Categories
Freelancing future of work Small business Wellness

Thoughtful exit interviews: how to offboard yourself

My summer work project ended with a bang last week. I was given a day’s notice via email and asked to quickly hand over to the new in-house copywriter. 

I get it – budgets and a new project manager, but it still took me by surprise as we were in the final stages of the work. I also felt a handover was a bit out of my scope as a freelancer – surely this was the PM’s job? So I asked my hiring manager for advice. She backed me up and said she’d speak to the PM. I told the copywriter I was happy to chat but checking the process first (also not clear if I’d be paid for this). 

I was onboarded quickly to fill a gap during the holidays and the project ended as abruptly. Here I am three months later, waiting to be paid for work that started in July. I enjoyed the work but the transactional nature of it has left me feeling frustrated and a bit fed up – where’s the humanity? All a bit soulless. Adland can be like this and it’s something I struggle with. I like to build relationships with the team and see the final end product.

It’s made me realise how important offboarding and exit interviews are with clients, so I have a process and checklist for my personal sanity and mental health…

  • Review the final project – what went well, what could have been improved?
  • Get a testimonial from the PM.
  • Say thank you to the team (people move around all the time, you never know when you’ll be working with them again). Ask to see the end product if possible – for my portfolio.
  • Send the final invoice.
  • Give feedback to HR and ask them to fill in a quick survey if they have time.
  • Leave a review on GlassDoor to help others. 

I may not get a response from the PM, but at least I’ve wrapped things up my side. 

Onboarding and offboarding is something companies need to think about more as the freelance revolution grows, and they need to manage freelancers at scale. Even better, hire a Head of Remote as my hiring manager was in a different country and not involved day-to-day.

Good communication is crucial for remote teams and having a handbook means new starters feel connected and can jump right in. Otherwise, it’s easy to feel disconnected and undervalued – which won’t foster good work. 

I’m also wondering if I need to tighten up my T&Cs and ask for a part payment upfront with overseas suppliers (I’ve been burned in the past). I’m grateful for the NUJ – if I end up chasing payment I know they have my back. Union membership is worth every penny.


Pandemic social fatigue

Is it just me, or is going out exhausting? I went out for a meal last week at a new restaurant, and we ended up sharing a table with a group of guys who’ve just moved here. Sensory overload. Too bright, too loud, too many people. I found it a bit overwhelming, so I guess I’m just out of practice.

I’m not alone – a piece by Lisa Milbrand on why socialising is more exhausting now for both introverts and extroverts and how to get your mojo back. 

Wishing you a relaxing and restful World Mental Health Day🎗 🧠

I’m not going to overload myself this quarter. I’m focusing on what I have, taking care of myself, reflection and R&D – the key to the productivity puzzle, Bojo…

Take care,

— Nicci

P.S. The most beautiful thing I’ve heard lately.


🔗🖐 5 Things 

★ Global Study on Freelancing: 75+ research partners and 1900 freelancers. It’s a big tent – 31% were over 50, and 64% were full-time freelance by choice. Most have a solid workload, but ⅓ are struggling (consider timing and context with Covid). Tech workers are the happiest. Freelancing is large and growing, but the platforms must continue to add value — great to see the expansion into coaching and education.

— Global Study on Freelancing

★ Facebook outage: offline for over six hours on Monday and on Friday. I enjoyed the break, but it highlights the issue of small businesses putting all their eggs in one basket and selling their services via social media rather than websites and customer service software. Excellent piece on how Facebook is acting like a hostile foreign power, and it’s time we treated it that way. Wow to the new cover of Time👀

— Facebookland: The Largest Autocracy on Earth.

★ The future of work should mean working less. Now we have space to reimagine how a job fits into a good life.A call for creating policies to keep work in its place: Universal Basic Income, rights to housing and healthcare, a living wage, and shorter hours at full pay. Human wellbeing is more important than productivity.

— The Future of Work Should Mean Working Less.

★ Headlines Network: free workshops starting in November to support media workers’ mental health in partnership with Google News Initiative. Great to hear they’re working with MIND to tackle mental health stigma in the media. Free, weekly 90-minute sessions: tips and tools for wellbeing and space for a chat – looking forward to it.

— Headlines Network

★ “There is no such thing as info overload. The overload is from ‘noise,’ and your ability to segment and ignore that noise will be a crucial survival skill for the future of your career and personal sanity” – Rohit Bhargava. A deep dive into how we develop this skill from Nir Eyal’s perspective as a tech insider who wrote Hooked: how to build habit-forming products. Clever tips on how to improve your attention and limit distraction. 

— How to Survive in a World of Information Overload


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Categories
digital nomads future of work writing

The future of education is community

Hi,👋

Welcome back! I hope you’ve had a reset and some family time.

I’ve been juggling a UX project with a 30-day writing sprint, posting daily atomic essays on Twitter via #Ship30for30. I’ve done a few Cohort-based Courses and this one stands out because of the community, fast results, and learning in public. I’m on Day 21/30 – here are my thoughts so far.

Positives – shipping daily is powerful. It stops you from overthinking, over-editing and being a perfectionist. The aim is to get stuff out there and analyse your data, so you can see what’s resonating and go all-in on that. Progress over perfection.

Personal stories resonate the most, and work/travel content. I’ve had the most interaction on essays about digital nomadism, Smart Villages, and dealing with negative feedback.

300 words is tight, so it focuses your mind on short, powerful ideas. Constraints help creativity. Typeshare adds a visual element and reader experience. The curriculum is packed and fresh – internet-based courses can be updated quickly. And it’s more affordable than longer training – incredible value for what you get.

Visibility, accountability and community – you’re doing it under your own name and growing your Twitter followers, so there’s a personal benefit.

It’s a transformational experience and a rite of passage. At the kick-off, Nicolas Cole said, “See you on the other side.”

Challenges – there’s a lot of course material to digest, weekly live calls, and an accountability buddy I’ve not managed to speak to yet. It’s a large cohort: 200+ people, so a fair bit of reading and feedback. I can’t do it all, so have focused on the essays and engagement. I’ve read Nicolas’ (excellent) book, and I’ll catch up on the coursework and replays.

What’s happened organically is smaller breakout groups with people in the future of work and nomad space. We cheer each other on and will Zoom after the course.

Some people have done several cohorts, which is a testament to the power of CBC’s.

The future of education is community.

Maybe we’ll see a wedding onboard soon🚢 👰🏼

Have a great week.

Nicci

🖐5 things

🗺 How digital nations like Plumia are giving digital nomads wings. I had a chat with Leanna Lee about Plumia, an online movement advocating for and protecting remote workers. A good overview of the latest research on the growth of location-independent work and the remote work problems we need to fix to be free to roam. Check out the Plumia Speaker Series and join the community for a borderless world.

🇪🇸Digital nomads are here to save Spain’s ghost towns. 30 dying villages across Spain have joined the National Network of Welcoming Villages for Remote Work scheme. It aims to attract remote workers with a new 12-month work visa. It’s not sun, sea and sand, but tranquillity, nature – and a chance to experience the ‘real Spain.’ Brilliant. They also need to focus on the cultural heritage, history and food, glorious food!

👩‍💻Future of Work documentary (PBS) – a six-part docuseries chronicling six mid-career adults as they navigate the shifting work landscape. It covers the rise of the precariat, gig economy, remote work, working to live, digital nomads, UBI, new opportunities, and more. All the videos are on their YouTube channel. And there’s a virtual weekly event series exploring the FOW.

🎧Fadeke Adegbuyi on the On Deck podcast chatting about her recent article on Study Web and her experience joining Every, a writer collective (I’ve applied to join). The article is also mentioned in this Think With Google report on what YouTube culture can tell us about the changing future of video – the accelerated trend for ‘slow living’ and how we’re creating community through company.

📚Global Natives: The New Frontiers of Work, Travel, and Innovation by Lauren Razavi. I’ve pre-ordered a copy via Holloway (many excellent books, including a free one on using Twitter). It explores the origins of digital nomads and location-independent work, and how the internet has changed our relationship with place. Knowing Lauren, it will dig deeper than the hype and tired nomad beach photos.

🌎The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is your guide to running a small but mighty business. Start living and working on your own terms.

Your weekly(ish) dose of inspiration, ideas and solutions every Sunday.

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To offset the carbon emissions of my online work, I plant 12 trees every month via Ecologi. We’ve got 10 years to sort this out – no time to waste🌍 ✈️

Categories
flexible working future of work Newsletter work culture

The Shift: Professional Reinvention🕵🏻‍♀️

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

How do you reinvent yourself professionally during precarious times? 

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

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

Four big trends

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

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

A psychological and social process:

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

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

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

3 things you can do

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

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

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

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

For more on multiple selves check out psychologist Hazel Marcus.

Follow her research @HerminiaIbarra.

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

Have a great summer!


5 things🖐

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

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

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

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

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

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


The future of work is now

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

Your weekly dose of inspiration, ideas and solutions✨

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

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


Categories
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.
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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
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!

Categories
Freelancing future of work remote working

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. 


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

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