Tuesday, May 5, 2009

whats a jelly?

Depending on the workplace circles you travel you may have heard the term "Jelly" tossed about. As in "Will I see you at the Jelly at Bob's place next week?", Or "I've decided to host a Jelly at my loft every other tuesday - drop in!" No, it has nothing to do with toast. Or at least toast is optional..

I can't find a strict definition, but my take on it from what I've read is that a Jelly is a loosely structured work get together hosted at a particular dwelling or studio space on a regular or scheduled basis, although it seems sometimes they form spontaneously. Its like a work party, not to paint your place, but for people to bring their own work to do for a day at your place. At a Jelly friends, associates, all generally independent workers, will drop in to the designated location to work and/or to collaborate. The idea is that the participants will gain the benefits of interaction with colleagues, the elimination of distractions they may have working at home, or just a more studious environment coming from your focused coworkers - the library reading room effect! We've seen this same relationship to coffee shop working, and CoWorking entities. But also this seems to generate a fresh focus for the independent worker, where the new workplace situation may actually help them experience greater productivity. I know I've experienced this phenomenon when forced to work in ad hoc situations, while traveling, or waiting, suddenly there is a reservoir of focus on hand. Some Jellys go on to develop into a CoWorking collective reinforcing the argument that the community often exists before the CoWorking site does.

But that is just my limited perceptions. I'd love to hear more from Jelly participants in the comments. Also here is an article on Jellys from the UK's On Office magazine - link.

Update: here is a web site dedicated to Jellys, and it includes a listing of recurring Jellys in different cities: http://workatjelly.com/  http://wiki.workatjelly.com/


  1. I can see two kinds of benefits from a Jelly. First, freelance workers (what the On Office article describes as a majority of the group) sometimes need to find discipline and the Jelly offers that. I sometimes go to a coffee shop to work because there are less destractions there than at my office or home. The second benefit is much more interesting. Economists say that cities exist for two main reasons, to lower the cost of production and to make workers more productive. A big part of increased worker productivity comes from informal educational markets. If I take a class at a local college, I get a benefit but I pay for it. But if I have access to more people who do jobs like me and I can bounce ideas off them or simply watch them do what they do and pick up some ideas that make me more productive, that increase in my productivity is through an informal market. After taking account of formal education and experience, economists estimate that doubling a city size increases productivity by 10%. So the bigger the city, the more informal learning goes on.
    But here is a big question. If an informal market for learing from each other is a part of the Jelly experience, are they more useful if the members are all in closely related industries or in less similar industries?
    Interesting aside: It appears that doubling city size causes the cost of living to rise by about 16%. This 6% difference between income and cost of living represents the "tuition" people pay to attend the informal college of New York, Chicago, LA, London, etc.

  2. interesting observations Jeff - thank you


Blog Widget by LinkWithin