It all started back with an introduction during a local game of touch rugby and a follow-up coffee and chat at Hartley Farm in July 2021.
Tom was talking about his barn renovation which would help to diversify their business, which was starting in December 2021, and Paul was discussing his ambitions to bring lifework communities to a location near Bath. Sharing the same views on the need to shift behaviours to improve environmental impact, the value of the community and the desire to diversify away from business as usual, the conversation about their separate ambitions found common ground.
So back to the refurbishment. The main barn which housed the café was to be completely stripped back to its bare minimum, and built again reusing most of the same materials, and some others that were sourced locally. It was to become a restaurant and café, serving the home grown produce and the best coffee in Bath. But the other half of the barn was still to be filled. Tom was still deciding about what would sit best at the end of the barn, and the lifework communities story came along at just the right time.
Meanwhile, we were looking for a partner and a first location for lifework and we knew of the importance of finding an organisation who shared our values. We know remote working offers a huge opportunity for the local community to get to know more about the people and the skills it holds within it and start activating them as a force for good. And Hartley Farm seemed like that perfect place, a match for our values and whose community is so important to it.
And so a few conversations and months later, it was decided that there was no better space for the first lifework communities, and no better alternative for Hartley Farm’s newly refurbished but vacant barn. The partnership was finalised in December and contract negotiations began in January 2022.
We are currently at the stage of designing the interiors of the barn. Working out how we can divide the space up into different zones and make it ready to host a range of different working styles and working days. We are also working on the app, which will house bookings and operational management, to create a smooth customer experience from the minute people sign up to the minute they enter the barn. I'm sure it won't all be a smooth ride and there are bound to be glitches along the way but we will be doing our best to keep them to a minimum and can't wait to welcome you into your 'home for your community at work'.
Along the way, we have been lucky enough to gather a great team around us (see our story), as well as work with a fantastic team at Hartley Farm. There is a lot of excitement to bring lifework communities to Hartley Farm in September 2022. We look forward to sharing more about the development of the space as we get closer to our opening date so watch this space.