The evening of Thursday 27 June 2019 saw IP Inclusive supporters around the country gathering together to meet, network, share ideas and have fun. This Connected Bubbles social event, taking place in eight different venues, had been organised by our Women in IP community and was a fantastic way to bring in the summer. It was loosely themed around so-called “agile working” – an excuse for a light-hearted exchange of people’s experiences (and horror stories). In Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester the event also marked the launch of our new North of England network.
Anne-Marie Conn, a trainee patent attorney at Abel & Imray, has kindly provided a report from the Bath event she attended, and we’ve included photos from all the other venues around the country.
Connected Bubbles: Women in IP
Bath Belfast Cambridge Glasgow Leeds London Manchester Sheffield
Thursday saw Women in IP’s first summer drinks event: Connected Bubbles. Hosted in eight charming, summery venues across the UK, this ambitious networking event had a diverse range of IP professionals in attendance. Excitingly, the evening also marked the launch of the North of England IP Inclusive network.
Connected Bubbles kicked off with drinks and (appropriately!) bubbly conversation, as the attendees got to know each other and swapped stories. In due course, we moved on to a discussion space around women in IP, fuelled by some light-hearted questions:
- Where was the most bizarre agile working you have done?
- What is the funniest interruption you have had on a work call?
- What is the worst or funniest slip-up you have made or subterfuge undertaken in trying to juggle work and home commitments?
One of the key issues that can improve diversity and inclusion is flexible working. However, it does have its challenges. Sharing insights around these questions helped us all to take a light-hearted look at the issue.
Some of the answers were amusing – it seems background noise caused by cats and flushing toilets can be the nemesis of conference calls! One cat has even been known to walk past the webcam during a video call, and another attendee shared a story of a puppy jumping onto the laptop keyboard in the middle of dictating a draft patent application.
Other stories highlighted how hard we all work: taking calls with a crying baby in tow, working on a beach in Barbados, and even working on honeymoon.
Kids can be a handful too – demanding a toilet trip during a call, or asking Alexa to turn on loud music in the background. One attendee had the rather unpleasant experience of their child throwing sardines over them during a call…!
Perhaps surprisingly, there weren’t too many stories in response to the question of “subterfuge”. Maybe there is more and more openness about working flexibly – which can only be a good thing. One colleague in Bath mentioned a call, taken from home, during which the client breezily mentioned he was driving his kids to school while he talked. This gave the IP professional in question the confidence to say that she, too, had her kids in the background!
All eight venues were linked up via WhatsApp, so we had the opportunity to share stories between the different locations across the UK. Hearing answers from other venues made us all laugh as well as providing food for thought. This also prompted several “that also happened to me!” moments – as attendees realised they were not the only ones to have had these humorous moments.
In Bath, we found that the three light-hearted questions above led us on to share some really inspiring stories. For the younger attendees, it was wonderful to hear stories from more experienced colleagues of how they’ve achieved their ambitions while juggling an armful of commitments. Long past the “official” end time for the evening, we were still sitting talking about how to find that elusive work-life balance.
The prosecco was pretty yummy, too.
We are grateful to Anne-Marie for providing this report. Do send in your own as well. And in the meantime, huge thanks to Joey Conway, co-lead on the Women in IP Committee, for all the hard work, energy and enthusiasm she put into making this project happen, from the initial big vision to the smallest of details that made the evening work so well. And to Emily Teesdale and Lucy Samuels, also on the committee, for handling the social media activity while the rest of us were just sitting back enjoying a glass of something fizzy.
Page published on 2nd July 2019
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Anne-Marie's report makes me even more disappointed that I couldn't get to Connected Bubble on the day, but some of the 'interruptions' stories put me in mind of my own time running a boutique, pharma-/biotech-focused IP business from home when my children were little. Now I am working from home again, the most enterprising interruptions I get are from the window cleaner! However, none of my past stories comes anywhere near being as funny as what happened in this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh4f9AYRCZY. It's worth bearing in mind that men have these issues, too! On a more serious note, though, there is a balance to be had here, and creating a separate office space plus 'training' co-habitants to knock before they enter or at least quietly to check if ok to do so is a holy grail for homeworkers. Equally, boundaries need to be put in place for clients and/or work colleagues - I remember being phoned one Christmas day by a client from the Far East and then again in the middle of the night by another from South America; family and sleep also deserve separate 'spaces' into which work should not be welcomed.
Julie Barrett (PurposiveStep Consulting)