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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
future of work Neuroscience Portfolio careers Wellness

Tame your inner critic🙄

I’ve joined a Newsletter Mastermind, and ‘not feeling ready’ came up on this week’s call. “I’m on my 100th issue, and it’s the same every time – the day before it goes out, and I still don’t know what I’m going to write about. Yet somehow, every week, it gets pushed over the finishing line.” It turned into a discussion on how to be ‘inner critic ready’ led by @ReddyToGo – he’s the man.

I said I’m the same. Working on things last minute (writing this on Saturday night) or running late. I had an argument with a friend once about my lateness, and she said: “It’s because you don’t feel ready.” She was right. I was trying to do too much – hustling hard in London at that time. It’s probably the most helpful thing anyone’s said to me. 

Tame your inner critic

The inner critic mixes negative critical comments from our parents, siblings, peers, and teachers when we were growing up. It isn’t a bad thing, says writer and author Jennifer Nelson“Researchers agree that a little self-awareness can be a reality check, but a constant barrage of self trash-talk is debilitating.”

In her talk on listening to shame, Brene Brown says it relies on you buying into it – tell yourself something often enough, and you’ll eventually believe it to be true. “Shame needs three things to percolate: secrecy, silence and perception of judgement.” 

It can be an issue for portfolio professionals as we’re working on short term projects in new environments with different teams. You’re expected to hit the ground running, be an expert and produce good work quickly. But each project is different and team dynamics and nuances take a while to figure out. You’re learning as you go and you make mistakes. You also have to put yourself out there, pitching for gigs, negotiating rates and dealing with rejection.

The inner critic is a feature of the tricky brain. Unfortunately, we can’t fire them, but they can be an extra rather than centre-stage…


Some strategies to help you deal with your inner critic

(and have a better, more productive relationship with yourself)

  • Give them a name. There are two actors in constant conversation – the nurturer and the critic. Mine is called Nancy. She’s an out of work theatre critic (failed actress, really) who never has a good word to say about anyone, except Cliff Richard. She’s 6”2, wears heels, diamante and a purple wig (a bit Dame Edna). Except she always wears black. @readyforthefuneral. She’s had no work during the pandemic and is taking her frustrations out on me. My nurturers are the Caring Committee – Spock, Jarvis, Oprah, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Mr Miyagi, Gandalf, Sean Bean, & Ted Hastings, who rally around to big me up. Never a dull day! It helps me distance myself from the drama and be a calm witness. 
  • Be mindful. The cure is empathy, says Brene. Say to yourself, “I understand, but those thoughts aren’t true.” And replace ‘I can’t’ with ‘I might’. Notice negative thoughts when they come up and write them down. Look for moments in the day when others see the effort you’ve made. Write them down. If the conversation is getting a bit one-sided, I know I’m tired and need a break. 
  • Stop ruminating – I had some negative feedback on a piece of copy this week. It wasn’t quite right, so we had to redo it after a call with the client. A bit disappointing as it’s a new gig and I wanted to make a good impression. I felt a bit flat, thinking about what I could have done better. But I’ve only been on the job for two days and don’t have much context. I let myself replay it for a bit, then distracted myself with something else: went for a walk and watched something on Netflix. Learn and let go.
  • Set deadlines – No over-editing and over-researching, i.e. procrastinating. Anne-Laure at Ness Labs says she only edits her articles once before publishing them. The aim is to get the conversation started and tweak things based on feedback. I like that. Nothing is set in stone online. 
  • Dress smarter – it’s easier to silence your inner critic when you’re looking sharp and feeling good. We had a good discussion at TPC this week on personal branding, and this came up. Fiona’s tip: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. She’s also big on ‘fake it till you make it.’ 
  • Finding your why – LA-based writer, activist and wellness expert Katie Horwitch says the inner critic is a filler for uncertainty about your purpose. Get clear on the common thread in all you do and what you’re offering the world. What’s your story? Workshop it. It’s easier to do this with others than on your own. Others see things in you that you don’t. 

Nancy and I had a bust-up this week. She went off on one when I told her about the project feedback. Then I mentioned my podcast idea – interviewing hip hop entrepreneurs about their lives and work, and she sighed and rolled her eyes. “You don’t have the time, energy or contacts for that. You’re not in that world! Forget it, darling!” 

“Don’t patronise me. That’s the point. I don’t want to interview people like me. We have enough echo chambers out there….I want to do something different. ” 

We’re going for tea with the committee later, so let’s see what they have to say about it.  

She’s not coming on holiday with me (not till she apologises anyway). 


5 things🖐

👩‍💻LinkedIn Marketplace (launching Sept) – a new service for freelancers. Connect with employers, showcase your services, and do deals directly via the platform (initially focusing on design, marketing and software development). Good to see Microsoft investing in developing a bigger content platform with Creator mode, Services, Open to Work, trending stories. A bit of competition for Fiverr and Upwork.

✍️And some great tips from Ben Legg, CEO & Co-founder of The Portfolio Collective, on how to make the most of LinkedIn. Interesting comments on ageism. Noted and actioned! Thanks to Claire Moss for sending her notes. 

👨🏽‍🎤Personal branding. How do you make yourself stand out from a sea of competition? What makes you memorable? It’s much more than your logo. A deep dive into finding your why with brand gurus Fiona Chorlton-Voong and Alex Pitt. More on the inner critic and celebrating your differences. Inspiring to hear Alex’s story on launching her branding agency, Strange. 

💰Self-belief, reinvention and hard work: How to earn £100k+ as a freelance journalist. “I did it. So why not you? I had an end game, creativity and a pathological inability to take “No” for an answer.” Andrew Don on his 40-year journalistic career, self-belief and reinvention in his new book: The Bounty Hunter. His 10 essential ingredients to help you make serious money as a freelancer. 

🇮🇹All the Voices of the NUJ – a project helping international writers who are new to the UK by matching them up with a member who speaks their language. The guest speaker was John Worne, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, who talked about the joy and pleasure of languages. He flagged a few issues members have raised – it’s sad to hear languages aren’t being prioritised in the UK curriculum.

I’m trying to learn French and Italian, and Nancy pipes up frequently with her helpful comments. Along with my secondary school French teacher, Mrs Marchant, who told me not to do it at A-Level as I’d struggle. A fascinating chat about how being bilingual can put you in two minds: having different personalities in each language, and not taking it too seriously. Play with it and have a go🇮🇹


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
future of work remote working work culture

The Shift: Why you need a work wife 🤷‍♀️

A birthday card arrived yesterday from my second work wife – it’s 20 years since our first shift together at Wine Rack in Dulwich. She taught me the ropes, and we bonded over ‘cups of tea’ (you can’t recommend a wine to a customer unless you’ve tried it, a few times.) Eight-hour shifts, so we had plenty of time for deep conversations about everything. I thought she was super glam: tall and blonde in her sharp grey suits (she worked 9-5 in a Japanese bank), and she’d bring in baked fish for supper. 

She was my north star and confidante and made me feel at home in London. I enjoyed those shifts more than my ‘proper jobs’ because we had fun and I had a tribe and community. Whenever I drink wine, I think about our ‘cups of tea’, and when we chat, we pick up from where we let off, no dramas. I’m happy she’s still in my life. 

Are work wives or husbands a good idea? Academic research finds risks and benefits. Katie Heaney has written a history of the work spouse and says we need to lay the term to rest. ‘That we’ve adopted this language for co-workers reflects an overidentification with our workplaces, the result of a culture that recast workaholism as ambition and asked us to lean in and work smarter and stay hungry.’ 

But I’ve found them invaluable. My work wives have kept me sane, made me happier and mentally healthier. After the basics are covered, food and shelter, we need to belong. And they’re not confined to the workplace either. I have a coffee shop wife – the owner of a vegan cafe I’ve been going to since it opened in 2007. I’ve watched her build her business, mother her kids, survive a health crisis, split up with men, and keep going, always a smile on her face. She’s a huge inspiration.

I’m curious to know how you find meaningful friendships when working remotely and doing project work? And in a culture that’s focused on busyness and burnout, leaving even less time for socialising. How do you do it and avoid being a work widow? Elizabeth Uviebinené has some great ideas in her new book The Reset‘we need to ‘invest time in growing our local, work and digital communities.’ 

My current work wife is virtual – we met while freelancing for a client. She’s a graphic designer, photographer and digital marketer, so we’ve teamed up to offer a package for clients looking for digital comms. We’ve hired each other for little jobs and passed work on. She’s a brilliant friend and advisor and challenges me to get out of my comfort zone, i.e. charge more! It’s a friendship I treasure and mostly digital now as we’re no longer in the office. She’s a mum of three and living in a different town, so I go over there to co-work.

Working remotely with friends has its challenges – you have to be super clear on communication, deadlines, feedback, and money when you’re both bosses and mates. It’s new territory to explore, a different way of working, but no less exciting. Good team energy leads to great products and services.

I’m also starting from scratch in a new field of work, building connections and starting small with virtual coffees and Slack chats to try and find common ground. Sereena Abbassi, former Head of Diversity and Inclusion at M&C Saatchi, has some great ideas👇 on networking and mentoring – giving and adding value, so it’s a two-way street. 

I admire Sian Meades-Williams and Anna Codrea-Rado’s working relationship – they’re good mates who have set up the Freelance Writing Awards to celebrate and champion UK talent. They seem to have a lot of fun working together and have each other’s back—lots of banter and silliness on Twitter. The awards ceremony is on 30 June – you can see the shortlist and book your free ticket here.

Have a fabulous weekend. It’s my birthday so I’ll be having drinks later with another work wife – my old boss. Ten years on, and we’re still mates. I’ve even forgiven her for introducing me to my ex 😉 

Nicci


Tools for thought 

👨🏽‍💻 Freelance and microwork platforms not fair to workers (Irish Tech News) Oxford researchers have been looking into labour practices like ‘cloud work’ and found these platforms don’t provide minimum fairness standards for their workforce. A good benchmark if you’re using platforms to find work. The report is a call for better standards as poor practices aren’t visible online, and many lower-income countries won’t push back. You can join the Fair Work Pledge here

📵 Reddit/NoSurf: ‘A community of people focused on becoming more productive and wasting less time mindlessly surfing the internet.’ I love the no-surf activity list: a comprehensive list of awesome hobbies and activities to explore instead of mindlessly🏄🏻‍♀️ like cooking, writing, reading and dancing. What did we all do before smartphones? I’m delighted to find this little corner of the internet dedicated to digital wellness – please share! 

🎧 Sereena Abbassi on how building inclusion starts with empathy (Hive Learning) and using the arts to create a sense of togetherness through feeling. Tips on how you can build inclusion by interacting with people you wouldn’t normally. Know everybody’s name. Do someone else’s job for a day. On networking and how using co-working spaces helped her to avoid becoming ‘institutionalised’ at M&C Saatchi (same applies if you WFH home full time!)

🏢 The problem isn’t remote working; it’s clinging to office-based practices (The Guardian). Alexia Cambon on how maintaining this way of working in a remote environment is causing damage to employees. ‘We need to stop designing work around location and start designing work around human behaviour. Employees will work better, stay at their organisation longer and keep healthier if they are placed at the centre of work design – trust me; we have the data that proves it.’

🦅 The rise of ‘third workplaces (Axios). People aren’t working from the office, but they’re not working from home either. We’re seeing the rise of ‘third workplaces’ — teleworking spots in cafes, hotels, or co-working spaces where you can rent space by the hour. I’ve signed up with Flown, the Airbnb for teleworkers. Book yourself into a remote-work-ready property in the UK, Spain or Portugal. Plus virtual co-working and a library of deep work resources.

Just don’t curate your day too much 🤔 


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is a newsletter about humans, technology and wellness. Rethinking how we live, work + play. Weekly curated tools for thought and ideas to share ✍️

Question or comment? nicci@niccitalbot.io
Enjoy the read? Share it on TwitterI run on caffeine and Amaretti biscuits 🇮🇹
My bookshop → recommended reads
Want to be featured? Book a Classified ad. I’d rather promote your products and services first.

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 🌍

Categories
Design Thinking future of work Portfolio careers

The Shift: Reinvent yourself 🤠

My flat is like a greenhouse, so I’ve been working in cafés most days this week. I’m spending more but I need it. Self-care 🙂 To walk to work, be around people and have a chat with the baristas to find out what’s going on in Hastings (a slice of £610m government funding, lightning fibre broadband)⚡️

The Portfolio Collective: ‘The Domino effect is massive and contagious on the site.’

I’ve joined the Portfolio Collective, a startup by Ben Legg, a former COO of Google Europe, global technology CEO, McKinsey consultant and soldier. His mission: Helping entrepreneurs to reinvent themselves and society. There are 300,000 people in the UK with portfolio careers, and 16 million of us have a side hustle, so it’s a rapidly growing way of working. Eight months since launch and they already have 2,000 members. 

I did a couple of free events, decked out my profile, and set up a virtual coffee with the co-founder. The 1-hour Focus workshop is a deep dive into ikigai – the Japanese word for happiness, i.e. your reasons for getting out of bed. Finding the intersection between what you love, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. Finding your why and discovering your strengths.

There’s a design-thinking tool called the Odyssey Plan, where you map out three alternative lives you might live over the next five years. There are multiple versions of you and it’s good to remember how fearless and open you used to be as a kid before becoming a serious grown up with a one-person career… 

The Portfolio Collective

If I could give my younger self some advice, I’d say keep searching, there are so many opportunities to design a life you love. Be patient and don’t settle (for men or work!!) out of fear. Create your own roles and don’t be scared to wait for the right opportunity. Know that good things will come and have confidence in your worth 😍 

I think the resources and service they’re providing are brilliant whatever stage you’re at with your career. We all get stuck in a rut and need a shift in perspective which comes from hearing other people’s stories. Never underestimate the power of networking: ‘The domino effect is massive and contagious on the site.’ 

Get signing up and introduce yourself!! They’re looking for community voices to write articles and people to interview for the podcast. Coming soon – the first book club (Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game), and new talent matching opportunities with startups looking for hires 👍
https://portfolio-collective.com/

Here’s my playlist, Iggy-inspired as I could listen to him all day. Dial it up before your next Zoom performance to get you in the mood. No one remembers much of what you say during meetings, but they will remember your funky mug, focus and energy. Let me know if it changes your Zooms.

Happy sunbathing! 😎 🏝
Nicci


Tools for thought 

👨🏽‍💻Interesting report from Contra on the future of freelancing, with six key trends to note – we don’t want to work ourselves to death, portfolio working, charging by the project, top skills required for writers, and the mindset shift from freelancer to creator. I don’t use the term ‘freelance’ anymore as it doesn’t resonate. National Freelancers’ Day needs a rebrand: National Boss Day!

🤓Lockdown Leadership Series: Making Hybrid Work with Clare Josa (imposter syndrome specialist). How to take your virtual teams (and yourself) from surviving to thriving as we move from lockdown into hybrid working. 11 interviews and panel discussions during June. Get your free ticket and you can watch the earlier sessions on replay here.  

📕Brilliant talk with Harriet Minter on her new book: Working From Home. How to plan for the year ahead and balancing soul work with survival work. Ace on money: Have two budgets, ‘ask for the highest figure you can think of without laughing’; procrastination as perfectionism (she had a 10-week deadline and spent three weeks not writing it), & using the Owned, Earned and Paid media model for your networking.

🎙Simon Sinek on Finding Your Why. Why some organisations inspire and others don’t. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. Explain your purpose, cause and belief – your ikigai. Why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should anyone care? It’s worth reflecting on your ‘why’ and making sure it shines through in your comms.

🙆🏻‍♀️Imposter Syndrome – how it affects all of us, and 7 actions to help you overcome it. CEOs most deep-seated fear: ‘Being found to be incompetent.’ How it can create a workaholic and perfectionist mindset, shying away from asking for help and needing to know everything yet never knowing enough. Yep, tell me about it!


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is a newsletter about humans, technology and wellness. Rethinking how we live, work and play. Weekly curated tools for thought and ideas to share ✍️

Question or comment? nicci@niccitalbot.io
Enjoy the read? Share it on TwitterI run on caffeine and Amaretti biscuits.
Want to be featured? Book a Classified ad. I’d rather promote your products and services first.

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 🌍

Categories
Creator economy future of work remote working writing

Geriatric Millennials + your digital body language 🤔

Ever heard of geriatric millennials? This Medium article explaining the term went viral last week and hit the headlines. It says kids born between 1980-85 are ‘best positioned to lead teams that will thrive in the hybrid workplace’. They spent their formative years on both sides of the analogue and digital divide, and have a crucial role in helping bridge the gap between ‘digital adaptors’ and ‘digital natives’. 

There was internet outrage – we like to fight about labels. Some people had fun with it, adding #geratricmillennial to their handle and asking about discounts. Others were offended by the term and suggested a name change. Can we have a sexier name? How about Elder Millennials or Xennials? I find that a bit sad. If we don’t like the term geriatric, we need to rethink how we view older people.  

Of course, labels are silly – a marketing ploy to put us in boxes and sell us stuff, but the argument she’s making is right. ‘The speed of technological adoption makes it wrong to see an entire generation (spanning almost a 20-year difference) as being the same.’ Geriatric Millennials straddle the digital-adapter-native divide and are often able to live in two worlds – they are comfortable with both communication styles. 

Age plays a partial role. We’re individuals – there are ‘Millennials’ who hate Zoom and love their phones and ‘Gen Xers’ like me who don’t answer calls and prefer texting and Slack. It shows the benefits of having a diverse team – we can all learn from each other. 

Anyway, great PR by Erica Dhawan, who wrote the article to promote her new book, Digital Body Language. She used a provocative term to spark conversation, identifies as a geriatric millennial and explains why they’re great. 

Erica spent over 10 years investigating, researching and finding new ways to encourage collaboration and communication at work. She grew up as an immigrant in America – caught between two cultures, and says we’re all digital immigrants now. She wanted to write ‘a nuts and bolts rulebook for clear communication in the digital age. Our shiny new tools are causing issues, and most of us speak badly in this world.’ 

I’ve been listening to the audiobook – lots of funny stories, anecdotes and practical advice, and it’s made me think about my digital behaviour. I think I’m doing my colleagues a favour with my short and snappy emails, but maybe they’re perceived as cold and distant. I still have an urge to multitask while on Zoom. Does it look like I’ve checked out when I look down at my phone during meetings or when I turn the camera off? ‘You’re a black square in the corner…’ 

I had a boss who told me off via email for not responding to my colleagues’ emails. I thought about it for a bit and wrote back in my defence i.e. of course, I’ll reply, there are lots of emails flying back and forth, I can’t work out of my inbox, I wouldn’t get any work done etc. I signed off with NNR – no need to reply (one of Erica’s recommendations) which went down like a lead balloon. I got an email back saying ‘I’m not going to respond to that.’ Cultural differences 😉

Great tips on how to model digital body language for your teams, inclusive language, digital empathy, how to enhance customer experience through words, gender differences in language, and emoji as the universal language. Her top tips? We need to slow down, assume the best intentions from people, think about how we make them feel, and put ourselves in their shoes. 

And a great lesson in resilience. Publishers told her the book was too niche, but its time has come – it was #3 on the WSJ Bestseller list 👏

As Seth Godin says, it’s a salve for exhausted Zoomers. 


We write the talk, not talk the talk in 2021 

Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture says the way you write your emails can make or break your career. The best investment you can make is to develop one overlooked skill: written communication.

What’s the greatest advice I give? Develop excellent communication skills. Both in-person and in writing, such as when using email.

An employee, even a very junior person, if they can articulately summarize a meeting, if they can put together a presentation and even emails that are really salient and to the point, they are so valued.

Even more relevant given face to face communication is on the decline, remote work on the rise, and we’re spending more time alone, staring at our screens.

Mildly terrifying to think about how traditional body language is being shaped by our digital body language. What digital behaviours will we carry over in this new hybrid world? Will we be speaking in bullet points? Avoiding eye contact and sitting two metres apart in meetings? It’s a new frontier! 

A bit sad to read that unscheduled calls are perceived as intrusive and ‘as far as booking sales meetings were concerned, it seemed that the strategy with the least human interaction [setting up meetings via Calendly] delivered the most success.’ Where does this leave us? Loneliness is an epidemic and we have an empathy crisis. A YouGov poll found 30% of millennials said they always or often feel lonely, compared to 20% of Generation X and just 15% of baby boomers. It doesn’t ask why – but previous studies show social media and internet addiction play a part. 

A phone call is worth a thousand emails – and it’s becoming an obsolete art! We need a new ad campaign. As Bob Hoskins said, it’s good to talk. 


Photo by Alain Pham on Unsplash

👋 The Zoom wave

I can’t resist the urge to wave at the end of Zoom calls – glad to see I’m not alone. ‘I have never felt the need to wave in person,’ Kennedy, 36, the chief communications and marketing officer for the city of Olathe, Kansas, said. ‘What am I doing?’ Apparently, it’s a good thing. I’m not socially inept. 


Tools + resources →

📹 Erica’s Podcast interview with Rohit Bhargava: How to communicate with digital body language

🙇🏻‍♀️ Digital Body Language course

Hilarious thread from Danielle Rene on your favourite phrases to use in a professional clap back – those passive-aggressive emails. 

  • Just a gentle reminder
  • As we discussed previously (See attached email)…
  • lmao nothing is more passive-aggressive than “PLEASE ADVISE…”
  • If I’m feeling Big Petty I’ll hit them with… I’m not sure where your confusion comes from, but allow me to clarify..
  • Thank You in advance for your prompt response. I look forward to hearing from you.
  • Subject line: ‘Friendly reminder’

Vyv Evans on why emoji is the universal language. And it’s making us better communicators 😍

James Clear on writing as leadership at scale

A new WHO study finds working over 55 hours per week is considered a ‘serious health hazard’ 


Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Playlist of the week →

9 essential podcasts for remote workers, managers + teams


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is a weekly newsletter celebrating writing, good design, creativity, flexible working, growth, travel, and online communities. If you enjoy the content, please share it with friends.

Work Better. Live Smarter. Be Happier.

Question or comment? Email nicci@niccitalbot.io.
Was this helpful? I’m powered by caffeine and Amaretti biscuits.
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Categories
digital nomads future of work remote working Smart Villages

The new Smart Villages – can you really get paid to freelance in Italy? 🇮🇹

Here’s to the new smart villages in Italy.🍷 🇮🇹 A number of towns have launched travel incentives – and will pay you to work from there.

Santa Fiora in Tuscany (the city of water and music) and Rieti in Lazio are both offering to cover up to 50% of your rent if you stay between two and six months as a remote worker.

Local rents are pretty cheap – €300-500 per month, so you could be paying around €150 a month to rent a cosy cottage or apartment in a beautiful village this summer.

Santa Fiora’s mayor, Federico Baloccchi, told CNN:

It’s not targeted at occasional touch-and-go tourists, but people who really want to experiment with our village life.

The goal is to incentivise people to move in and virtually work from here. We want Santa Fiora to become their flexible office.

It’s part of a 10-year development plan to revitalise rural areas which ‘is now more like 10 days [thanks to Covid] so we’re getting on with it.’ Phase one focuses on connectivity and tech and getting workers and firms in – to capitalise on the trend of people wanting space and moving out of urban centres.

And if you fall in love and decide to invest in tourism there, they’ll give you up to €30,000 to open a B&B, hostel or hotel.

I asked about eligibility for freelancers, age/earnings cap etc and ‘it is open to anyone in possession of a smart work job’. Pensioners welcome 😉 as long as you can show you’re working as an online consultant or indie contractor.

A great way to dip your toe in the water and test out Smart Village life.

What do you think, Mac? Could be fun and frothy 🐶 Feasting on roasted chestnuts and Montecucco wine.

Sea you there?

Apply here → Santa Fiora Turismo.

Other places to work different → Visit Tuscany.

Santa Fiora, Tuscany

Remote worker visas and opportunities →

Fueling the future of location-flexible work.

Antigua + Barbuda → Nomad Digital Residence for up to two years. 365 beaches in a year?

Barbados → Work from paradise. 12 month Barbados Welcome Stamp.

Bermuda a slightly more affordable one year Work from Bermuda visa. No minimum income requirement.

Cayman Islands Dreaming of a Cayman?Global Citizen Certificate for up to two years (if you make $100k)

Costa Rica Freelancer visa called the Rentista for up to two years.

Croatia → One year digital nomad visa. Currently hosting their first ‘Digital Nomad in Residence’ competition. 10 nomads will present how Dubrovnik can be a ‘digital nomad friendly city.’

Canary Islands → Launched a €500,000 campaign to lure 30,000 remote workers to the islands over the next five years: The office with the world’s best climate.

Dubai → one-year virtual working programme (and bring your family).

Estonia The first country to offer a digital nomad visa for remote workers.

Georgia Work Remotely from Georgia and be part of your own wallpaper.

Iceland new digital nomad visa for high earners to stay for up to six months.

Indonesia Planning a turbo-charged five-year visa for the wealthy ‘which could be beneficial to digital nomads.’

Madeira a new Digital Nomad Village for minimum one-month stays. Portugal also has a residence permit for indie workers and entrepreneurs.

Mauritius → a renewable one year premium visa for nomads (no fee!) 😍

Thailand Looking to overhaul its Smart Visa to allow digital nomads to remain in the Kingdom for up to four years without a work permit.

Interesting huh. Many more nations will follow suit and compete for citizens as Japanese technologist Tsugio Makimoto predicted 20 years ago – and he digs into the microelectronics and products that enable nomadism.


Can you still buy a house in Italy for €1?

Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

Technically, yes – but the houses are put to auction where people can bid on them. Some sell for €1, the average €5,000 – & then you have to pay for the renovations (say €20,000) within three years.

Rubia Daniels was one of the first to buy a bargain-priced house in Mussomeli, Sicily, in 2019 and bought two more for her children. So far, she’s helped 20 people buy homes out there and hopes to take another group in June. She didn’t intend to buy that many houses, but ‘it’s how the people make you feel that makes you say, ok, I’ll buy three.’

Already 100 people have bought a house, what are you waiting for? – Case1euro.it

Not for the faint-hearted but a hugely rewarding project – an investment in yourself, your family, and a new business opportunity (and I’ve seen €1 houses in France and Croatia too).

Here’s how it works.

1 Euro Houses Italy map


London Writers’ Salon: The future of newsletters & publishing w/Substack’s Hamish McKenzie →

Photo by Nicci Talbot

London Writers’ Salon spoke to Hamish McKenzie about his writing, the future of journalism and being co-founder of a tech startup, Substack.

Great brain food 🧠 Raw, revealing and honest – he’s no tech bro. Appreciate his vulnerability on his burnout at Tesla – engineers picking over his work, his confidence took a hit and it took him a while to come back. On the stresses of being a founder, which he describes as ‘psychological torture’. The Substack soap opera rolls on – their employees have had online abuse.

He comes across as someone who cares deeply about the future of writing and wants to create a thriving ecosystem for media based on a trusted relationship between reader & writer – rather than clickbait.

Substack is here to give the media ecosystem more options, not replace it.

He looked exhausted (it was 6 am in Wellington) and needs a break. I wanted to give him a big hug! So 👏 to Matt and Parul for a sensitive interview and giving him space to relax and open up. Refreshing for him to be asked about his writing journey and challenges rather than how to support everyone else’s.

On what writers can learn from startup culture

Put something out there, get feedback, tweak, adjust, don’t give up! Nothing important is ever easy or worth doing – stay focused.

It’s not self-promotion but giving yourself a promotion. Find the joy in marketing. You can’t be of service to this world if people don’t know you exist.

🔥People & Company is joining the Substack team to work on community upstart efforts for writers in its network. Spark the flame, stoke the fire, and pass the torch.

Watch it here. From menopause to McDonald’s: all topics are fair game at London Writers’ Salon, and they’ve built a brilliant online community. Join their Writers’ Hour Daily Writing Sprints.


Journeys In Sound →

Music was my first love by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Playlist of the week: John Grant


Featured Collection: The Mind at Work by Dropbox

This is your mind at work


Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Tools + resources →

✍️How to open up and create better work: An introvert’s guide to a more collaborative writing process. ‘As a UX writer, sharing early saves me time and breeds creativity.’

💡Hybrid vs remote work: everyone’s looking at big tech to see what they do next, but they’re all making it up on the fly. If you’re considering your options, here’s an open source resource that shows what firms are doing – thanks to Andy for sharing.

🚢Build an online writing habit in 30 days. Redefining the meaning of online community, Substack take note! Writing alone is hard; writing with a community is easier. Love this concept – thanks to Lauren for the tip-off.

🌵Burnout in Tech – Part 1: Declaring war. Actionable steps to fight it for yourself and others.

💰Twitter is rolling out a new tip jar feature to help you get paid for your tweets.

Happy hugging and café working! 🤗


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is a weekly newsletter celebrating writing, good design, creativity, flexible working, growth, travel, and online communities. If you enjoy the content, please like it and share with friends. Thanks for reading!

Work Better. Live Smarter. Be Happier.

Question or comment? Email nicci@niccitalbot.io.
Was this helpful? I’m powered by caffeine and Amaretti biscuits.
You can listen to this post here.

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.

Categories
Design Thinking future of work journalism

🕵🏻‍♀️ Exploring the future of journalism

How we can use Design Thinking to solve journalistic problems.

I’ve been to a few journalism events this week on the industry’s future and what needs to change.

NUJ Racism and the Media special meeting, Freelance Industrial Council, and the #buildbackwellDEN Spring ’21 meeting. 

Common themes: Digital transformation, reinvention, diversity, resilience, burnout and mental health.

There was a backlash to the Society of Editors’ bizarre statement denying press racism in the UK. Press Gazette did a survey which shows there’s still much work to do. NUJ Black Members’ Council made a statement about what we can learn from the Meghan Markle race debate saying how the industry should have used the comments made by Meghan and Harry to start a long-overdue debate about the best way to prevent racist coverage.  

We heard some shocking stories about racism in the media and how the media has a problem pigeonholing journalists of colour. Editors want pitches related to race and lived experiences, giving little space for journalists to explore other topics. 

Lack of diversity in newsrooms was the biggest issue flagged. It’s not so much a problem with recruitment, but retention – if the work culture isn’t diverse and welcoming, people won’t hang around. Depressing to hear stories of endemic racism in our media corporations and comments like: ‘Sometimes the only way to break out [of the box you’re put in] is to leave and come back in through another door.’

Look out for the full report on londonfreelance.org.


Do freelance rates discriminate?

We have some new data on gender, ethnicity and rates. Thanks to the #FreelancerPayGap initiative LFB has added over 1,000 Rates for the Job with info on ethnicity as well as gender. We have a gender pay gap and an ethnic pay gap. In this data set, women are getting less than men and people who don’t identify as ‘white’ are getting less than those who do.

We all need to step up. Sharing rates and being transparent about pay will help to dismantle the gender pay gap. You can submit your Rate for the Job here and via the #FreelancerPayGap. I’ve seen similar campaigns for advertising and publishing. 


#buildbackwellDEN (Digital Editors’ Network) 

UX Indonesia on Unsplash

More than 70 colleagues from across 12 time zones came to the DEN event – a 90-minute, interactive discussion on how we can build back well. It focused on three areas: PEOPLE, PROCESS and PRODUCT.

The aim is to co-create an agenda to take back to decision-makers so it’s not just a talking shop (there’s a working document).

Excellent speakers and breakout sessions to brainstorm ideas.

The Chatham House Rule means I can share information about the discussion but not identify anyone or attribute quotes. This is so people can speak freely.

Key points: 

– Flying the flag for freelancers. The fastest-growing sector of the industry. Will we all burn out? Is that where this is heading? Is there any research on freelancers and burnout, and where do we go?

– No more siloed working. Newsrooms and publications need to build a better relationship with freelancers and be more inclusive. Freelancers need to be paid fairly – more transparency around pay rates.  

– We need a database of freelancers showing who’s available, their background and what they can do. To help speed up the commissioning process and encourage collaboration. Databases like this exist within organisations, e.g. the BBC has a portal, but there’s nothing that can be accessed by the wider industry.

– What companies are doing to prevent burnout – training people up on mental health, working on user-generated content, creating intranets about COVID as a resource for staff, and enforcing wellbeing policies.

– How Design Thinking can transform journalism. Never thought I’d hear Design Thinking, empathy and journalism in the same sentence 😉 Exciting! I’m reading a lot about Design Thinking on my UX course – here’s a nice intro.

Newsrooms need to take a more holistic approach with human-centred storytelling and understand what people need before creating a story/product. How much do you know about your readers? Involve them in the creation process. 

– Soft skills vs hard skills: The importance of listening and empathy. The emphasis on hard skills in journalism is why I haven’t felt comfortable in it. It’s as though being argumentative, pushy and loud somehow makes you a better journalist. I did some subbing shifts on the nationals a few years ago – no women on the team, a hard-drinking culture and long working hours. A work culture that would exclude many.

Well done, DEN. An inspiring discussion and lots to think about. Feels like I’m heading in the right direction with the UX training – and I can see why I’m attracted to it.

I can combine my UX work with journalism to create better media products.

Check out the speakers and feel free to send in ideas for future DEN events.

Enjoyed this article by Rasmus Kleis Neilson, Director at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, on the vanguard and rearguards in the fight for the future of journalism. The tension between those who embrace change and those who want things to stay the same.

The vanguard is full of women and more diverse. The rearguard full of white men like me.

This mindset will continue to undermine journalism’s ability to adapt, remake, and renew itself, and the profession as a whole, especially younger journalists, will have to live with the consequences of this conservatism.

Rasmus Kleis Neilson

Go deeper 🛠

World Press Trends Outlook 2021: Digital transformation in the driver’s seat. Nearly 60% of publishers say staff will either WFH or have the option to WFH going forward. Only 5% expect to move everyone back to the office. 

Content is Product and Product is Content: Why deeper alignment is the only way forward. Dmitry Shiskin on why it’s time to start treating content and product as one. They are slowly merging into one thing. 

People pay for other media, but they won’t pay for journalism (Heather Bryant).

The idea that the user experience of the delivered product of most journalism is anywhere near the quality of any of other media is in many cases a delusion of grandeur. 👏

Facebook is Starting a Substack Competitor (Nieman Lab) – Facebook to pay $5 million to local journalists in news push. They’ve pledged to invest $1 billion in the news industry over the next five years. Be interesting to see what happens – Facebook has strong community groups.

Substack says, bring it on! 

Listen up! #FutureMediaPodcasts roundup 🎧

Why journalists NEED to be researchers (Shirish Kulkarni) – on how journalism can apply Design Thinking principles to tell better stories.

Most of our news is presented ‘top down’ – do we actually want something ‘bottom up’ where communities are more involved in telling their own stories? 

How to use design thinking to solve journalistic problems (newsrewired.com)

Freelancer Magazine – well done to the team for getting this out, an inspiring read 🙌 Get your copy here.

Freelance Business for Writers, 3-4 June 2021. Free online event for freelance copywriters, editors, journalists and translators. Speaker callout🎙

Global Freelancing – take the survey. ‘The goal is to understand the experience of freelancing during the pandemic and looking ahead at the future of work.’


This month, I’ve been… Building backlinks 🔗

I wrote an article on how to build backlinks. What they are, why you need them, and how they’ll help your business.👇

Google has over 200 factors that determine your site ranking, and number one is backlinks. 

Link building is an art and science, creative and analytical. It involves detective work, psychology, tools and relationship building.

I’ve done a few things so let’s see if my Google ranking improves.

Happy link building! 


LINE OF DUTY

Ted Hastings. A man of principle. He can’t retire!

Will we find out who H is…? Not long till I get my fix…

Categories
digital nomads future of work technology UX writing

🕵🏻‍♀️Coming out of lockdown, Digital skills training, UX jobs

✂️ 🍺 🌞 Step two of the roadmap – life!! Lots of smiling faces in Hastings old town – pub gardens are packed, caravan parks full. I’m not ready for crowds yet but I’ve been out walking lots and did a bit of shopping in TK Maxx – the vast warehouse. ‘It was chaos for three days. People were elbowing each other out of the way; it wasn’t pleasant.’ People are spending all day in there, just to get out of the house.

They need a coffee bar and a loo and it’s a proper leisure attraction.

I’ve booked a haircut with Andrew Scissorhands, so he’s coming round to the flat in May. After working in London for 30 years as a stylist, he’s been wooed by the fabulous vibe in Hastings and St Leonards and set up his own salon here – currently ‘haircuts at home or on the beach’ – tagline: ‘A fraction of Harrods in Hastings’. He’s also working with the Seaview Centre, a fabulous homeless charity in St Leonards. 

Can he make an ancient monument look respectable? We’ll see. I didn’t do a great job with the kitchen scissors.

The mass exodus from London to Hastings continues.


UX Writers Collective

I’ve started the UX writer training. I’ve been dithering for a while as I’m not sure I want to do it full time, but I’m ready for a change. I’ve lost my enthusiasm for sales copy and social media marketing and want to niche down and do deeper work. I had a breakthrough last week with my therapist (who has now become my work accountability coach) and realise it’s ok not to know where it’s all going. Retraining doesn’t mean giving up everything I’ve done so far. I’m a bit scared I might not enjoy it or be any good at it.

But I won’t know till I try and take on some new projects.

UX writing (user experience) is a new growth industry. Lots of innovation and opportunity, and people are coming to it from all walks of life – I’ve met former journos, customer service agents, and copywriters who are moving into tech. The vibe is inclusive, generous, encouraging, and collaborative—no egos which is refreshing. The course is online and self-paced, so I can fit it in around client work. If I do an hour a week, I’ll be certified in 8-10 weeks (if I crack the final assignment, which is hard).

Thoughts so far – it’s harder to write less. UX is more about research and content strategy with a focus on the user. It’s making me think more about accessibility, collaboration and design thinking – taking a holistic approach to content. Unlike copywriting, it’s not the sort of work you do in a silo, so that will be good for me – I’ll have to speak to people. I need to learn a few design packages – Miro, Figma, and basic HTML/coding.

I’m doing a bit of networking – joined the Content + UX Slack group, did the UX Writers conference, and will check out some local meetups when they restart. I’ve signed up for the Daily UX Writing Challenge to do some practice work for my portfolio and paid for a Medium subscription – $50 a year and well worth it – lots of great articles on writing + design. I’m making a little on there via the Partner program.

Lots of books to read – I bought Marie-Pier Rochon’s book on UX writing – she’s a copywriter in Brisbane who has moved into UX, so it’s interesting to read her story and perspective on the industry.

What do I want? A gig with a remote-first company where I can be a corporate nomad and slowmad when I’m an empty nester. My place in the sun – running remote retreats. It’s exciting to see the visa and tax incentives coming in for remote workers: the
CanariesItaly, the Caribbean, Croatia & more. My mission is to create useful digital products people love to use that make them feel good about themselves. And to help more women and girls get into tech, scale their online businesses, and develop digital skills.

I’ve followed up with Plumia (Safety Wing) – an ambitious project to build the first country on the internet, infrastructure for living anywhere, with the function of a geographic country. They are looking for leaders and contributors in remote work and nomadic space. Interested? You can check it out here.  

Anyway, I need to be kind and patient with myself. Learning new skills and changing careers takes time.

I had an interview this week for a UX writer gig at a design agency – great to get that far. An informal chat to see if we’re a good fit and find out what I’m looking for. They have some fascinating projects on the go – AI & healthcare – interface design for live surgery, remote banking advisors, travel apps and more. The next step would be a formal interview and test – I need a few more projects in my portfolio to talk through. I’ve heard interviews for UX can be tough – you need to show your strategy, iterative thinking, and how you solved the problem.  

I’ve also been thinking about my process and how I work. Social media marketing is fun but distracting – I find myself going down rabbit holes online and there’s a lot of crap and negativity on Twitter. I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time and use my time more efficiently – batch tasks, themed days. I save interesting articles on Instapaper to read later and check RSS feeds via Feedly on my phone rather than reading websites, to save time.

💡 More agile working and sprints
👩‍💻 Periods of focus and concentration
🚶🏻‍♀️A shorter working week

I tried taking two-hour lunch breaks, but it doesn’t work; stuff comes in, so I’m aiming for a four-day week with Fridays off. I felt so much better after a day in Hastings Country Park last week – Daily Huddle with the ponies and roosters, who gave me some solid advice.

Great tips in this thread from Andy Spence on what works better for him to maintain health and prevent burnout. 

Still waiting for my standing desk – in the meantime, I’m shuffling between the desk and mantlepiece to mix it up a bit. There’s something about standing up to work – ideas seem to flow better – so I’m trying to move about more during the day. We’re not designed to spend eight hours a day sitting at a desk.

I’ve made some more green friends – office jungle in progress…🌵🌿


Our digital lives in 2021  

Big shoutout to Romana Sustar and Helen Hague – the new training officers at NUJ London Freelance Branch, who are developing a cracking training programme. Great piece by Romy on our digital life in 2021, focusing on the digital revolution and learning more.

We’re exploring a collaboration with Google News Initiative – free tools and training for groups and individuals to save you time and help you bring your stories to life.

Coming up: Podcasting and WordPress courses with Hamish Brown and Rev Up Your Writing with Judi Goodwin – how to write faster, more fluently, and earn more. I need to speed up – it can be like pulling teeth. Email the training team if you fancy doing one (courses are open to non-members) or DM me on Twitter @NUJ_LFB.

And a free event on 29 April – ‘Building Back Well’ via the Digital Editors’ Network (thanks to John Crowley for sending this on). ‘We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to hit the reset button.’ What do newsrooms need to change to ‘build back well’? The aim is to co-create an agenda for decision-makers to consider – on people, processes, and products (some best practices to apply to your media business – Substack newsletter coming soon).

I’m thinking about what courses and digital products I could offer – what skills would you like to learn or do better? Newsletters? UX writing? Improving your online presence? Email me – nicci@niccitalbot.io.

– Nicci

Eat this. Breakfast BOMB and healthy snack. I love granola and the supermarket stuff is expensive – tastes great and I’m saving a fortune.


Go deeper 🛠

Bruce Daisley: ‘Almost without exception breakthroughs come from deep work’ (Enterprise Nation) – On what we can do to overcome our collective addiction to interruptions. And a shoutout to Paul Graham’s excellent Maker vs Manager schedule. 

Dell Technologies Turn Off, Tune In: a free virtual event to help small businesses recharge and burn brighter, 4-27 May. Nine inspiring, re-energising sessions designed to help you rest, recharge, and come back, ready to take on what’s next. You can register here

Ireland is planning a remote working push to shift city workers to rural areas (Financial Times). The government is seizing the opportunity offered by changing pandemic-era work habits to shift people from major cities to the rest of the country via a network of 400+ remote working hubs and tax breaks to address the longstanding rural-urban divide.

The biggest mistake we can make as we emerge from the pandemic is to go back to the old normal – Heather Humphreys, minister for rural and community development.

Enjoyed this article by LFB colleague Francesca Marchese, currently on mat leave and spending time with her family in Sicily: Etna: Life beneath the volcanic dust of repeated eruptions (BBC).

Our Digital Life in 2021, Romy Sustar (NUJ London Freelance) – on learning how to podcast, free online training opportunities with Google News Initiative, and upcoming workshops and events.

Getting started with the Medium Partner Program – great articles on writing, design + UX – it’s well worth the $50 membership fee to access unlimited articles and support creators. I’ve signed up for the Medium Partner Program to monetise my work – not earning megabucks, but it will build as I add more content.

We had a chat about AI & copywriting on Clubhouse last night – are the machines coming for us? Human qualities that machines can’t replicate. How we can use AI to improve our work and free up time. If devices are writing shorter text, news stories, and product descriptions – it reorients us towards long-form content, opinion, analysis, and investigation.

In summary: Don’t worry. Sex robots are here, but you wouldn’t have one as a partner. Read the notes here.

This LinkedIn post went viral – a contractor described his reaction to having a heart attack when working at home. ‘Fuck I needed to meet with my manager tomorrow; this isn’t convenient.’ And on reflection, how he is restructuring his approach to work because ‘life literally is too short.’

Some great advice in the comments – ‘try to create multiple streams of income at your own pace.’


Categories
digital nomads future of work remote working

A Day in the Life of Brittnee Bond, Founder, Remote Collective.

I believe all people should have access to remote work, and I intend to make this a reality.

Brittnee Bond, Founder, Remote Collective.

Thinking big 💡

I wake up, I meditate, I go swimming in the sea. I run, I do yoga, and then I sit down and start work.

I’m doing crypto investing right now and investigating blockchain, specifically to help women gain more financial freedom, so I’ll spend a couple of hours on calls with people and then I do a lot of community building. We build gardens, we help the local Thai people. So, there’s just constantly things happening.

But the first part of my day is like for me. For soul-building, for my creativity and then I do my work. And then I have time to give back to the community.

A day in the life of Brittnee Bond, Founder, Remote Collective – the latest video in Hoxby’s Workstyle Stories Live: a series of real-life stories that showcase the transformative power of workstyle. Brittnee is a remote work consultant and a coach for women entrepreneurs, currently based on Ko Pha Ngan, a tiny island in Thailand.

Pre-remote, she worked as a Paralegal in Intellectual Property law for six years.

An hour on the train each way every day, work for 8-9 hours, and that was my life.

Was it like Suits, the TV show? A stressful work culture with long hours and corporate tension?

Yeah, I would say it’s creepily accurate. My friends loved watching that Suits show, and I’m like, I can’t watch that, that’s my everyday life. Sometimes they would even have places at the office where you could sleep, just so you would keep working. It was really bad.

What was the dealbreaker?

I always wanted to work remotely. Even when I graduated high school and into university. That was my thing. I wanted to help people and make an impact, but I wanted to have my own freedom.

She worked as an internal consultant for three law firms helping them to go paperless and getting the systems in place to work remotely. She made herself indispensable and kept going, creating opportunities to build the workstyle she wanted.

The third firm let her work remotely and live in Costa Rica – the start of her remote working adventure.

It worked perfectly, her KPIs were off the charts and she proved she could do it. But after six months they wanted her back in the office.

The culture within the legal field, it’s too traditional for me, I can’t handle it. They were willing to let me work remotely because I’d helped them so much, and then the attitude was like, okay, we gave you your six months, and now you need to come back to the office and work for the rest of your life for us. And I was like, I can’t do this.

It was 2014, and this is like, old white men in suits, you know. They didn’t even like the idea of me being seen near the beach when they had to be in the office.

Professional jealousy, maybe?

She quit her job to do other things, first setting up a travel company to help pay her way, and then consulting for large corporates in Asia, based in Kuala Lumpur, flying out to a different country each month, and helping them to run their companies. There weren’t that many people with her business background in Asia at the time, so everyone wanted to work with her, and her workstyle was negotiable. She could start building her own projects and had a big mindset shift…

I am good. I don’t need to prove to myself anymore that I’m successful. And I also really, really wanted to help women.

So she started consulting companies to go remote.

So many companies are just trying to meet their KPIs and make a profit, and they don’t have the time or emotional energy to transition to remote, so I was like, I can step in and help. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years.

Lots of takeaways here – she quit!! Thinking about where we’re at now – after a year of working at home – employers need to create a situation remotely for their top talent, an environment where they can thrive, so they don’t lose people. The law firms she worked with had an opportunity to think differently and mark themselves out as trailblazers: ‘The first paperless law firm with remote workers’ – that would have been great PR, but they didn’t see it that way – trust was an issue.

People want flexibility, freedom, and autonomy at work – give them that, and they will give you their best.

I also love what she has to say about mindset and money after raising capital for her ventures.

There’s so much money out there in the world. I want you to be able to access that money. So if you have questions about how to raise money… how to find the shared audience, please reach out to me because this is the stuff I live for, especially for women entrepreneurs, because I think so many women don’t realise how much money there is out there. We feel like we almost need to be given permission to even go after that money.

I’m giving you all the permission in the world right now that this is your time to shine, and I want to help you do that, if anything, just to root you on.

An inspiring story on evolving your work to enable your travel, escaping the bureaucracy of corporate culture, and creating a life you love.


🙌 The Hoxby Way 

I’ve renewed my passport with Hoxby to stay in the community for another year. They’ve introduced The Hoxby Way, a new way of doing business that will help them collaborate more closely as a community. They are merging their ‘core’ and Business Units into a single organisational structure made up of 10 functions with an MD for each, in response to feedback that things can feel a bit siloed. Good stuff. The goal is to continue to grow the community and create 30% more work for their consultants.

There are lots of questions, comments, and enthusiastic emojis flying around on the Slack channel, so it will be interesting to see how this develops and what new projects come in.

You can join the Workstyle Revolution community on Mighty Networks. It’s open to everyone who believes in what they are trying to achieve including those outside Hoxby.

Our goal is to replace the traditional 9-5 system with workstyle, fitting work around life and not the other way around.


Go deeper 🛠

🚀 Brittnee Bond on the future of remote working, getting into blockchain and launching the Women’s Circle Mastermind (Remote Collective).

👨🏽‍💻 The Rise of Working From Home (The Economist). The shift to remote working has gone better than expected. People are working longer hours, but they report higher levels of happiness and productivity. On the pros and pitfalls of remote work, the rise in work-from-home technologies, and new laws regulating remote work.

💻 The Nowhere Office (Demos) – The first report from the Chair of the Demos Workshift Commission, Julia Hobsbawm, says that lessons learned from the pandemic should inform an entirely new way to approach work, workplace, working life and productivity. ‘Everyone wants jobs, but they want something else too: meaning. Work-life balance. In other words, a work shift.’

👩‍💻 After working at Google, I’ll never let myself love a job again(New York Times). A former software engineer at Google on learning the hard way that no publicly traded company is a family. On the upsides of remote work: ‘I took a role at a firm to which I felt no emotional attachment. I like my colleagues, but I’ve never met them in person.’ 

📅 Save the date: Hoxby will be chatting to Ali Green on 29 April about remote work, non-traditional career arrangements and building rural economies through location-independent work. You can sign up and join Ali Greene’s live Workstyle Story.


Welcome to my bookshop! 📚

I’ll be sharing books in my bag and recommended reads on Bookshop.org. They pay a 10% commission on every sale and give a matching 10% to local bookstores, an integral part of our culture and communities. I would be very happy if you make the odd purchase here.


🕵🏻‍♀️ Work with me 

Leopard print, always. Worry less and rock a red lip. Remote worker, problem solver, internet person.

💡 Something you want me to write about? Leave a comment or email nicci@niccitalbot.io

☕️ Has this helped you? Buy me a virtual coffee

📩 Subscribe to The Shift here

👋 Copy Club, 6 pm GMT, Saturdays on Clubhouse – drop in!