Members’ Spotlight #3: Kay Morgan
A co-working space needs people willing to work in the same place as each other, but for Kindred, and its grand plan of building a real, connected community, it dreamed of attracting one or two people a bit different. Someone willing to get involved, to try new things and to *whisper it quietly* actually dare to talk to other people.
In Kay Morgan, they seem to have found all that and more.
The self-confessed extrovert may now be one of the regulars, working during the day, at events, or even at the bar, but when she arrived Kay was in a very different place. Sat talking to me in The Hall, coffee in hand and our chat being interrupted every few minutes by someone new waving or saying hi to her, it seems odd to imagine her as anything different to the bubbly networker she is now. Kay is open, though, not just about her transformation in her time at Kindred but also about what got her here in the first place.
“To be honest, my kid’s school is behind the church.. so my main thing was ‘this is really close to school!” she explains about what first brought her through the doors. As a ‘virtual PA’ Kay had previously found herself working from home, most often only interacting with clients over the phone and getting very few, if any, useful professional contributions from her infant son. So when school-age arrived for him, co-working was on the agenda for her and, soon after, an underwhelming three-month stint elsewhere was ended by Kindred’s better geographical offer.
Convenience might have been the main criteria then, but Kay’s Kindred journey has evolved in unexpected ways ever since, and no-one is more surprised than her. Now running a series of productivity sessions, giving tours to newcomers and even hosting an event run by another member (Soli Sessions, a new regular music night), Kay keeps managing to find new ways to contribute and, just as importantly, to get something out of it for herself. “I’d never really considered that being where my skill set lies or that I’d enjoy doing that, but I really have,” she says on her ever-expanding portfolio.
She might not have considered it before, but things have kept changing and kept happening. Part of the change seems to be from going from one place which was, in her words, “not very co-worky. No-one interacted with you, no-one spoke to you” to something a little different. “Putting myself here and feeling so supported and so safe in this space, I then started coming on nights out – which I hadn’t done for a really long time. I do like the fact that in this one space, there are so many different things going on.”
The idea of safety and support being part of the space is an important one and one which Kay partly blames for having got so involved in the community.
“It really struck me that Kindred are doing co-working in its truest sense. To me it doesn’t feel like a marketing ploy, it’s not a catchphrase for their website, it’s not ‘let’s pretend to do this to get people in’. I feel like every single member of staff, from the top down, genuinely care about our individual journeys as freelancers and entrepreneurs.”
For that kind of ‘genuine care’ to exist, and for Kay to be an unashamed advocate of the young business, there has needed to be real contributions from both sides. She describes herself as being “quite prolific in terms of talking about Kindred both internally and externally” so her increasing involvement makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t seem to be based on back-scratching. “I think I’ve been given my opinion to people whether they want it or not” she admits “For me, it has felt like its a new business and it’s growing, but in a way that was quite positive because it just meant that the team are keen on our feedback”.
But is it ever too much? Kay is very much a co-worker in her own right, not a member at the beck and call of regular staff. She tries telling me that, after leaving her background as an executive PA to move to the ‘virtual’ space, she hasn’t found her niche yet. That may well be true, but it’s a little hard to believe when (after some gentle pressure) she proceeds to reel off the things she’s particularly proud of and confident in. Whether it’s accounts management, running the technical side of marketing or creating online course content, Kay’s skills go way beyond being a friendly face, something that the work Kay has done with other members of the community is a testament to.
The sense of having colleagues again is something that stands out, the fact that now instead of an infant son and an occasional client on the phone, she finds her days are spent being energised by being surrounded by and actually connecting with others, whatever their own profession.
“I’m naturally more extroverted, I like being around people. I’m energised by meeting people, talking to people,” she says.
“I think interacting with people, be it new members, staff, existing members, I get so much personally from doing that. Even if that means shutting myself away for a few hours of the day because I’ve got stuff I need to get done, but still carving out time for the buzz, the chat, the connection… that’s really why I come here every day and I think that’s the same for a lot of people. I could sit at home and get loads of work done but actually I think I’m more productive here by working when I need to work and having these interactions.”
While Kindred might have hoped to attract active community members, and Kay had hoped to find a co-working space that she enjoyed being in, there are some things that couldn’t have been predicted.
In explaining her perspective now, Kay references that crucial piece of modern feedback – her Google review.
“Kindred has changed my life both personally and professionally. Now this sounds dramatic (I’m a little bit dramatic by nature) but I wrote that and genuinely meant it.”
Having had a few less enjoyable years, filled with the sort of major life events that inevitably shift perspective, there’s a sense, with opportunities being both created and taken, that Kay Morgan is back on top.
Work is one thing, whether hers or Kindred’s, but in a real community there needs to be so much more. “What’s happened is that I’ve made actual friends” she explains “And I wasn’t expecting that.” For what it’s worth, I don’t think Kindred was expecting Kay either.
This post forms part of a series of behind-the-scenes interviews with members of the Kindred team and community.
Written by Sam Hampson, Kindred member and freelance writer. Contact him on email@example.com
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