The Tribe Work Hub in Totnes has provided freelance photographer and writer Claire Gillo with vital contacts for her business, but she says the community and friendship she has found there is equally important.
Claire gained a vast amount of experience from her career in publishing, taking photos and writing articles for photography magazines.
On returning to her native Devon four years ago, she took the decision to set up her own business but after a while found a downside to freelancing.
“I was finding working from home a bit repetitive and a bit lonely at times,” admits Claire.
“I’m a very social person, I like chatting to people, so when I heard of The Tribe I thought that would be a good place to write my articles, and it would help me get out of the house and meet other people.
I didn’t expect to find so many people with such amazing businesses. It’s really inspiring to meet people who are doing lots of different things, from designers to writers, and you’re able to draw upon their skills and expertise.
My business relies on meeting people who need help with their branding for their business, so the more networking I do the better.
But The Tribe isn’t just about making business connections. Some of the people I’ve met here have become friends, so it’s good for my mental wellbeing as well.”
While there are many positive aspects to working from home, concerns over mental wellbeing and loneliness among remote workers have been reported by studies including that of the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).
It’s a point not lost on Stacey Sheppard, the Founder of The Tribe coworking space, as she had been working from home herself for a couple of years before setting up the Work Hub in 2020.
Stacey recalls: “I realised how isolating and lonely it can be to work from home all of the time, and I spoke to other women in the area who were feeling the same.
When I decided to set up the Work Hub a large part of what I wanted to do was to create a network for all those women who were at home working alone.
It’s absolutely amazing having someone like Claire as part of our community because photography is such an important part of running a business and I don’t think most people realise that. It’s vital for things like your marketing, PR opportunities, your website – there are so many things you need good photography for.
Anytime someone needs photographs I can signpost them to Claire as the perfect person to help them and having that trusted connection that has proven themselves time and time again with other members of the community is really valuable for all of us.”
Claire feels she has benefited from being part of community at The Tribe and her advice to anyone who may be looking to use a Work Hub as part of flexible working is simple:
“If you’re looking to go to a coworking space, definitely do it. It can really open doors for you.
Once I’ve done a photoshoot for somebody it’s easier to get another one, but establishing those connections is crucial.
The more networking I can do the better for my business. That’s why coworking spaces are so important and coming here has definitely been key to my success as a photographer.
Once you’re here you’ll realise everyone is actually in the same boat as you are, and when you start talking to people it just opens up your network and your world and it can really help your business.
Week to week my business is very different and that’s the great thing about The Tribe. I can pick and choose when I want or need to come and having that flexibility really works well for me. You’re representing your business which gives you that professional edge, and it’s a nice place to be as well.”
Stacey adds: “Coworking has had a very difficult period in recent years, so joining a network of Work Hubs is really valuable because we’re all going through the same thing at the moment. We all face the same challenges, so being able to exchange knowledge and experience with other Work Hub owners in Devon can only help all of us.”
"A fabulously stylish space which smacks of contemporary creative muses, coupled with all the comforts an office should have - coffee, tea, fridge, WiFi and a working printer. Its a warm, light space in a delightful part of the village with plenty of space in the car parks and very easy to travel to."