Categories
digital nomads future of work remote working

#44: 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!

Categories
Freelancing future of work remote working

#43: How to Thrive as a Soloist

Thinking big 💡

This month, Bruce Daisley ran a Twitter Spaces chat: Has the Work Culture Myth Been Busted? Rebecca Seal (author of Solo) made a point about offices that set his pulse racing (I can totally relate to this): 

Rebecca Seal, via Bruce Daisley

We mustn’t let the conversation about the future of work be dominated by loud, white male CEOs or by poorly worded staff surveys. If we sleepwalk back into the old ways, we will miss the moment of a generation, the chance to make work equitable and to design it in a way that puts human lives at the centre.

Bruce has written about it here: Offices are a Battlefront for Equality – a call to action to embrace new ways of working that are productive, fair for all and will transform the lives of millions, i.e. women, 50% of the population, many of whom have quit the workforce over the past year as they can’t juggle the demands of work and childcare. I talked about this in an earlier post on the Double X economy by Linda Scott. 

Bring it on! The juggling act between work and childcare is nothing new, but I hope we can learn from the past year and take the opportunity to reset work cultures and fix the barriers holding women back at work. We all need to step up. You can start by connecting with Rebecca here

I didn’t quit the workforce when I had Julieta but was self-employed so had no proper maternity leave. I stepped up the freelancing to keep my career going while my partner commuted to London at 5 am every day. And later, as a single parent living miles away from my family, it’s been the only way I can operate. I’ve been working this way for 15 years and remote working suits me, but there was no other option while she was young. I’m not alone. As the rise of Mumsnet, Netmums, Digital Mums, and ‘mumpreneur’ culture shows.

I’m half-way through Solo, and it’s an inspiring read, the next step along from the freelancer bibles. Less of the practicalities and more about the way you work. How to work well in isolation and how to thrive as a soloist. She’s taken the best ideas in psychology, economics, social sciences to help you stay resilient, productive, and focused in your company of one. She also explores the idea of meaningful work. Her inspiration came from not being able to find a book which answered her question: if I’m doing what I’m supposed to love, why am I sometimes so unhappy?

We are not farming a hot and dusty hillside 7,000 years ago. We are not Victorian labourers. We can do what they were denied. More than any other group of workers, soloists have the opportunity to change things for the better.

Rebecca Seal

AND: this new report from Demos think tank is along the same lines: a call to action about using the lessons learned from Covid to campaign for a new way to approach work, working life, the workplace, and productivity. The rise of The Nowhere Office, where work is based on outcomes not hours worked. 


End of lockdown review 

I’ve been thinking about the people and things that have helped me through the past year. I did a quarterly review this week – helps to get the fire in my belly – and wrote a plan. As Darren Murph, Head of Remote, Gitlab, says, ‘Documenting everything solidifies a remote company.’ ‘It’s the most valuable skill in tech’, says Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield. 

I started by making a list of all the things I’ve achieved this year. What has energised me? What has drained me? Financial wins? What impact has my work had? What new services, products, and packages have I launched? What skills have I learned?

Then a deeper dive into how I make my money. Other ways I can make money. New offers, promotions, raising prices. What’s not working? What systems do I need to have in place? What am I putting off, and why? Thinking about mindset, physical health, hours worked, and social networks. What habits have I created? (apparently, it takes 66 days to build a new habit). What are my flow activities? What can I automate or stop doing? 

I spent a couple of hours on this, so it’s a long list. The next step is to create a vision – 5-6 things I want to achieve. Then choose the top three for the next three months and make them specific. Break them down into 12 weeks steps – one action per week – and get them in the calendar. 

I’ve used the FAST framework for goals – frequently discussed, ambitious, specific, and transparent. They may change, but it’s good to have things written down. I’ll try to do this every quarter.

Changes I’m making: Working less (‘one piece of research surveying 1,000 freelancers suggests because self-employed people take fewer holidays and tend to consider themselves on duty for longer each day than employees do, we work up to 65 hours per week’). My core hours are 8 am – 1 pm then a two-hour break to go for a walk (been inspired by Sabatigo’s Wonder Walks to explore entrepreneurship.) People are refitting shops, selling fresh fish, takeaway breakfasts, street markets, making street art. Someone has built a Rent A Pod in their garden for hire by the hour for work or dinner.

I’m still plugged in, however, so I need to challenge myself to go for walks without my phone. 

Back by 3 pm for admin/emails/calls till 5 pm finish. Having this routine has helped with boundaries, and I’m more productive with time constraints. The old adage: work expands to fill the allotted hours (and more). I do a lot via my phone which means I’m always on, and it’s easy for work to spill over into the evening.

I’ve booked a week off over Easter and will redesign my studio. I’ve bought a Freedesk desk riser so I can stand for a couple of hours a day – ‘sitting is the new smoking.’ ‘It’s been out of stock since November, so I think it speaks for itself.’ I’ve become a plant parent – getting into biophilic design in the workplace and bought some nature art – I’m happiest out walking so let’s bring nature inside. I bought a Stanford map of the world – sticking pins in it to mark where I’ve been and want to go. A remote retreat this summer, and a city break later in the year.

I had my first residents’ meeting at the House of Beautiful Business. A mime artist, DJ, update on House Work, and 1-1 Zoom chats with other members. I met a human rights consultant and a humane branding consultant, both based in Berlin. Waleria also teaches Conscious Connected Breathing so got me on to that. I’ve been doing this exercise every morning and it’s transformed my day. Less shoulder pain from desk work since I started doing it. 

What’s your lockdown takeaway? 🍕 🍛 🍣 How’s it been for you, and what changes are you making this year? 

Mine’s an Indian – anything with panini. Julieta’s is a chocolate pizza.

Never eat more chocolate than you can lift.

Back in two weeks. 


Go deeper 🛠

📚 How to work alone – more about the book and some useful resources for soloists. Rebecca is also a food writer, so she knows what tastes good and what our bodies and brains need. I have her LEON Happy One-pot Cooking

🎧 The Solo Collective – a podcast for anyone who works alone, whether for yourself or by yourself, featuring experts and solo workers discussing topics like burnout, self-sabotage, mental health, and happiness at work. 

🌵 Green friends! How to incorporate biophilic interior design into your home.

💬 Bruce Daisley on why offices are a battlefront for equality

📌 Demos’ call to action: The Nowhere Office by Julia Hobsbawm. 


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 work evangelist, 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!

Categories
future of work remote working Social media technology

#40: A World Without Email

A World Without Email Reimagining Work in the Age of Overload (or the hyperactive hive mind

Email is making us miserable. By trying to be more efficient, we’ve accidentally deployed an inhumane way to work.

Cal Newport

Thinking big 💡

I have a love-hate relation with email. Love the convenience of it as a messaging tool but hate stuff piling up and having to go through it all. 

6083 in my personal Gmail account 😱 

Over half the world population uses email in 2021. The total number of business and personal emails sent and received per day will exceed 319 billion in 2021 and is forecast to grow to over 376 billion by 2025. Despite the growth of chat apps, we still use email, and you need an email address for most online activity. I spend most of my day in work inboxes – it’s where the magic happens – sign off, editing, documents because it’s faster and in real-time—the ping-pong game…like a slot machine. 

The overall feeling is low-level anxiety like my work is never done.

  • We check our emails every six minutes 
  • Knowledge workers receive and send an average of 126 emails every day 
  • We spend an average of three hours a day on email

A growing body of research on the effect of email suggests banning or putting restrictions on email can dramatically increase individual productivity and reduce stress. Companies have also taken action to reverse the trend. Thierry Breton, CEO of the French information tech company, Atos Origin, noticed his employees were distracted by constant emails, so he took steps to eliminate what he saw as adverse effects on productivity. In 2011, he announced he was banning email and wanted Atos to be a ‘zero email company within three years. 

We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives. We are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organisations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution.

Thierry Breton, CEO, Atos Origin

The solution was not to ban electronic communication outright for over 70,000 employees; instead, they built a social network organised around 7,500 open communities working on collaborative projects. Atos hasn’t got rid of email entirely but reduced it by 60%, increasing their margins and reducing administrative costs. 

The movement to protect leisure time is gaining ground. The EU parliament voted massively in favour last month of a resolution calling on the European Commission to propose a law allowing digital workers the ‘right to disconnect’ outside of work to reduce burnout. Research shows people who work from home are more than twice as likely to surpass the maximum of 48 working hours per week. And we’re putting in more hours since Covid – two a day on average.

A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in the Age of Overload

Penguin Books

Last Friday, The New Yorker published an excerpt from Cal Newport’s new book, A World Without Email. Cal, aka Mr Deep Work, is a Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University and the New York Times Bestselling author of seven books. 

The chapter focuses on an aspect of overload culture that isn’t talked about much – that email is making us miserable. The more time we spend emailing, the less happy and more stressed we become. What makes this a game-changer is that Cal is putting the onus on companies to make top-down changes rather than focusing on the individual as per earlier books. As Peter Drucker said back in the 70s, knowledge workers are autonomous, but only to a point.

As a freelancer, you can create your own systems and habits to manage information, but it’s not going to make much difference if your clients don’t work in the same way. 

The hyperactive hivemind 

Our workplaces are set up for convenience, not for getting the best out of us. We must be switched on to multitask with knowledge work, which doesn’t fit in with creative, deep thinking. Neuroscientists tell us our attention is single-tasked, and it’s not productive to switch from one task to another. This is making us miserable. 

It mismatches with the social circuits in our brain. It makes us feel bad that someone is waiting for us to reply to them. It makes us anxious.

Cal Newport

Cal describes this workstyle as the ‘hyperactive hivemind’ based around unstructured communications via email and IM and meetings that dominate our day. Email is fine for short communications as intended, but it’s a terrible knowledge management system. 

How do we tackle the hivemind and do our best work?

Cal says we need a more linear approach to workflow. Doing one task at a time to allow the brain to switch contexts – with fewer interruptions from email & IM. One study found (via BBC Worklifeon average, it takes us 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain a deep focus after an interruption

We can learn a lot from how software engineers operate – extreme programming, Scrum & Agile methodologies. Working on one product for a period of time and giving it your whole focus. A more intense, shorter day of deep work with no ad hoc tasks works better with how our brain operates. Try applying Sprint methodology to your creative work – pitches, ideas. 

Work on the productivity of the knowledge worker has barely begun. Globally, the world has more than 1 billion knowledge workers, so we’re well overdue for a rethink & revolution.

It’s coming!!

The next five years will see an insane amount of change and we’ll be embarrassed that we opted for ease over efficiency with email. There’s a lot of interest in getting rid of the hyperactive hivemind to produce higher quality products and services because money and productivity are on the line.

Companies that require their workers to be ever wired and working on multiple tasks will fall behind companies that prioritise more in-depth, slow creative work.

It’s a radical and bold vision – a world without email – that could make you happier and more productive. As Caroline Sauvajol-Rialland, the author of Infobesity, says, information overload is a cultural crisis.

There’s this great challenge of lundimanche that we must tackle, – the French portmanteau word for the blurring of Sunday into Monday. 

Caroline Sauvajol-Rialland

It’s time to change how we communicate at work. 

The advice 🤔

  • Use Calendly instead of emails to arrange meetings to reduce the back-and-forth comms.
  • Use shared project management tools like Trello, Dropbox or Flow to organise tasks and share links so your team know what you’re working on, can see status updates and add comments – it reduces the pressure on your inbox. 
  • Basecamp has ‘Office Hours’ – if someone has a technical question for a given expert, he or she can’t shoot an email and has to wait until the expert’s next office hours to ask a question.
  • Get rid of personal email addresses and have a team/project email so everyone can respond. 
  • Try Scrum/Agile methodology – combines working in intense sprints (1-4-week projects) with daily 15-minute standing meetings to get things done. Everyone gets a chance to speak and ask for help. Pin coloured notes to a board to show commitments, so there’s no ambiguity.

If it works for 12+ million software developers…

Go deeper 🕵🏻‍♀️

🎧 The James Altucher Show – A World Without Email with Cal Newport.

💻 The New Yorker: Email is Making Us Miserable and The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done.

📹 LinkedIn Live: Journey Further Book Club with Cal Newport – A World Without Email, March 16. 

📚 Under New Management by David Burkus – the companies outlawing or at least restricting email and getting more done.

🎤 National Union of Journalists event, March 8 – a chat with John Crowley, co-author of the Journalism in Time of Covid survey, on freelancing and mental health.

Guests welcome – email me!! if you’d like to come.  

Categories
future of work remote working technology

The future of work after Covid19 — get ready for big changes

McKinsey: Almost all new jobs will be higher paying after Covid, and many lower-paid workers will have to change careers. More focus on skills than job titles. Periodically reinvent yourself. Be a worker-learner.

Thinking big 💡

According to new research from McKinsey, the way you work post-pandemic will look very different from how you do it now. 152 pages of data-driven insights exploring the long-term impact of Covid on eight economies. What geographies will shift? Which industries will lose jobs, and what will expand?

I’ve read it all, so you don’t have to. I tripped over a paving stone out running and landed on my wrist. Aaaggghhh!! I haven’t been able to do much but read. I’ve combed through the exciting bits for independent workers, women, and working parents.

Ambition is hibernating, and people are sheltering in jobs.

Grateful to have a paycheque, too knackered to job hunt and staying put while the economy is slow. A large group (mostly white) in steady jobs. A smaller group (mostly black, Hispanic) are taking action, upskilling and looking to switch jobs. They have a strong desire to step up and go their own way. “I can do better if I set up my own business.” I’m seeing a lot of this on Clubhouse.

Remote work + virtual meetings

72% of companies are planning hybrid work post-pandemic and reimagining how work gets done. They’ve realised people enjoy having more time at home and are just as productive, if not more.

People are spending a lot of time on their computers by themselves, and that can be done from anywhere.

The UK has the highest potential amongst eight countries for remote work as business & financial services and computer-based office work represent a large share of its economy. Things we’re struggling to do remotely — making critical decisions, negotiation, onboarding, brainstorming and innovation.

How will offices change?

Office vacancy rates are increasing dramatically worldwide. If 20–30% of the workforce are working at home, companies will reduce their office footprint and set up satellite offices over time. They can broaden their talent pool and have a more diverse workforce in different places. Smaller cities and rural areas are coming up with incentives to attract remote workers. Tulsa, Oklahoma, offers those who relocate for at least a year $10,000 and access to co-working spaces. Hawaii has its Movers and Shakers programme, attracting remote workers with free airfare, discounted hotel rooms, and co-working spaces (some volunteer work required).

I’ve heard real estate experts talking on Clubhouse about the rise of co-working spaces with childcare facilities. Companies can also hit their climate change goals as “20% of business travel may never return” to be replaced by virtual meetings and conferences. After the 2008 crash, business travel took five years to recover compared to two years for leisure tourism.

Acceleration of automation and digital technologies

There’s a shift to digital channels, online apps and robotics. Amazon has added over 400,000 employees worldwide (warehouse workers, engineers & more) and grew its workforce by 50% in 2020 to meet online services’ demand.

Periodically reinvent yourself. Be a worker-learner

We’re seeing changes in hiring practices, focusing on skills, not academic degrees, which means increased diversity. Google, Hilton Hotels, Ernst & Young, & IBM have removed degree requirements from job postings to focus on skills. The importance of having a secondary skill — apprenticeships, coding boot camps. Plan on your career being varied — portfolio working, income diversity, & mentorship. “Periodically reinvent yourself.” Be a worker-learner and follow the markets — tech, pharma & business services are booming.

In Europe and the US, workers with less than a college degree, members of ethnic minority groups, and women are more likely to need to change occupations after Covid-19 than before.

Freelancers & contractors are ahead of the game as we’ve been doing remote project-based work for years — it feels like the rest of the world is finally catching up. The challenge is taking time off to invest in yourself, paying for training, and keeping it all going with no sick pay, holiday pay, and expensive childcare. Women still do the bulk of unpaid domestic work — even more so during the pandemic. And we’re all working longer hours during lockdown.

I’m training to be a UX Writer — not much of a thing 10 years ago and now in demand and well paid. It’s different from copywriting and content writing — more niche and focused on user experience, psychology, & empathy. Helping and guiding people online rather than selling to them. UX is one area of tech where women are well represented. Interesting to speak to two journos at the UX Writers Conference who have moved into tech:

UX writers get high off of UX writing in a way that marketing copy won’t ever do for them. And passion makes for great work. Yael Ben-David, Fundbox.

If I can make a council meeting interesting as a journalist, I can be a technical writer. John Collins, Atlassian Design.

As the report says, we’re in an age of specialists over generalists. Let’s see if I get high on it 😉

Better policy support for indie workers

Some innovative ideas, including income support programmes for worker-learners, relocation assistance, training grants (I’ve had them from my trade union, not the government). Increased minimum wages, reformed taxation, better internet infrastructure in rural areas, a national platform based reskilling pass (learning for life) as they have in Singapore, India, & EU countries. And permanent policies like portable benefits allowing indie workers to work across gig platforms while getting medical services & other benefits.

Governments could also consider extending benefits and protections to independent workers working to build their skills and knowledge mid-career.

The pay-off will be a more talented, resilient and better-paid workforce. The SEISS grant gave the self-employed the same protection as employees for the first time and it makes sense for governments to offer more benefits for indie workers over the long-term. Businesses will be using our skills to adapt. In a survey of 800 executives, 70% said they will hire more freelancers, post-pandemic.

Jobs of the future

3D printing engineer, robot repair technician, algorithm bias checker, office disinfector, chief medical officer, chief fun officer (had one write to me this week), smart home designer…Will AI take over copywriting?

Let AI give your marketing team some relief, say Phrasee. We’ll take care of stuff like email subject lines, push notifications, and social media posts — with human oversight, of course — while your team handles the more interesting stuff.

We still need humour and empathy in customer service. Robots just aren’t built to care — yet!! I did the Guardian Book Club with Margaret Attwood talking about her 2003 book Oryx and Crake.

“Will you ever retire?”

Odd question to ask, why would she?

“Writers don’t retire.”

Oryx and Crake is the bigger picture and explores what will happen when the BIG pandemic hits and begins wiping out the human race.

Covid is a trial run, so get ready.

The advice 🤔

Economist Linda Scott on how cultural assumptions hold back women’s economic potential — and some practical solutions that could liberate us:

By far the most effective thing the whole world can do to help include women is to provide, universal, affordable, high quality childcare. And the benefits to this are so enormous, it would pay for itself. We don’t even fully analyse what the benefits are. It would definitely pay for itself, especially in the western counties, there’s no excuse for not having it. We’ve known we need it for 50 years.

And now in the pandemic, we’re seeing in a very large way what it’s costing women but we’re ignoring what it’s costing the economies. On average, women contribute just under 40% of GDP and that’s being left on the table, at a time when we need to recover. And that’s insane.All over nature, but particularly among primates, the mothers are the providers. This is what mothers do. And it’s what we should let them do that rather than trying to stop them in their path.

The Double-X Economy: The Epic Power of Empowering Women

Go deeper 🕵🏻‍♀️

💻 McKinsey: The future of work after Covid19 — the pandemic has accelerated existing remote work trends, e-commerce and automation, with up to 25% more workers than previously estimated needing to switch occupations.

🛠 Is the CV dying? (This is Money) — not entirely, but it’s becoming less relevant to skills-based testing. “I think the future is answering questions, video clips, portfolios and presenting reasons why you want to work for the company.”

🕵🏼‍♂️ This went viral on Twitter: Chris Herd spoke to 2,000 companies over the last 12 months about their plans for remote work going forward.

🚘 Gig economy Uber drivers are ‘workers’ — what’s it mean for you? Analysis from the National Union of Journalists London Freelance team.

👩‍💻 How to manage a remote team — free training (starts this weekend) from Gitlab’s Head of Remote, Darren Murph and Jessica Reeder.

💪 TUC Women’s Conference ’21, 3–4 March. Inspirational speakers, thought-provoking discussions and engaging workshops. Tackling the issues affecting women at work. Book your free place.

I’ll be there!

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. Check it out here.

Work with me 🙋🏻‍♀️

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

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

☕️ Tips & large bank transfers welcome

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👋 Join Copy Club, 6 pm GMT, every Saturday on Clubhouse

Categories
future of work remote working technology

#37: Spotify’s Work-From-Anywhere Program; The Future of Remote Work on Big City Salaries

Thinking Big 💡

Last week, Spotify launched its new Work-From-Anywhere program, which allows its 5,584 (2020) employees to work ‘wherever they do their best thinking and creating’. They can choose to work in the office, remotely or in a co-working space that the company will pay for, and have to commit to one option for a year.

Spotify is following similar moves by other tech companies but will continue to pay San Francisco and New York salaries based on the type of job, unlike Facebook and Twitter who have said that salaries could be adjusted to align with the cost of living – i.e. potential pay cuts for those who move away from HQ. Location-based pay seems counterproductive and will damage morale. Does it matter where people are living if they are expected to deliver similar results?

Here’s Travis Robinson, Spotify’s Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, on the thinking behind the decision and how it will help promote work-life integration, happiness and inclusion (Business Insider).

This is an opportunity to shape the idea that big cities are the only places where meaningful work can happen because we know first-hand that isn’t true. We want employees to come as they are, whatever they are and whatever their cities are.

He also says it will promote pay equity, which location-based pay could damage.

It’s a smart move and having a global, diverse workforce will improve their bottom line. Better quality, original content and experiences will appeal to more cultures and grow their subscriber base. Spotify is the most popular audio streaming subscription service with 345m users, including 155m subscribers, across 93 markets.

Thoughtful leadership too. Offering to pay for co-working space shows they recognise not everyone can or wants to work from home full time. It’s having the freedom to choose your #workstyle, as Hoxby puts it, which means Spotify will continue to attract the best talent.

It also challenges the leadership team to improve their communication skills, collaboration practices, processes and tools to keep innovating. They seem to have found a way to marry European and American mindsets – taking the best from both cultures to create a new kind of workplace. I’m curious to see how they manage the challenge of a hybrid workforce and develop their culture going forward. If you’re working there, please get in touch.

Spotify’s CEO and Founder Daniel Ek is also investing one billion EUR of his personal resources to enable an ecosystem of builders who can build a new European dream – more super companies – the first ‘Silicon Valley’ in Europe?

I’ll be looking to fund so-called moonshots — focusing on the deep technology necessary to make a significant positive dent and work with scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and governments to do so. (The Observer Effect).

More on their Dynamic Workplace effort.


Welcome to Texas, Elon Musk. You don’t have to move to Austin

What happens to the local housing market if we have a dual economy of expats and locals with the former being paid higher salaries? House prices rocket, tension builds, and creatives move out as they can no longer afford to live there. Over the last 20 years the population has doubled in Austin, TX – ‘the new Silicon Valley’ where the average home sells in nine days. A brief history of Austin’s ‘Don’t move here’ t-shirts.

Last month Elon Musk announced he was relocating to the Lone Star state, but which of their tech hubs is the best fit? The odds-on favourite: Austin.


The advice 🤔

On being in the flow and preserving start-up energy in a big company:

How do you get that vibe and retain it when you’re a large company? you need to create a space where ideas can flourish, and risks can be taken – where serendipity can take place. You have to remove all the barriers to this.

I call people when I’m inspired by something and throw out lots of different ideas. Again, nine times out of 10, what I say is completely worth shit. But every now and then, I come up with something that’s super relevant for someone; something that changes how they look at an issue. This can lead to super interesting breakthroughs.

On ‘algotorial’:

It’s a tension to talk about editorial versus algorithms. Internally we call this “algotorial.” We think that it’s quite beautiful to marry both. This is the beauty of editorial and algorithms working together; we as a company want to always ensure that we are not only shaping culture but also reflecting it.

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO & Founder. (The Observer Effect)

Go deeper 🕵🏻‍♀️

👩‍💻 On the future of remote working on big city salaries – some examples of what companies are doing as they take a global approach to hiring and remote culture. (Digiday)

💰 Should you get paid based on where you live? Interesting research shows location-based pay scales can weaken the morale of both lower and higher-paid staff, diminish productivity and increase turnover. (BBC Worklife)

🎧 Daniel Ek on habits, systems, and mental modes for top performance (Tim Ferris’ podcast)

⌚️ Ever wondered why a simple meeting can throw your whole day? Here’s a brilliant explanation of the Maker’s Schedule vs the Manager’s Schedule by Paul Graham. If we can understand the differences between the two types of schedule (manager vs freelancer, corporate vs start-up), it can help resolve the conflict. No more death by Zoom…

Pass it on!


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. Check it out here.


Work with me 🙋🏻‍♀️

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

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

☕️ Tips & large bank transfers welcome

📩 Subscribe to The Shift here

👋 Join Copy Club, 6 pm GMT every Saturday on Clubhouse

Categories
digital nomads future of work remote working Social media

The Shift: #32

Building a Country on the Internet; Digital Nomads Nation; Why Information Grows; How to Get Your Clubhouse Invite.

The big idea💡

Could we build a country on the internet?

Sondre Rasch, CEO, SafetyWing spoke about this at Digital Nomad Summit 2020 and has just launched Plumia, an unrecognised country on the internet. Their core product is global health insurance – a ‘social safety net’ for remote workers but their long-term mission is building a digital country as a membership product.

A fast-moving and software capable, technology-startup that is build from the bottom up like a company selling products.

Exciting idea.

I’m not sure if a private company is best placed to do this but then someone has to build it, and that’s probably going to be a tech startup with a global workforce. They have the education and motivation to do it. They can create a portal, start the movement and bring others on board. But they can’t do it alone.

Now is the time. Covid-19 is accelerating things and remote working has gone mainstream. As Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO said, we’ve gone through two years of digital transformation in the last two months. Brexit is finally done 😿 And we’re back in lockdown so it’s a good time to be learning online, developing ideas, and doing the groundwork.

Here’s a summary of his key points – watch online here.

A nation of borderless workers

There are 150 million remote workers worldwide with estimates of 25 million digital nomads living abroad – predicted to rise to 1 billion by 2035. This is the size of a large country and growing fast. We have a nation of borderless workers with the same needs as everyone else, which aren’t being met. We also have remote-first companies like Gitlab and Zapier showing you can build big enterprises as remote first, paving the way for others to follow.

But while the internet is like a global city, the infrastructure is not. Infrastructure is usually built along geographical divides. We have a social safety net in our home country but we can’t take it around the world. Which is why they started SafetyWing.

Not having this is a barrier to equal opportunities and freedom. The internet and remote work mean people can apply for jobs anywhere, start remote companies, and be freelancers earning a living online. But there are many grey areas e.g. where to pay tax.

5 reasons why

1. Geographical borders are obsolete and impractical. Built at a time when it made sense that people were based in one place – i.e. agriculture and making a living off the land. The internet has already removed borders – you can earn your income elsewhere.

2. A lot of countries are really bad – see the Corruption Index and you get little back for what you contribute. Common problems aren’t being solved. Can we build a better country on the internet?

3. People want a tribe and they don’t have one. People to talk to and rely on when they’re in trouble. Fun and meaningful connections. Societies are atomised – we have less identity from corporations and work – especially freelancers who work on projects.

4. The internet and technology open up the possibility to create better countries. The infrastructure will be faster-moving, with less red tape, and we can adapt quickly. There’s huge potential for improvement on what we already have.

5. Innovation and competition in citizenship are good for people. Governments will have to compete for citizens, they can’t take people for granted. They will have an incentive to improve their services. Until now, countries have had a monopoly but the balance of power is shifting back to the individual.

How do we do it?

We can either lobby to be recognised as a new country online or do it in partnership with forward-thinking countries like Estonia (e-residency programme) to solve shared problems. The first country on the internet has to be built as a membership that’s recognised by other countries. It should protect its citizens from theft and exploitation – using encryption. And have the benefits of a tribe and a legal framework. It should aim to be 10x better than the existing alternatives.

It makes sense to build on the existing infrastructure rather than trying to reinvent the wheel – those ‘60s communes didn’t work.

I’m excited about this – it’s a great idea. It’s time to rethink how and why we do things and look at what’s not working. People want meaning in their work – work/life integration. Why retire at 67 if you’re doing project-based knowledge work that’s not hard physical labour? Most people want to contribute to society, build connections and stay active – and they have tons of experience and a world view. I have a real problem with brilliant brains dying and that info not being downloaded. Loneliness is also a huge issue across all age groups.

Do we still need annual holidays if we work remotely and can travel more often? And why do we have restrictive visas that mean digital nomads have to country hop? People would stay in a place for longer and contribute more to the local economy and community if they were allowed to. Why should you pay all your tax to your home country if you’re based in other places throughout the year – and those places don’t benefit from your stay? There are lots of problems to solve – and we’ll see more digital nomad visas being introduced.

Join the movement

They are looking for leaders and contributors in remote work and nomadic space to get involved. There’s not much on the Plumia website yet but they will be sharing more info in early 2021. It needs to be transparent so we can see the business model.

We have a network among founders and politicians to make a real difference in the world, and we need a global presence, great leaders, and a large number of citizens to make it happen.

There’s also this initiative to create the world’s first e-nation (beta) and private network of global digital nomads.

National and cultural identities are great but there is a need of an additional ‘complementary’ global identity that transcends national borders, solves global challenges and presents digital nomads’ agenda to the world. This is not a replacement of any existing identities, culture, heritage or overriding ancestors. We have a huge respect for those identities. We are just addressing a need of global citizens and our new digital world.


The Advice 💬

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies, by César Hidalgo.

Humanity is unique in that we accumulate information in the form of new products.

What makes humans so special is our ability to “crystallize” information, to create something from seemingly nothing but our imagination. A computer or a robotic leg are things that don’t appear in nature but had to be imagined before they could be created.

But crystallizing takes a lot of effort. When we want to create a new physical order, we need to push the limits of reality, and this can rarely be achieved by one lone individual.

Thus people work together to develop new products with the knowledge they’ve collectively acquired from older products made by other humans.


Toolkit 🛠

👩‍💻 Plumia: An unrecognised country founded by thought leaders and entrepreneurs in the remote work space

🎧 Conscious Culture: Rebuilding Infrastructure For The New World

📑 SafetyWing: 13 Reasons Why We Should Soon Expect The First Country on The Internet

📹 Digital Nomad Summit 2020: Building a Country on The Internet

📱 Digital Nomads Nation App: First e-nation and private network of digital nomads


👋 I’m on Clubhouse nosing around. It’s a drop-in audio chat social network where you can meet new people, listen to conversations and join groups. The perfect place for Plumia to nest! I love audio – it’s intimate, empathetic and you can join from anywhere – no need to dress up, write anything and you can quietly leave the room when you’ve had enough. It’s like being in a swanky hotel bar and eavesdropping on conversations – Gary Vaynerchuck! This will fly. Well done to the founders. Great marketing – they’ve been everywhere this week with people scrambling for an invite.

You can join the waitlist here.

I’ll do a proper review next week.


Welcome to my bookshop! 📚

I’ll be sharing books in my bag and recommended reads on Bookshop.org here. They pay a 10% commission on every sale and give a matching 10% to local bookstores, an integral part of our culture and communities. Please spread the word and help support the high street 🙏


Work with me 🙋🏻‍♀️

Leopard print, always. Worry less and rock a red lip. Internet person, Croissant co-working, global citizen, flâneuse, problem solver.

💡 Thoughts, ideas, feedback? Leave a comment or email nicci@niccitalbot.com.

☕️ Buy me a virtual coffee every now and then – Ko-fi page here.

📩 Subscribe to The Shift here.

Categories
digital nomads future of work remote working

The Shift: #31

The new lexicon of work for 2021; The boom in Zoom towns; The greatest migration in human history; How to manage a remote team.

Happy 2021.

It’s been a Covid Xmas — I’m in recovery. Julieta tested positive at the hotel just before her flight to Italy and then tier 4 came in so flights from the UK were cancelled anyway. We came home for 10 days of self-isolation. Covid knocked me out — headaches, fatigue, loss of taste and smell, brain fog. But no cough or breathing problems thankfully, I just needed to rest. It feels good to be on the other side and let go of my anxiety about catching it and whether to have the mix-match vaccine (no thanks!) I enjoyed my mini-retirement, binging on Walter Presents, and want more of these in 2021.

I don’t do new year resolutions but it’s a good time to reflect on last year, be intentional and build on the positive habits started during lockdown — or ‘stacking’ as James Clear calls it in Atomic Habits. The New York Times Well team has a 7-day challenge for 2021.

If ‘unprecedented’ was the word of 2020, this year we have two: Flexibility and work from anywhere (WFA).

McKinsey’s research: Independent work: Choice, necessity and the gig economy reveals 20–30% of the working-age population in the US and Europe, or up to 162 million individuals are engaged in some form of independent work. The UK government has a Good Work Plan with advice and skills for people going self-employed to help them succeed. The DWP is hiring loads of work coaches to help with this with a focus on self-employment.

With remote work going mainstream, people are already fleeing big cities for a better lifestyle and we’re seeing a boom in Zoom towns around the world. Pieter Levels, the founder of Nomadlist, says we’re on the verge of the greatest migration in human history… not nomads travelling perpetually but millions of people relocating semi-permanently to places better fit to their way of living.

Here’s the new lexicon of work to get you set up for 2021:

Work-on-demand, Work from anywhere (WFA) 💻

There are more online platforms to find remote work — We Work Remotely, Remote OK, Upwork, Toptal, People Per Hour, Freelance Writing Gigs, Yuno Juno, Remotiveio, Hoxby, Teachable, LaborX (crypto jobs), Kolabtree, Nomadlist, The Dots (LinkedIn for creatives). More people are using The Dots to apply for projects so it’s worth watching their webinar on how the algorithm works to get to the top of the search results. Pip says tech is booming so to think about pivoting to work for a startup/tech company. There are loads on the site. They’ve also added a remote work section so you can filter projects. I’m seeing lots of articles about the best remote companies to work for and top freelancers in various places which shows the market is maturing.

EdX: Online learning 📚

Doing a three-year degree at 18 in a brick and mortar institution (and getting into debt) is no longer appealing or relevant. We need lifelong learning and affordable training we can do from anywhere. More platforms are springing up to cater for this: Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Khan Academy, FutureLearn, Lambda school, EdX to name a few. I’ve signed up for three courses: CitiesX: The Past, Present and Future of Urban Life with Harvard University, anthropology of current world issues at the University of Queensland, and how to manage a remote team with Gitlab and Darren Murph. These are free and I can pay for certification if I want it. For nomad parents, there’s lots of innovation happening in this space e.g. Galileo global school.

Community, collab and co-working 🤝

The best work platforms are helping freelancers to grow and develop their skills and connections rather than just listing jobs. We’re seeing more reward & recognition for loyalty, e.g. you’re more likely to get to the top of The Dots’ algorithm if you engage regularly, ask questions and help others. They have handpicked mentors/ambassadors and encourage you to credit a team member for project work so you both get recognition. Several Slack groups have Ask & Offer walls/Opportunities so you can find hidden jobs that aren’t advertised. They are offering training, education and events — like a one-stop-shop. We’re also seeing a rise in flash freelance teams coming together to work on projects. Work is coming from a range of sources not just employers.

Digital nomads, slowmads, flexpats, and subscription living 🌏

It’s predicted there will be one billion digital nomads by 2035 and the term will become less relevant as more of us work remotely, relocate and travel more. The rise of 5G, 6G and remote work visas will make it easier for people to stay in one place for longer and give back to local communities i.e. teaching tech skills. Countries like Georgia, Portugal, Estonia, Bermuda and Barbados are leading the way and governments will need to compete to attract the best talent. As Matt Mullenweg says, the smartest people will want to work this way so companies need to keep up.

We’re also seeing more startups and hotels offering flexible accommodation and subscription living, e.g. CitizenM and NomadX. I’d like to see a shift from westerners travelling to developing countries to live better lifestyles without giving much back to local communities to people from all countries being able to travel and work — so we need more flexible visas or an international visa that’s open to all. See One Way Ticket, the digital nomad documentary, which explores the pros and cons of this lifestyle.

Tools 🛠

I wrote this in Roam Research — a notetaking tool for networked thought. Just having a play with it to see what’s possible and liking it so far. Daily notes, journaling, articles, to-do list, bi-directional linking, a mindmap graph. A bit of mind gardening — it’s your second brain. It will be a great tool to help with workflow and research. I quite like writing in bullets — it speeds things up (you can disable this). Lots of beginner tutorials on YouTube.

Thanks for spending part of your Sunday with The Shift 🙏

See you next week — Nicci.

Hi, I’m Nicci 👋 — a journalist and writer. I write The Shift, a newsletter on the future of work, creativity, and travel. If you like it and want to read more, please consider becoming a paid subscriber here. Or if you prefer, you can buy me a coffee here. Find me on Twitter @niccitalbot.