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!


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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

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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.