News & Updates

🦠 Like the rest of Philly, our coworking space is temporarily closed due to COVID19.
Read more, and stay safe out there: https://indyhall.org/covid19

News & Updates

Dear Philly Freelance Community

Hi there. Alex here, cofounder of Indy Hall.

First and foremost, I truly hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and getting by, considering the circumstances. ❤️

Even with our relative health and and sanity intact, nearly all of the freelancers, consultants, and small business owners I know are coping with a unique set of uncertainties right now.

So I wanted to write a little something to provide a little bit of relief and solidarity specifically for freelancers in our region.

Here are THREE positive, supportive updates just for you:

  1. FREE office hours and workshops for Freelancers starting next week, you just have to RSVP.
  2. Tips for accessing government relief for small businesses and self-employed people (and more to come).
  3. A peek ahead into what we’re planning for the Philly Freelance community.

Sound good? Let’s get started:

1. FREE Office Hours and Workshops during April – starting next week! RSVP below.

When you are your own business, investing in and taking care of yourself IS investing in and taking care of your business.

So whether your work has stopped, slowed, or is the same but way more stressful, we decided to help by finding experts to help us make those self and business improvements during a free series of workshops and office hours.

While we lock in dates with the rest of our experts, we wanted to invite you to the very first session taking place NEXT Tuesday, April 7th.

Our first workshop, focused on mindfulness, will be led by Dr. Hava Rose and her organization, The Write Echo. This unique take on mindfulness will combine writing and meditation to help you find calm and focus.

It’s totally free, but you DO need to RSVP at this link:

✌️ RSVP to Mindfulness for Freelancers with Dr. Hava Rose”

Note: this new RSVP system does require a one-time registration, but hopefully will make it easier for us to keep you up to date on events and opportunities going forward. And it just takes 15 seconds to sign up!

2. Are you confused about how the COVID government relief packages will apply for freelancers?

Yeah, me too.

Seems everyone is confused about what’s included for self-employed people, and even more, how we’re supposed to apply. It’s a big moving target, and every day the communication seems to change.

💰 One thing you CAN do is fill out this application and check the box for the $10,000 loan near the end: https://covid19relief.sba.gov

The bad news is that filling out this form is not a guarantee of anything.

The good news is that it is fast and fairly painless to fill out (less than 5 minutes) and unlike other applications that can take hours to complete, you won’t need to go digging for paperwork (at least not yet!).

The only info you’ll need that you probably don’t have memorized are two numbers:

  • previous 12 months of revenue
  • previous 12 months cost of goods sold

At this point it doesn’t ask for any additional files or paperwork, and in theory, every business that applies is automatically eligible for a $10,000 “fully forgiven loan” (aka a grant).

Just check this box on the homepage and start the application:

I am working with regional experts specific to Pennsylvania for more information and HOPEFULLY will be able to organize some kind of focused information session/Q&A specifically for self-employed people in PA/Philly. As soon as something like that is confirmed, I’ll send another email.

3. What’s next for the Philly Freelance community?

While the future of many things are uncertain, the reality is that freelancing isn’t going away anytime soon and for many people, it will become the next best option to employment.

So our original goals with the Philly Freelance fest are still relevant, maybe even more than before! The shape of how we do it might just be a bit different.

So before I sign off from this email, a quick peak into what’s next for our community:

🎉 THE FEST WILL RETURN
The Freelance Fest WILL return in the future, once it’s 100% safe to organize in-person gatherings again.

🌍 MORE ONLINE EVENTS
In the mean time, we are focusing our energy into online resources (like the office hours and events mentioned above in #2).

📍 NEW WEBSITE
We’ve relaunched the PhillyFreelance.com website! It’s still limited on information but will be expanding in the coming weeks.

Note: you don’t need to sign up for the VIP list, you’re already on it 🙂 But if you know other people who want to stay in the loop, please share and encourage them to join!

🖇 MORE FREELANCER AND CLIENT CONNECTIONS
In addition to online events, we’re designing an “opportunity switchboard” to help companies seeking freelancers find people with the skills they need, and to help/encourage freelancers to collaborate in going after bigger contracts together.

✊ SMALL GROUP AND INDIVIDUAL COACHING
Lots of people expressed interest in ways to set and achieve goals, so we’re introducing ways to get the accountability and support you want and need to achieve your personal and business goals.

🆕 FREELANCER BOOTCAMP
Need a crash course in business fundamentals designed with a creative freelancer in mind? THIS SUMMER we will launch the very first Freelancer Bootcamp, a multi-week program to infuse your freelance business with the business savvy you need to get better clients, keep them longer, work fewer hours, and make more money.

🎲 🍸 🎤 PHILLY FREELANCE SOCIAL EVENTS
We’re also dreaming up some purely social events…including stuff we can do online while in quarantine. Virtual game nights, happy hours, maybe even Philly Freelance Karaoke?

Some of these will be available a-la carte, with a mix of free and ticketed/paid access. We’re also working on an all-inclusive membership community to help keep things affordable and create a stronger sense of community between events and activities.

Oh, and one more thing…

💊 HEALTHCARE. At the Freelance Fest I teased that I’m working with some industry partners to launch a brand new program designed for people who find the current insurance marketplace expensive and inadequite.

Bottom line: access to healthcare should NOT be a barrier for anything, including self-employment.

Until a few weeks ago, our plan was a slow rollout this coming summer. But given the fast-changing needs of workers everywhere, we’re figuring out how to speed up the launch of this new program designed to help everyone get affordable access to primary care, prescription drugs, and mental health services.

We’re still prioritizing safety and “do no harm” while we figure out an expedited rollout, so I can’t say a whole lot more right now, but I’m hopeful that what we’re getting ready to launch will help a lot of you get back to seeing a doctor without the expensive premiums and copays we’re used to seeing.

I’m aiming to have a waiting list live for this in the next few days.

That’s more than enough from me today, but hopefully this gives you a glimmer of hope that this community – and the team working behind the scenes – have your back.

Be well. Stay safe. Wash your damn hands.

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❤️ A bit of Indy Hall “Netiquette”

Whether you’re an online veteran or brand new to internet spaces, Internet Etiquette (aka “Netiquette” is something that we can all be mindful to observe. This is true always, but especially true right now. 

First and foremost, offline rules apply online. Our code of conduct is fully transferable online. And when in doubt, don’t say anything online you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. That’s that. 

Note: We highly recommend thinking through guidelines and how to communicate them if you are hosting an online community

Second, please try to post with context. Especially with the instinct to share every link and news snippet that happens, we’d like to avoid a situation where our online spaces are inundated with links…but no discussion. That’s a bit like running into a room, saying a random sentence, and walking away. Not exactly the friendliest interaction, especially when the link may include stressful news!

So if you have a link you wish to share, that is 100% what these spaces are for but please take a moment to share it with context. What does this link make you think or feel? Does it raise a question for discussion? Does it just make you happy? Will others find it useful, and if so, who?

Taking the time to share with CONTEXT helps make online conversations more like in-person ones. It takes some practice but is a good communication habit in general. 

Third, ask for consent before sharing private conversations in public. Even though we’re connecting on the internet, the Indy Hall spaces are typically member-only spaces by default. 

If you want to share a screenshot of what someone said, or a group photo of a gathering on zoom, that’s okay BUT please ask permission from the people appearing in your image first! 

Most people will appreciate being asked and quickly say yes, but some have good reasons for preferring to keep their presence out of public spaces and will appreciate even MORE that you asked first. In most cases, you can still share as long as you crop or cover part of the image. 

Have other netiquette suggestions? Tweet at Alex and we’ll add them!

So if you’re looking for a little bit of extra human contact, or a friendly distraction from the world outside, this is YOUR personal invitation to join us for any or all of them.

If you’re not a member yet, our online community membership starts at just $20/month.

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Building access + picking up mail during COVID-19

In case you missed the news, Indy Hall (like the rest of Philly) is closed through the end of the month for the safety of our team, community, and city.

Here’s our comprehensive post about how we are moving all community activity online, and how we are handling memberships during this period.

Thank you so much for the positive and supportive responses over the last few days. It really means a lot. ️❤️

A few people have remarked with similar sentiments along the lines of “this isn’t so much about changing where we work, so much as trying to maintain during a crisis.” I hope you’re being kind and patient with yourself, in addition to the folks around you. And parents…I really feel for you.

Today I want to share a brief update on a couple of the top logistical questions about accessing our building and picking up mail/packages.

I need to lead with the fact that anything I share here, and that we have planned, is based on what we know right now and is subject to change….basically anytime? 😬

Need to get into Indy Hall to get something you own?

First and foremost, please do not try to come into Indy Hall to work. 

At this time we are working to minimize presence in the building as much as possible. I do not want anybody in our community to risk unnecessary exposure/transmission with anybody else who may still be in the building in spite of the government-imposed lockdown.

With that said…

If you are a keyholder, you can use your key to get in to quickly grab anything you might need at home while we’re closed.

If you are not a keyholder, we will have specific scheduled pickup times for belongings and mail 2x a week on Tuesday and Friday where either Adam or I are present for a window of time to allow people in.

You can book a time to pick up your mail here:
https://calendly.com/indy-hall/pickup

The slots are 15 minutes, so please try to be on time. If we run out of slots, we’ll figure things out how to add more.

All members should have received a link to reserve a pickup slot in your email today. If you did not, please let us know: team@indyhall.org.

In either case please follow the cleaning and sanitization guidelines of washing your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after entering the building, and touching any door handles or shared surfaces. We will have soap and disinfectant on-site.

As soon as any of these details or expectations change, we’ll let you know ASAP.

NOTE: If you urgently need to get something from the coworking space outside of the scheduled pickup windows, please email us team@indyhall.org and we will coordinate a way for you to get in as soon as possible.

Mail Notifications and Pickup

According to our building management, mail is still being delivered to our suite and will be for the foreseeable future.

Our current plan is to use the same pickup sessions for one of our team members to go in and sort the mail every Tuesday and Friday while we are there.

We will also use our existing mail notification system to notify you when you have mail or packages that have arrived. These emails will include a photo of the mail or package so you can get an idea of what it is and how urgent it may be to pick up, along with a link to schedule a pickup time.

Please try to prioritize coming in for important mail/packages only!

So please watch your email inbox for notifications that look like this:

NOTE: If you have a very important package or delivery, and need to get into Indy Hall to pick it up outside of the scheduled pickup windows, please email us team@indyhall.org and we will coordinate a way for you to get in as soon as possible.

We’re doing our best to consider the most common and critical cases, so if there’s something we’ve overlooked or an idea for how to make this easier, PLEASE reply to this email and let us know!

That’s it for this email. Stay tuned for the next communication.

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our coworking space is closed temporarily for the safety of our community and city

Well, this is new. 

As of 5pm on March 16th, the City of Philadelphia is ordering a mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses through the end of this month until further notice. 

This will undoubtedly have crushing ripple effects throughout our city. However, with all of the evidence we have, this action is necessary to save lives. During one of our team calls today, Anaia shared something she said to a relative: 

“Lives that aren’t lost can be rebuilt.”

Critically, this does mean that our coworking space is closed right now and will be until it’s deemed safe.

If there is any way of safely opening sooner, we absolutely will, but an exact date is uncertain right now. Mayor Kenny has said “there is no playbook for this.” I feel that. 

So I’m sure you have a lot of questions. Adam, Anaia and I are working together to communicate as much as we know we can answer.  

In the meantime, while the first part of our initial response plan has changed we are committed to the remaining two parts.  

1. Adam and Anaia are working on a robust digital coworking and community plan to help us stay connected and weather this storm together

The internet is an especially anxious place right now, but still a valuable tool that we intend to use to keep our community more connected.

Our plan is that starting this week we will carve out a schedule of online activities that allow us to come together online to work, stay connected, and support one another. 

If you have ideas for things you’d like to see, or lead, or experiment with…this is the time! You don’t need to know how we can figure that out together. 

No ideas are dumb ideas. Drop us a line at team@indyhall.org and we can schedule a video chat to brainstorm together. 

2. We intend to credit your active coworking membership during this closure towards future months, once we are allowed to re-open. 

If my #1 priority is the longterm safety of our team and community, the very very very close second is making sure that our team is taken care of, and that Indy Hall’s coworking space is still around for us to return to when we get to the other side of this crisis.

So, as I also mentioned in my previous post, we planned to roll all unused day passes during the current billing period into future months. This is still the plan, though the specifics are still being determined so that we can be fair to members of all levels.

Transparently, in order for this to happen, I’m working quickly to figure out our options financially. 

My request to you, our community, is to grant me time to formulate a plan. I recognize that everyone is likely concerned about finances right now, but if you have the means to maintain your current membership for even just a couple more weeks, please do. That will give us the time to come up with a better long-term plan to ensure that Indy Hall can exist long into the future.

With that said, if anyone’s membership DOES become a financial strain during the next few weeks, PLEASE communicate with us. The last thing I want is for money to keep any of you away from our community at this time. Instead, we can figure out a way to create a mutually beneficial exchange based on your skills or interests. Whatever it needs to be, we’ll figure it out. 

I have a lot more that I want to say, but right now, I think this is enough. We all have a lot to digest.

Be careful. Be safe. Call people you care about. 

And remember: “Lives that aren’t lost can be rebuilt.”

❤️Alex

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Our COVID-19 Response and Planning

The last few days have been…pretty unusual.

Like you, the team and I been monitoring news about the COVID19 virus and the rapidly changing information about what’s happening locally, nationwide, and globally.

There’s been some valuable discussion among community members in Slack and Groupbuzz but for me, the hardest thing right now is not knowing exactly what happens next.

With that in mind, we want to play a proactive role in slowing the spread of this virus rather than waiting until things get to some unknown level of “worse” in the future.

At the same time, no matter how things change going forward, I want us to remember that Indy Hall’s most valuable resource is each other. In the coming weeks, it’s likely that many of us will experience some form of anxiety and isolation. Anxiety and isolation are precisely what we’ve aimed to curb as a community.

Maybe this is a time for us to shine as a beacon of mutual support in a time when folks need each other the most?

We’ve always operated our community along these 3 tenets, which are just as relevant now as ever:

  • Take care of yourself.
  • Take care of each other.
  • Take care of this place.

So as a team and a community, we’re going to implement a number of precautionary measures to help “flatten the curve” while still preserving the elements of care, the availability of our shared space and most importantly enhancing our online community efforts for everybody to access some of the coworking elements from home.

The most notable and important changes right now are:

  1. Indy Hall is staying open for now, but we’re increasing our cleaning/sanitization efforts.
  2. We’re migrating lots of events and other community experiences to be online-only, and introducing more new ways to stay connected “virtually”
  3. We’re adding a rollover policy for memberships

Below, you’ll find more detail about each of these changes. Please read them carefully!

1. Is Indy Hall staying open? Yes, for now.

We’re paying close attention to the guidance from WHO and our local/federal health departments, and we are in close contact with our building management and staff.

While the City of Philadelphia has suggested the elimination of large group gatherings (250-1000+ people) for the next 30 days, and at this point do not have specific plans for a complete closure and instead are increasing our precautions.

We’ve also increased cleaning and sanitizing measures internally and with our building’s cleaning staff. Cleaning staff are being trained to be extra vigilant about cleaning high-transmission surfaces like doorknobs, restroom faucets/sinks, paper towel dispensers, etc.

There is now a touch-free hand soap dispenser next to our kitchen sink. Soap + water are among the most effective ways to mitigate transmission, so we want to make it easy for you to wash your hands regularly. You can also find a large dispenser of hand sanitizer by the front door, compliments of Jess Mason, on top of the mailbox area.

We will be disinfecting desks and tables more often as well. You can help us by keeping your desk and workspace clean and disinfected using the Method spray cleaner available in the kitchen.

As much as it pains me to ask, please avoid shaking hands or giving hugs/high fives. Let’s use this as a prompt to come up with our own contactless ways of greeting one another. (Is it finally time to debut Adam’s signature Psi-Five*? Maybe. Maybe not. )

And it probably goes without saying but we’ll say it anyway:

  • If you’re feeling unwell, please work from home
  • If you are part of a vulnerable group or you are immunocompromised, or are in frequent contact with a member of vulnerable groups, please work from home.

Lastly, we’re deciding as a team how to proceed with reducing our own exposure. It’s likely that during the coming weeks we’ll be operating with one team member (myself, Adam, or Anaia) on site at a time while the others are working from home to support the expansion of our online community efforts. Which leads me to….

2. Moving more community activity online

Many of you may understandably choose to work from Indy Hall less often over the coming weeks. But odds are you chose to be a part of Indy Hall because of the human connections, so we’re going to use this as an opportunity to have our online community shine.

Most recent additions include a new channel in Slack called #brightside for finding/sharing GOOD NEWS to keep us optimistic and entertained. There is also a separate #covid19 channel if you want to keep tabs on updates and news about the virus, as well as have a place to vent and commiserate. Special thanks to Lydia Martin and Bon Alimango respectively for creating these two new channels. There are dozens of other channels to help you stay connected and productive!

That said, we know that Slack is confusing and overwhelming for some people. So if you’re interested in getting more active on Slack, but aren’t sure how or have questions, we’re going to schedule some group sessions in the next week to help more people feel comfortable in this very valuable online space, so stay tuned for that!

We’re also working to rework and/or reschedule as many of our upcoming events as possible to be 100% online through video chat. If you have an event scheduled (or an event idea that might translate to video), please let us know at team@indyhall.org and we’ll help with the logistics!

If we do this right and use this experience as a testing ground for new ways to gather online, we should be able to continue creating these more accessible online experiences long past the virus outbreak.

Virtual Lunchroom + Watercooler + Coworking
I expect that we’ll continue using Zoom for “scheduled” online gatherings, but with your support and enthusiasm, we would like to experiment with some tools that facilitate a sense of “presence” as well as the more serendipitous conversations that really make coworking special.

tandem demo

The important thing is that we are in this together. Indy Hall doesn’t stop being a valuable community when you’re working from home. Quite the contrary, many members primarily interact with the Indy Hall community through our online community.

So remember that no matter where you are in the world, you belong to a group of people who care deeply about your health, happiness, and well-being.

We’re gonna keep doing what we know how to do, which is look out for one another and come up with as many ways possible for people to connect and help each other out.

And no matter where you are or what’s going on, you can always reach the Indy Hall core team by Slack – myself, Adam, and Anaia. We’ll also make time for 1-1 or group conversations via Zoom during this time when in-person conversations aren’t possible.

3. New Membership Rollover Policy

Starting immediately and for the duration of this unusual scenario, any unused day passes included in your membership will roll forward into future months.

We’re still figuring out exactly the best logistical way to do this with our membership management software, but while it’s best for people to stay home, we want to honor your membership and hopefully reduce the needs to downgrade or cancel.

For full time members where rollover days are possibly less useful, we’d like to come up with something that is fair and of value to offer.

We’re instituting this rollover policy in part because it’s the right thing to do. But in the interest of transparency, we’re also doing it to make sure that Indy Hall is still around on the other side of this event. A massive wave of membership changes could put Indy Hall in a precarious situation.

If you have the means to continue your membership, we’d like a chance to earn your membership through the enhanced online resources described above and a fair rollover policy that will provide more value in the future.

If you have questions or concerns about this new policy, please drop us a line to team@indyhall.org

Please keep the lines of communication open.

As we learn more and any details change, we’ll continue these communications.

If you or someone you know becomes aware of ANY individual in our community or building who may have been exposed to (or tests positive for) the virus, please notify us immediately. We’ll work quickly to take action however is deemed necessary.

Once again, we’re in this together and we’ll get through it together. As long as we stick to our core principles, I’m confident that we’ll come out of this experience an even stronger community.

With gratitude,

Alex Hillman, Adam Teterus, Anaia Daigle
The Indy Hall Team

*patent pending

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