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Wanna learn from the best? Join the Open Office Hours at Stone Soup

In a recent post we touched upon the opportunities derived from the reversed brain drain, a very exciting process to witness happening in Greece the past year. Everyday we feel inspired by the people based at our coworking space and the example they set: fellow coworkers who are traveling around the world carrying with them their social and personal skills, transferring knowledge, and enriching the local markets they engage with.

We are happy to share the latest news from our community and the background of our highly skilled coworking members. We are also thrilled to announce our new venture that is designed to contribute to this positive change.

Open Office Hours

Open Office Hours are one-on-one sessions with experts in different fields. The sessions will take place at Stone Soup and they will be open to all, and fees won’t be charged. Their objective is to share the knowledge beyond our walls and to strengthen the Athens Digital Creative ecosystem.

Wanna learn from the best? Let’s cut to the chase, and introduce George Carey-Simos, a Stone Soup resident, and the first expert you are invited to visit during Open Office Hours.

George is a Digital Strategist and helps people and companies use the Internet to their  advantage. Born in South Africa and having spent most of his life in different countries; South Africa, Czech Republic, UK, and Greece, he eventually decided to anchor his life in Greece for good.

He has a solid 15 years of working experience gained from numerous positions in different industries and countries. He started his career in Sales and moved into more traditional Media & Communications and PR work – and worked in the field for several years. Then in 2013, he switched to a small digital agency, running various digital projects for SMBs and large multinational brands, also advising clients on social media and digital strategy as a whole. His passion to explore the cutting edge developments in the digital sphere, also led him to co-found WeRSM | We are Social Media at around the same time. It didn’t take long for WeRSM to be recognized for the value it provides to digital marketers of all kinds – and agencies – by keeping them up to date on the latest news, practices, and trends. WeRSM very soon became international.

For the past 4 years, George splits his time between WeRSM and working as a freelancer for his clients. His multidimensional experience gives him the advantage to provide holistic consultancy, project management, and custom training for his clients. He is well-connected, and has a broad network to tap into when he needs to recruit and orchestrate any project.

Apart from his freelance projects, he also runs custom training sessions in digital strategy, social media strategy, and growth hacking. His growth hacking course is taught as part of a series of seminars organized by KnowCrunch at Deree college. Finally, he is also a startup advisor, mentor at Founder Institute, a regular judge at social media awards and startup events, and a speaker at international conferences.

Book your slot!

Whether your business is up and running or you are just starting out, the sessions with George could give you valuable insights on your digital strategy, your resource and team management, but could also help you refine your pitch and develop your USP.

We will announce George’s availability and time slots next week.

Stay tuned!

 

#5 tips you need to know to start working remotely

The way of working is rapidly changing as a new professional culture is emerging, one that is swaying away from the traditional ways of doing business. This culture is evident in startups but is also gaining ground in more traditional companies throughout the world that are adapting to this reality.

The new era is bringing modern aspects to the workplace, and one of those is the concept of the remote worker, a professional who does not need a single workspace and is able to travel by bringing their work to any part of the world. But working remotely is not as simple as it sounds, it takes some skills and habits that most people don’t have and you can only master by trying and trying again. When you are juggling with work and traveling, if your don’t do it right you can ruin both experiences.

If your are aware of the possible risks and you are one of those who wishes to experiment with freedom while working, this list is for you! We present to you 5 tips to help you become someone who doesn’t need a permanent workspace.

#1 Find a workspace

It may be tempting to work from home or trying to bring your laptop to the beach or to the mountains to work, but for the sake of your productivity, you have to ultimately find a place that would minimize your distractions and that would help you do better in your work.

Most people think about working in the comfort of their home, coding, designing or writing in their underwear while laying in bed or the sofa. This might work for a few, but using your home as your workspace might mean that you don’t feel comfortable enough neither as a home or workspace, and being isolated or even start to feel lonely might affect your productivity in the long run, and even your mental state.

That’s why most of the remote workers recommend that you find a neutral place, that isn’t either your house or your office, some of them recommend to work on cafes, where you have food and good coffee, which is pretty useful if you find a cafe that suits your needs, and also, make it easier for you to travel and work in other places. The only drawback about working in cafes is the noise, especially if you need to present your work or make an important phone call and sometimes, the Internet connection is not on your side either.

To address that need, there are many coworking spaces that you may find in almost any city and they offer a professional setup to accommodate your needs while you work. At the same time, a shared working space offers great opportunities for meeting different people and business networking, that’s why such places are filled with remote workers and digital nomads all around the world.

#2 Plan and prepare

This might sound obvious but it’s always good to remember how important is planning yourself before starting working out of the office. You won’t have anybody to remind you what you have to do and when you have to do it. This freedom is great but you have to learn how to control and manage effectively your time and how to use your freedom in your favor.

To build your own work schedule and to work whenever you want is great and probably the quality of your work might be even greater because you mind and inspiration will be at your own time, but it is easy to lose focus and to procrastinate when you are not in your everyday office and routine.For that reason, building a schedule and organizing your tasks is a great thing to do and will help a lot with your productivity.

There are a lot of tools on the web to help with your task management and your organization, like Trello, that you can use on your computer and your phone and help you to organize your tasks and remind you when the deadlines are coming, Evernote, that is useful to keep your notes and to remember your tasks, and if you prefer analog methods, the Bullet Journal will help you organize our day to day tasks and do things efficiently.

#3 Improve your communication

Nat Turner once said that “Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity”, and his words are very meaningful when you think about working remotely. If you do not meet with your coworkers or with your clients at a physical office space, you need to make the communication between you clear and effective or you won’t be able to collaborate successfully and deliver your goals..

Most communication may be achieved with on-line appointments and frequent calls or emails, but your time and your colleagues’ or clients’ time is precious, so, take extra care in making your points clear and make sure that at all times you understand and balance expectations on both sides. This will make easier to approach them after the meetings.

#4 Know exactly what you do and how much it costs

Pricing is a common hurdle that most remote workers face, especially when they are starting off. Once you don’t work in a specific place, it is hard to measure how much time a day you are working, and normally, people forget to count the time that they are spending searching for clients or having meetings, even though this is an important part of their work.

To runaway for that mistake, the best thing to do is to know exactly what you can offer, to define the services you provide and how much they cost on the market you specialize. Then you price fairly, and when you do that, you keep in mind that you need to be able to compensate for all the hours that you spend looking for your clients and all the extra things that you have to take care to keep your business running. We know, this is not what you are meant to do or your profession but hey, being self employed comes with a toll.

#5 Make contacts and meet people

Being independent is great, working for yourself is amazing, but you need to meet people and make contacts to work remotely, because you work for people and with people, and networking will help you to get through the hard times that you might find in this adventure that is working remotely.

Exploring the places that you visit, and talking to people you meet is a difficult task, but it gets easier the more you practice it, and it will be a rewarding experience for you, try to connect with the people that you speak, ask their opinion and bring out yours too, if you know someone that could be useful for other people that you have met, bring them together, they will feel grateful to you, and they will be happy to help you when you need.

There are a lot of networking events happening all the time and you can use Meetup to find about it, most of the people in this kind of events are looking forward to the same things that you are, and they will be happy to talk to you, so be open to that.

To that end, coworking spaces make serendipity interactions smoother, because you will find yourself amidst a lot of people working and you can improve your networking all the time. As simple as it is,  it’s important to get out of the house and meet people, and this spaces are built for that.

If you are working remotely or want to try it out, and you are interested in keeping up with new business trends, follow Stone Soup on Facebook and come to visit our coworking space, we could be exactly what you’re looking for!

 

The expat experience: How can you stay happy in the here and now?

A new start may be full of new experiences but may also be stressful and affect our psychology. How could we overcome our negative feelings and open ourselves to every new encounter that awaits for us?

Electra Matsangou is a psychotherapist and psychologist from Greece. She grew up in Volos and then moved to Thessaloniki to study psychology. Thanks to the Erasmus exchange program, she first went to the Netherlands in 2008  and completely fell in love with the country and people. In 2010, she moved to the Netherlands to get her Master’s degree in Health Psychology. After completing her MSC, she started training in Gestalt Psychotherapy.

Living in a different country for six years had Electra facing the challenges that most expatriates have to go through, as well as all thoughts and feelings that are common amongst people that live in a new environment. “The Gestalts of an Expat” was an article she wrote while living abroad, for the Dutch e-journal “e-awareness”. She was an expatriate herself, so she knows that sometimes it can be really hard to adjust in a new country, being away from your family and trying to adapt to a foreign work environment.

Her passion about understanding one’s emotional state and working with people, plus the first-hand knowledge of the life of an expatriate made her want to work with internationals who live in Athens.

“I know sometimes it can be difficult to talk to a Greek therapist. Besides, the cultural differences and the language barrier, perhaps it is uncomfortable because you might want to complain about Greece or Greeks!”.

However, having this experience herself and talking about it with her patients made things easier and much more comfortable.

Greece, a multicultural destination

After 6 years in the Netherlands, Electra decided to reunite with her family and start her life again in Athens, Greece. She was also longing to come back to the Greek nature, the islands and the beautiful mountains that make her home country a place of many colors and shapes.

Electra has opened her new office in a coworking space and her aspiration was to consult and support international people that have decided to start their life in Greece. The coworking environment is what she was looking for, as being in touch with so many different people with diverse backgrounds and cultures is very refreshing.

“I like meeting people coming from different countries; it can be quite challenging, as people’s behavior and personalities are influenced by their cultural context, so it takes some effort to familiarize oneself with these contexts. But I personally find it to be a very beautiful and enriching experience. Having my office in a shared environment gives me the opportunity to spend some of my time between sessions with lots of multinational people and talk about politics, philosophy, or just personal stuff. That  boosts my energy and spirit in a whole different level.”

As a psychotherapist, Electra emphasizes the importance of surrounding ourselves with an environment that makes us happy. Athens is a city of  great vibes which can come alive day and night, making it absolutely a place to feel welcome! She also highlights the significance of making conscious choices in the here and now.

“Every choice we make doesn’t need to be always right for us or permanent. We need to revisit our choices in order to see if we still stand by them. Many times as expats we can have mixed or even contradictory feelings and thoughts regarding our experiences or the decisions we need to make and that can be distressful. In those cases, it can be very helpful to reach out to a specialist. Through counseling you can clear things up and get the support you deserve. You don’t have to do this alone!”

We would like to thank Electra for our beautiful chat, you can go ahead and check Electra’s coming workshop and further work on her website.

Social Economy for Social Empowerment

Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) is a relatively new concept of the social economy with an impact on the way of production. In comparison to existing market practices, the SSE paradigm is about starting and growing a business in which all economic activities of production, distribution and consumption are organized horizontally and managed democratically. SSE has the ability to take the best practices that exist in our present system (such as efficiency, use of technology and knowledge) and transform them to serve the welfare of the community based on different values and goals.

Following this idea, many initiatives are starting to adopt the concept in their way of working, and becoming part of this growing community, and, to help on the implementation of it, some platforms were created to help us achieve SSE, one of them is our resident Dock.

The idea behind Dock

The Dock initiative was formed in 2017, inspired by the idea of creating business that have principles of democratic governance and sustainable methods of production. Dock is a platform that was founded to help such initiatives. They focus on supporting the people, enhancing the SSE concepts and on strengthening the initiatives and the overall social economy ecosystem.

 

How it works

Dock is currently connecting and consulting SSE initiatives providing 3 different operations which are: 1. the infopoint, 2. the helpdesk and 3. the forum.

Infopoint, is a free of charge consulting area for getting information and answering questions in SSE matters, while Helpdesk, involves supporting SSE actors at any stage of development, from the initial idea and team formation to initiatives and entities that are already economically developed. Finally, Forum works as a cooperative network linking those actors by sharing a common ground.

They have presence in the European SSE community and collaborate with other initiatives to increase the visibility of the SSE movement. To that end, they also organize events and participate in delegations and interventions like in the organizational team of UniverSSE 2017. They currently participate in the Αttica’s SSE entities Union. At European level, they are members of the pan-European Ripess EU network.

SSE in Greece

In Greece, SSE initiatives are in an early stage, however, the successful launch of such paradigms is becoming a political priority, acknowledging that SSE has the power to mobilize economic and social forces in a cooperative way in order to relaunch the productive model of the country in a more fair and democratic way.

Dock has successfully initiated the “Fruit of Solidarity” campaigns. They provide a networking and collaboration platform between Greek agricultural producers and international stakeholders. “Greenland” action for instance, is a Social Cooperative Enterprise, helping olive oil producers in Kalamata to embrace fair trade practices and expand to international markets. The organisation succeeded in exporting all of their products (more than 20 tones of olive oil and almost 10 tones of olives) in Sweden, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands and Japan in 2017. The importance of this was major if you consider that the producers sold their goods without an intermediate and bargained their own prices, ending up enjoying 60% of the profits which is 20% higher than the one they would have if they were participating in traditional business.

The field has potentials to evolve through the years of 2020 and 2021, giving a new perspective of business and production that values human capital before economic capital and builds a sustainable and socially fair environment.

If your are interest in knowing more about SSE and other business trends, keep it up with Stone Soup Facebook page.