Categories
flexible working future of work Newsletter work culture

The Shift: Professional Reinvention🕵🏻‍♀️

• Four big trends at work
• Practical strategies for reinvention – meet your possible selves 

How do you reinvent yourself professionally during precarious times? 

A friend has stopped hosting corporate events because of the pandemic and isn’t sure she wants to go back to it, given all the restrictions – where’s the fun? She’s figuring out her next step and doing another job and a ceramics class – enjoying working with her hands. I’m also in transition, not so much reinventing as repositioning myself, so I’ve been digging around to see what resources can help. 

Catch up on this talk on professional reinvention with Herminia Ibarra, a professor at London Business School, if you’re contemplating a career change or thinking about how to redefine your current role. She takes an evidence-based approach and shares some tools and practical strategies (via The RSA Good Work Guild/Polymath Festival).

Four big trends

  • Longevity – we’re living longer, and we want to do different things, so we’ll need to reinvent ourselves a few times – including reinventing retirement. Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott are leading thinkers on this: The 100-Year-Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity.
  • Technology is disrupting things – gig work, freelancing, portfolio careers, and remote work – which wasn’t really a thing 20+ years ago when I started working. It’s creating opportunities and changing how companies operate.
  • Work change – the pandemic has disrupted our routines and created space to ask the big questions: what matters? What do you want to do? What is worth doing? It’s also a reminder of our mortality. My neighbour (in her 60s) has quit her corporate job to co-run a brasserie and jazz bar with her best mate here in Hastings. She doesn’t want to spend her life commuting and has more time for herself now her kids are at uni.
  • Social expectations – in a survey of 5000 people (aged 20-60s) asking about a career change, by far, the most significant trend was a shift towards more meaningful work. We want meaning, passion, and balance – and to create our own opportunities.

Professional reinvention is a transition which can be unsettling – but it’s also exciting. 

A psychological and social process:

Moving away from something without not yet having yet left it, while moving towards something without not yet knowing what it is. That’s the magic of it and that’s the challenge of it. 

Transition takes longer than you anticipate, and it’s a messy, non-linear process of experimenting and learning. It’s about knowing what you don’t want anymore, but you can’t pinpoint what you’d like to do instead – or the goal posts are shifting. It’s also under-institutionalised – there’s no set pattern and the steps are unclear.

As she calls it, I’m in the ‘messy middle’ phase – an exciting and challenging period between old and new – oscillating between ‘holding on’ a bit longer and ‘letting go’ and taking the leap. Psychologists call this ‘fertile emptiness’ – you may be busy exploring things or having quiet time to reflect and do inner business. I’ve been doing both over the last year. You can’t shortcut it. Play, explore, and delay commitment.

3 things you can do

Get out there and start activating some of these possible selves. 

  1. Get some side projects – experiment with your ideas. Take on projects at work or advisory roles externally, work with friends, do voluntary work, give or take a class, start a side hustle, write a book, speak to a headhunter… Bring those possible selves to life.
  2. Shift your network – our identity is the company we keep. Find mentors and kindred spirits – this helps generate ideas and shapes the messy middle process.
  3. Make sense out loud – create new experiences and self-reflect out loud to help yourself figure things out. Talk about it with others, it’s hard to self-reflect in isolation. 

As adults, we’re more likely to act our way into a new way of thinking than to think our way into a new way of acting.I love that. Get out of your head and do stuff. It’s a really productive phase of taking action rather than getting stressed about not having clarity or knowing the outcome.

There are all kinds of constraints – financial mostly, and of course we can’t get into every career in our 40s, but from what she’s seen during her research: “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Lots of positive comments about her book Working Identity changing people’s lives along with Charles Handy’s The Age of Unreason.

For more on multiple selves check out psychologist Hazel Marcus.

Follow her research @HerminiaIbarra.

I’m taking a break from publishing the newsletter in August – going on a pilgrimage locally with a friend and seeing my folks – can’t believe it’s been a year! I’ll be on board #Ship30for30 in mid-August and sharing essays on Twitter🚢

Have a great summer!


5 things🖐

📆What really happened in Iceland’s 4-day week trial? It’s complex: this project was about understanding the impact of fewer hours, not specifically the 4-day week. Key lessons: Regardless of the type of work, productivity does not slip if we cut hours. We unquestionably waste time at work (and in the UK, we work some of the longest hours in Europe). We need more trials like this – sign this petition to encourage companies to join the 4-day week pilot in 2022.

Nicole Michaelis’ on teaching content marketing, running a business, and UX writing at Spotify (includes tips and advice). Super practical and encouraging career advice, and she tells it like it is! Fantastic example of a one-page resume that has inspired my own on Canva. 

🤾🏻‍♀️When we allow ourselves to work and live at full throttle, scarcity is bred very quickly. I personally think [it] destroys our psychological freedom and the ability to enjoy the successes that we do have in life.” Dr Pippa Grange on how we can let go of fear and lead more fulfilling lives. I love what she says about the power of small acts of intimacy to unlock teams’ performance (she’s worked with some of the biggest names in sport and business). 

Well done, Simone Biles and Ben Stokes, for taking a break from sport to prioritise your mental wellbeing and have a rest. Physical health is mental health. 

👩‍🎤How the desire to maintain a personal brand may be harming your business. A deep-dive into the darker sides of having a personal brand as a business owner: distraction, burnout, cancel culture and the tricks that followers and algorithms play on you. There’s a lot at stake in the world of the digital entrepreneur. Ellen Donnelly on how creator culture is distracting us from our craft – “at least make your job your job, not talking about it.” 

🛣Remote, hybrid or in office? How to travel the (messy) road to the future of work. As we move to a ‘new’ normal where remote work is possible if not required, it’s important to recognise that the likely leaning toward hybrid work conditions will be a messy road to travel down. Minter Dial on what needs to happen to make hybrid work work. “Trust is the glue that makes remote work work – how trusting and trustworthy are you as a leader?”


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is your guide to running a successful minimalist business🚀 Start living and working on your own terms.

Your weekly dose of inspiration, ideas and solutions✨

• Question or comment? Fancy doing a guest issue or contributing a section?
Email nicci@niccitalbot.io.
• Tip me – this is a one-woman labour of love, all donations gratefully received.
• Book a Classified Ad.

To offset the carbon emissions of this newsletter and my online work, I plant 12 trees every month via Ecologi. I encourage you to do the same in your country – here’s a list of climate action groups. We’ve got 10 years to sort this out – no time to waste🌍


Categories
flexible working future of work London technology

How flexible working is a battle for equality

London Rising new online event series

#LondonRising on what’s next for workplace culture

Great insights into the future of work from Annie Auerbach, founder of Starling trends agency and author of FLEX – the Modern Woman’s Handbook; designer Thomas Heatherwick and Kevin Ellis, Chairman of PwC.

  • The office is evolving. It’s becoming a collaborative space for meeting and training. The strange old design briefs that banged on about workers as ‘cogs’ in the system and banged on about efficiency are disappearing. We’re now thinking of emotion as a function. If the five days on/two days off model is reversed, we’ll see more professional promiscuity, which means…
  • The office needs to work harder, not the people. The quality of experience will need to be higher. I love this: ‘The exciting bit – finally – the place of work needs to be a temple for the values of that organisation, not a gruntwork factory where the onus is put on the front desk.’
  • How do we make the office extraordinary? Like a shot in the arm delivering the company’s values? Take inspiration from religious buildings and how they engage people’s emotions and provide a nurturing environment. 
  • Creating meeting spaces that bring teams together. Clubhouse has a town hall update every Sunday, which regularly has overflow rooms – if this was a physical space, I’d imagine something like this – the Roman amphitheatre. Togas optional 😉
  • No one wants to work in an ivory tower. Companies are making changes, encouraging staff to go out for lunch instead of using the staff canteen to support the ecosystem around offices and connect with the community. The flipside is with WFA, you can support your local high street and get to know business owners for half the London price. 
  • Flexible work is an expectation, not a perk. Remote working has been gaining momentum for years, and Covid is the tipping point. ‘The genie is out of the bottle’. A recent survey said half of UK employees would quit if denied flexible working post-pandemic. And there are plenty of senior people who work part-time and keep it a secret.
  • Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, calls for flexible working to be normalised – a move that will boost employment in areas away from major cities and help turbocharge opportunities for women – who are twice as likely as men to work flexibly. 
  • All businesses are in a war for talent. Pioneering companies understand the need to ride the wave to get the best talent by giving people choice and flexibility. Great to hear PwC plans to roll out a flexible working policy that will allow its 22,000 UK staff to split their time between home and office. We should extend flexible working to blue-collar workers as well as white-collar.

I said no to an interview for a senior editor role this week as ‘they’re looking for someone to be in the office full time.’ So they will be hiring someone who can afford to live in London or commute in easily. I said I’ve been remote working for years as a single parent with a disability living outside London. What is the point of commuting to an office five days a week? I’d be too knackered to give them my best.

And good to hear Tony Blair (with his fab new hair – Brad Pitt or Gandalf?) talking about how we can move forward by working together. Covid isn’t ending – we’re in a new world and have to prepare for it. We need to use aid to quickly vaccinate the globe so countries aren’t isolated, and improve our cloud-based genome databases.

Tech is a huge opportunity

I disagree with what he said about remote working as a problem for new starters – we don’t need to be in the same room to learn – tech makes it possible to have many mentors virtually, and we can learn faster. Sharing confidential information online can be a challenge, but we have encryption and old school phone calls!

The business and tech event is on 12 May, exploring how the pandemic has impacted women and how technology can help us set better digital boundaries. I’m looking forward to hearing from Nicola Mendelson, VP EMEA Facebook and mum of four, on her challenges; Facebook’s research on how small businesses have been affected by the pandemic, and an insider view on the future of AR/VR – Facebook’s upcoming new smart glasses. 

The recurring theme at all the events I’ve been to lately is on building NEW, not building back better. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent how we live and work, so let’s not waste it. London should be shouting from the rooftops, loud & proud that it’s open for business with jobs and career opportunities for all.

Make flexible working a right from day one and build the kind of place where people want to work. Then we won’t need to talk about flex working anymore 😉

Interesting to see how things are going in Sydney – they’re a bit further along. Labor’s new policy would force companies to publicly release gender pay gap data to help close the gap.

Sector-themed events are convenient but they keep us in a box. It would be brilliant to see more cross-industry events like Creative Women, bringing people together from different sectors to network, brainstorm and help each other. More diverse experiences and perspectives can boost creativity and help with problem-solving.


Go deeper 🛠

new survey of 32,500 workers in 19 countries paints a picture of a global workforce that sees the shift to remote working as just the tip of the iceberg. We’re ready to build new skills, completely retrain and focusing on entrepreneurship.

Government taskforce urges permanent job flexibility for all workers. Millions could benefit from new rights to work from home once the pandemic is over. Even civil servants are now working flexibly ‘to capitalise on productivity gain’ – a bit of a u-turn, Rishi 😉

How flexible work is a battle for equality. New analysis – male-dominated firms want workers back at their desks… and are choking out diversity by cementing in less flexible working policies. 

A refreshing, optimistic take on the future of work from Elizabeth Uviebinene, author of The Reset: Ideas to Change How We Live and Work. ‘The future of work is community.’

Get ready for the new workplace perks. Out go gyms and free meals, in come gong baths and financial advice. It will be interesting to see how big tech companies adapt their giant campuses if more people choose to work remote. 

A Sydney fintech company’s approach to flexible work—and what lessons it can offer to companies elsewhere. And Atlassian’s ‘Team Anywhere’ policy.

What the tech world is doing to counter burnout. Microsoft’s new Outlook settings reduce meetings by five to 15 minutes. Give yourself regular doses of micro self-care.

New gen Tokyo conference room explores new workstyles to foster creativity. An experience to excite all your senses… 

Enjoy reading this? Sign up to The Shift for more updates.