher and works for OfficeRnD. 

    Last week Pauline co-founder of Coworkies joined our webinar and shared with Zeljko how coworking spaces are surviving the COVID19 Pandemic. Watch for the replay here.


    The next normal for Meet Up 

    We’ve gathered all the Meet Up‘s I’ve had a hand in running into one group under the London Coworking Assembly. 

    There are 1000’s of London based people in these groups that have met up in coworking spaces since 2010. 

    We’ve held back on online events because the airwaves were overrun. 

    Next, we’ll survey these people to see what will serve them best. 

    There is a fantastic chance to build a strong sense of community, the ‘the next normal’ happens. 

    Then we can get back to meeting offline in coworking spaces again.


    Next up – The Coworking Symposium


    Our biggest project right now is Coworking Symposium an online conference where the coworking Industry meets academia, again.

    I’m working on the content with the 10 speakers to design their talks. 

    Which is a blast because I get to deep dive into topics with super-smart people. 

    Right now in the world, these topics are even more on the pulse. 

    We are all working towards working out our lives, work and communities. 

    And while we have deep uncertainty right now, we’ll be stronger than ever on the other side, in the next normal. 

    Hit reply and let me know what you are reading about the next normal.