I am really pleased to have been asked to write a blog post for Work Wise UK, especially for Commute Smart Week, about what Vrumi, the company I founded two years ago, can do to help the age-old home/commute/office/commute/home cycle.
What’s changed in the way we work, in the last five years? Really, the cloud; the ubiquity of all our work being available where we are all the time, not just email. So workplaces are not factories you go to where the tools sit, the only places the work can be done, but rather places of collaboration, of combinations, of thought, of social and collegiate interaction, of creation.
That’s how it should work, right? So why is it that the workplace is so often not the greatest place to have these collaborations, often the hardest place to shake off workgrind thinking, the easiest place to get (deliberately?) bogged down in how things are done and the acts of doing them? The place where some things can’t be said, and often not even thought? Because, in the end, it’s the workplace.
People have off-sites for reasons:
Problem-solving ‘we need to get out of the office and work this one through until it’s sorted’
Strategy ‘let’s have a day working on where we want to get to and how to get there’
Targets ‘let’s have a day a month reviewing what we’ve done and setting targets’
Productivity ‘we’re not getting anything new done here’
Involvement ‘I want everyone to have their say’
Creativity ‘let’s have some blue sky thinking’
Sharing ‘let’s share best practice among people’
Training and coaching
And so on, and so on, we can all think of twenty of these.
So use Commute Smart Week to have these sessions - get together somewhere more convenient, in someone’s sitting room or dining area where you can all get to, not one of your homes, perhaps somewhere unusual or interesting or creative - or just not the office, not your home.
Working from home can be tough - having colleagues in your home can be tougher. What we do at Vrumi is provide space in someone else’s home, usually with WiFi, coffee & tea, a TV with HDMI cable for presentations, and a lovely space.
In the UK there are millions of rooms in people's’ homes sitting empty during the day, and tens of millions of people cross-crossing their weary commuting paths to get to an office. Put these two things together, put groups of people together in a Vrumi space in a home, and see what happens. Commutes will shorten, productivity and creativity will rise, ideas will happen, and all at an extraordinarily affordable cost.
I started Vrumi in 2014 to open up these homes, these spaces, for others to work, meet and create in, spaces far more interesting and fun than generic meeting rooms, and at prices that are far better than any alternative. (They also make a handy income for the household.) At the moment we are mostly in Greater London, with over 700 spaces, but also have many spaces around the country.
Our dream is for people to Vrumi all the time - to make a reality of the long-standing work-from-home mirage, by having hosts providing spaces in their homes for others to use. For the mother to drop the kids at school and then go into a home nearby, work a highly productive day, and collect the kids at the end of the day. For colleagues to converge on somewhere far more convenient than the office twice a week and be productive.
Our dream is to make a reality of the flexibility that modern work and technology, and the cloud, enables. By pairing that with a sharing economy technology platform it becomes possible.