Lockdown actually helped WorkClub founder Nick Donnelly achieve a better balance as a self employed working dad
Lockdown was hard for Nick Donnelly just like the rest of us. But it’s had its upsides.
Going into lockdown he was juggling working long hours setting up his new business, WorkClub, with life as a new dad. Baby Scarlett was just six months old.
Now WorkClub is well placed to capitalise on the post-lockdown appetite for flexible working spaces. But the enforced break means he’s got a bit more perspective. He understands better what hands on parenting involves and he’s taking his role as a working dad more seriously than ever.
He said, “We were just running with the idea for WorkClub when Scarlett came along. I was out every day raising funding, building the team. The product was ready to go on March 20th, then Covid hit. But it was kind of lucky. It allowed me to spend those months with my daughter.”
He recognises the benefits that brought for his relationship with Scarlett. He said, “I’m more conscious of the time I have with Scarlett. I’m a more confident dad because I’ve spent that time with her this year and the bond we have is so much stronger.
“And all of that has made me more confident in life and determined to work harder for her, but not at the expense of time with her.”
And there’s a growing body of evidence that he’s not alone. Many dads spent more time at home and around their family in lockdown than they had since becoming a father. Months of lockdown blows away a fortnight of paternity leave.
And many dads report that they enjoyed the experience and won’t be going back to fixed hours in an office, topped and tailed with a joyless commute.
Added Nick, “People don’t want to commit just now. With WorkClub you only pay for what you use. Men in particular love the idea of getting out of the house to an office, mixing with other people, the creativity that comes with that. But they hate the commute. We can make the commute enjoyable if it’s just a short walk to a work space that could even be in a hotel or a pub.”
WorkClub offers a range of work place options. From pay as you go stints in shared workspaces to more imaginative spots. “We’ve a range of spaces ” explained Nick. “From shared work spaces to pubs that have converted their first floor into a work space or hotels that have extra space just now. We can find a space to suit everyone!”
The idea came to Nick after he was in an accident with a bike and forced to stay at home while he recovered. Being confined to one place affected his mental health. And he reckons others will feel the same now. While there are clear benefits to working from home it’s also helpful sometimes to have the option to go somewhere else either for peace and quiet, to get your brain whirring on the walk to another location or just for the change of scene.
“I love being around Scarlett. But she’s nearly one, she needs a lot of attention. I need to be able to get out of the house to get some work done. But by working somewhere just 10 minutes away I can actually focus more because I know that if my wife Tori needs me I can be home in minutes.”
And Nick goes further. WorkClub is a team effort between him and Tori. If they have a team meeting then Scarlett comes too. “She’s regularly here with me,” he laughs, “she’s part of the team!”