Blog: Working from home, the work hub, or the office?

Today is #NationalWorkFromHomeDay. It’s a Work Wise UK initiative “to promote modern ‘smarter’ working practices such as agile, flexible, remote and mobile working, as well as working from home”. They argue that the UK needs to work smarter:

“Changing outdated working practices and implementing a Smarter Working strategy provides a real opportunity for Employers to build and retain skills, to give serious thought to the dilemmas of youth unemployment and an aging population and to then set the road map for real work force transformation, creating benefits for our workplace and society.”

While it might seem counter intuitive for Devon Work Hubs to promote a day for homeworking, their focus on smarter flexible working is closely aligned with our ethos. Devon Work Hubs was developed to offer the people of Devon “an office when needed”. In Devon it is estimated that there are 85,000 home-based workers, many of whom experience the downsides of homeworking as well as the positives.

On this day to celebrate working from home, a lot of people have been sharing a 2010 article by Edward Collier, in which he argues that “It’s time to stop the schlep to work” . He points out that teleworking has never been easier thanks to the increasing availability of fast internet connection from home and the willingness of managers to see homeworking as a solution to tight budgets and limited space. Despite the increasing opportunity for many to work from home, the pitfalls of working exclusively from home remain and are increased if you are self-employed. While getting out of the overcrowded office was the priority of 2010, in 2015 89% of businesses in the South West were micro businesses. These businesses have differnent challenges and a significant proportion of these businesses are based in homes.

Melissa Talago, founder of Campfire Communications, told the Guardian “I felt really frazzled amid the clutter so in a fit of pique I dismantled the spare bed and claimed the guest room as Campfire Communications”. For her the solution to homeworking chaos was to create a space within her home just for working, but many just don’t have that option.

There is an increasing understanding that not only does your space impact your productivity, but that what works best one day might not be what is best the next day. Suzanne Bearne compared different locations to work, trying out a coffee shop, a work hub, a private club, a landmark and her own flat. Each had their own benefits and distractions, and it is clear that she has worked out which spaces are suited to her different styles of working.

So if you love the flexibility of working from home, but yearn for some company, some structure or maybe just faster broadband, the answer could be a flexible hot desk at a Devon Work Hub. All our work hubs offer flexible desks and offices as and when required, and there is no need for a long-term commitment. Find out where your nearest hub is here.


Thanks to @sblandfo for the image!


Blog: How far would you travel for coworking?

One of the best things about using a work hub is the flexibility. This means different things to different people, for some it’s the flexibility to work at a time that suits them, to use the facilities of an office only when needed or to work in an environment that suits their way of working.

The increasing availability of coworking retreats is an example of not only the spread of work hubs globally, but also suggests that the space in which we work in impacts how we work. A coworking retreat offers an immersive experience, and they are often marketed towards start ups.

Startup Basecamp has locations in San Francisco, Montreal and Brussels with more on the way. Here you can combine coworking with coliving, and they boast that you can “Hit the office as soon as you wake up”. Coworking giant WeWork recently opened 45 apartments in the same building as one of their hubs. There is a risk however that in this kind of environments, sleep will take a back seat, James Routeledge argued that ‘”Sleep faster” culture puts  entrepreneurs’ mental health at risk’.

This combination of a working and living space doesn’t seem strange to anyone who has ever worked from home, but the key difference is being surrounded by other workers and other small businesses. Perhaps it is that difference that is leading to significant investments into coliving spaces. The Harvard Business Review argued that people thrive in Coworking spaces because “Working amidst people doing different kinds of work can also make one’s own work identity stronger”.

Capture The works torbayBut is there a way to get the benefits of a coworking retreat without the bed-to-office intensity and without the package deal? I would say absolutely! Devon is a hugely popular destination for tourists, with great travel links and a wide variety of options for accommodation. There are Devon work hubs in a number of beautiful market and coastal towns, with more opening soon. Each hub offers flexible memberships and daily hot-desking, as well as free coffee and wifi. Just look at this view from @theworkstorbay and tell me that’s not inspiring.

Maybe a trip to Devon, and a Devon Work Hub, would make all the difference to your business.

Image credits: Visit Devon and  The Works Torbay

Apply for Work Hub Funding

Thinking of converting idle space into a work hub? Like the idea of bringing new people and energy together? And generate some extra revenue?

Apply for Work Hub Funding

For more information click here.

Applicants must register their intention to bid by noon on Friday 13th May 2016 (by emailing: The deadline for completed applications is noon on Friday 24th June 2016.

New £4m business funding scheme being run by the University of the West of England

Innovation 4 Growth (I4G) is a £4 million grant scheme created with funding from the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund. It is available to support businesses to develop innovative products, processes and services.

If you represent a business that has a presence in the South West of England and you have plans to carry out research and development activity, it is very likely that you will be eligible to apply for an I4G grant. to find out more!

Rural Growth Network launches Community Entrepreneurship Pilot scheme

Richard Branson may have said it first but we agree: “2014 will be a year of many big ideas, because it will be the year of the entrepreneur”

The Rural Growth Network (RGN) will be launching its latest initiative, the ‘RGN Community Entrepreneurship Pilot scheme’, which aims to; encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the wider rural community, establish a programme that promotes entrepreneurship within schools, linking primary, secondary and tertiary phases and encourage a whole community approach to the development of innovative and sustainable businesses.

Taking place in five rural locations (Broadclyst / Clyst Vale Community College, Exmouth / Exmouth Community College, Holsworthy / Holsworthy Community College, Totnes / King Edward VI Community College (KEVICC), and Okehampton / Okehampton Community College), the pilot will include a series of workshops, mentoring sessions, information events, and enterprise challenges, focusing separately on local schools as well as members of the local community.

The pilot, initiated by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HOT SW LEP), and funded through the Rural Growth Network (RGN) and Devon County Council, is being delivered by Devon and Cornwall Business Council, in association with a number of partner organisations: Education Business Partnership SW, Careers SW, Optimise4 and The Fruit Tree for Business.

The launch events are being held to inform key stakeholders about the pilot and the various opportunities to get involved in the fully funded activities running in these colleges and communities. Devon County Council, DCBC and a local entrepreneur will be available to inform and inspire you and there will be an opportunity to network!

If you have any problems at all, please email or phone her mobile on: 07855 538 289

New business support service launched for rural Devon and Someset

6,000 businesses across rural Devon and Somerset are set to benefit from a new business support service, launched today by the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Entitled the Heart of the South West Business Support Service, the package provides a range of options to help businesses grow and develop. This includes face to face business advice from a team of specialist business advisers; an interactive workshop programme; an innovation programme; specialist support for women’s led enterprises; and a voucher based support programme.

The aim is to create a strong programme of support throughout the HotSW area, which will stimulate business innovation, helping to boost the local economy and increase jobs.

Just under £1m is being invested into the business support programme across Devon and Somerset. The service is part of the wider Rural Growth Network for Devon and Somerset, which is being led by the HotSW LEP in partnership with Devon and Somerset County Councils. Funding comes from the Defra sponsored RGN programme as well as Devon County Council , which is providing support for innovation in rural businesses.

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive of the Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Supporting rural businesses is critical to the economy of the Heart of the South West area – this dedicated service is set to make a huge difference by providing a range of tailored business services that are easily accessible.”

The Heart of the South West Business Support service is delivered by Peninsula Enterprise, who has been working with businesses in the South West for over 20 years and has extensive experience of engaging businesses and delivering economic impact through business support.

David Hynd, Head of Rural at Peninsula Enterprise said: “This new service provides the essential advice, knowledge and guidance that rural businesses need to succeed.

“Businesses eligible for the full service will receive an action plan to help them move their business idea forward and put plans into reality, and will be able to access further assistance via a voucher based support programme.”

Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth said: “The overall £2.9m RGN investment is expected to boost the rural economy by £40m by providing the opportunities and infrastructure that rural businesses need to grow – businesses across Devon are set to benefit directly from the range of services that this new support programme will provide, helping this aim to be achieved.”

HotSW is one of just five LEPs selected to deliver a pilot Rural Growth Network, spearheading a national drive to encourage economic growth and enterprise in rural areas.

£2.9m fund was awarded to the Local Enterprise Partnership working in conjunction with Devon and Somerset County Councils. The Rural Growth Network initiative will run until 2015.

To register your interest to receive support through the service, please visit
The website has information about the programme, as well as providing a local, easy to use gateway to other sources of business support.


Notes to Editors:
For more information, contact Emma Parker Reynolds or Liz Waugh at Coast Communications on 01752 847135 / 07944 360631.

Business support
The Heart of the South West Business Support service is a Heart of the South West LEP initiative, part of the wider Rural Growth Network (RGN) programme, funded by Defra, Devon County Council and the Department for Transport. Devon County Council is the managing authority, working in partnership with Somerset County Council. The RGN is investing in new infrastructure and workspace for businesses, alongside the provision of capital grant aid for micro enterprise, and a focussed package of business support through the Heart of the South West Business Support service, and is a key programme to help stimulate growth in the rural economy. Further information on the RGN can be found at: The contract was awarded through a competitive tender, opened in March 2013 – the contract was awarded at the end of June 2013.

Heart of the South West
The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been formed under the leadership of the private sector supported by the local authorities from Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay and the area’s District Councils. It is one of 39 partnerships created since the Government’s Local Growth White Paper published in October 2010. More information about the work of the LEP is available from the website

Rural Growth Networks
The five areas have been chosen to deliver Rural Growth Networks: Wiltshire, Cumbria, Somerset and Devon, Durham and Northumberland, and Warwickshire. In total, Rural Growth Networks are expected to create a total of more than 3,000 jobs and 700 start-up businesses following a £15 million total Government investment.

Devon Work Hubs
Devon County Council is supporting a growing community of flexible workspace across the county, now open
in Tavistock, Totnes, Cullompton, Exeter and Okehampton. Devon work hubs support home-based and mobile workers, small businesses start ups and entrepreneurs by offering professional workspace to use flexibly with fast broadband, meeting rooms, free business advice and great coffee. Further information can be found here:

RGN in Devon and Somerset
To read the earlier announcement about the RGN, please click here: