This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 12, 2008

Spreading Jellies

Each week in cities around the world, people are gathering with their laptops to converse informally, work, brainstorm, and support each other. This new type of group connection is called "a Jelly" and thousands are participating from San Paulo to Sydney, from Boston to Beijing. Young people, mostly 20-something entrepreneurs and freelancers or telecommuters, are getting together in groups of 15 to 20 on a weekly or semi-weekly basis.

Jellies are new work forms that are consequences of young people spending so much time working alone at their computers. Sometimes called "casual coworking" or "conjunctured coworking", Jellies are springing up to give these solo workers the sense of community and belonging missing from their occupational lives.

According to Amit Gupta, the 25-year-old Web entrepreneur who founded the first Jelly three years ago in New York City, Jellies got their name from jelly beans. He named his non-traditional coworking opportunity "Jelly" because of the "collaboration and co-creation with people of varied skill sets and backgrounds". In August, Yahoo agreed to sponsor Jellies on a national level because they recognized the Jellies' potential for fostering creativity, However, employers must also be aware of the vulnerabilities: "Don't let the excitement of the Jelly cause your employees to forget that exchanging ideas does not include sharing your trade secrets," said Garry Mathiason, Corporate Compliance practice leader for Littler Mendelson, the largest employment law firm in the world. The other danger is that employees may be tempted by the job offers that are common at Jellies. Turning the tables, some employers may want to consider the recruiting opportunities at Jellies.

A safer alternative for employers: sponsor Jellies for your own telecommuting employees and you buy the refreshments. Your people will enjoy the social interaction (missing from telecommuting) and appreciate your support. Our forecast, Jellies will spread.

What's next? The future is here today in Austin and Houston, Texas, where groups of mobile and independent workers have taken the Jelly concept a step farther. They have established spaces to provide quiet, non-residential areas where they can work together and share their creativity and love of technology.

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