Categories
digital nomads future of work remote working Small business

Interview: Jesse Chambers, CEO & Founder of wrkfrce. “Design your career around your life” 🚀

Happy birthday, wrkfrce! It’s a year since Jesse Chambers launched wrkfrce—a one-stop shop for remote workers, so I wanted to catch up and see how things are going. What’s it like building a business on the road during a pandemic, and what’s in store for 2022?

We had a chat about online media, the rise of Substack, morning routines, the pros & cons of the nomad lifestyle, and regeneration. He is hugely inspired by David Hieatt, Co-Founder of Hiut Denim Co and the Do Lectures, who is on a quest to get 400 people their jobs back in a small town (Cardigan in Wales) that used to have Britain’s biggest jeans factory.

“I’m a disciple.” His wife bought him the Do: Purpose book, which he says has been truly foundational in building his brand. Amen to that. I loved Do: Open and often come back to it—short, punchy, insightfuland great design.

wrkfrce’s missionTo build a brand that can inspire and empower all of us to make our careers around our lives.

When we design our careers around our lives—and not vice versa—we are more productive and fulfilled.

Great to see an equal emphasis on wellbeing and work (50:50 article split), and I like what Jesse said about talking to the remote worker, not about remote work (enough sites are doing that already). Also, it’s refreshing to read articles about remote blue-collar work as most I see are written for the white-collar tech/knowledge worker.

Jesse is self-funding this project, so check it out and spread the word 👏

Enjoy!


5 minutes with: Jesse Chambers, CEO & Founder of wrkfrce

Happy 1st birthday! It’s been a year since you launched wrkfrce. What key lessons have you learned along the way?

Thank you! There are too many lessons to count, but the biggest lesson is that getting started is the most important thing. One of my favourite sayings has become “it’s perfect enough” 😉

What are the challenges and opportunities for niche media in 2022 and beyond? What are you excited about?

I’m most excited that remote work has grown beyond a niche! There are so many benefitsboth for professionals and businessesin distributed work, and I’m excited that wrkfrce has an opportunity to play a role in helping shape the future of work.

What is growth for you, and how do you stay grounded while growing an online business and managing a remote team?

Growth is trying to get a little bit bettereven 1% or .5% betterevery day. If you’re able to sustain growth like that over time, the results will be profound. To keep myself grounded, I have a morning routine that includes four things: meditating for at least 10 minutes, writing down 5 things I’m grateful for, eating a healthy breakfast, and getting some exercise (which lately means a 15-minute jump rope workout).

If I’m able to do most of those things most days of the week, I’m a better leader, husband, friend, better everythingnot perfect, but better.

Tools for thoughtwhat book has inspired your thinking and process?

Very early in founding wrkfrce, my wife gifted me the book Do: Purpose by David Hieatt, and it has been truly foundational in building the wrkfrce brand. It’s an easy read; lots of pictures and ideas, but not many words. You could read the whole thing in under 45 minutes, but at least for me, I’m never done reading it; I go back to it all the time for inspiration or when I’m struggling with something. I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of founding a business or just looking for inspiration.

More insights and ideas at www.wrkfrce.com.


Small biz, big opportunities

It’s Small Business Saturday on December 4, a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages people to ‘shop local’ and support their communities. A brief history of the movement here.

You can promote your services in the Small Biz Saturday UK business portal for free. Share your stories and give local businesses a shoutout on SoMe using the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSatUK. I’ll be doing my Xmas shopping in St Leonardsit’s all indie businesses here, bar Boots!

Jesse said he’s been focusing on SEO for the website, so I sent him the piece I wrote on Building Backlinks, doing the rounds on Twitter. It’s a bit of a rabbit hole, so my digital marketing strategy is little and often. As a colleague said this week: “From small acorns, big trees grow.” 🌱🎄

Have a great Sunday.

Nicci

I’m working on a new project: Reimagining the future of scientific exchange and helping organise a hackathon for HCPs in 2022. If you’ve helped organise one or know someone who has—get in touch. I’d love to have a chat!

Unicron/Omicron = anagram = moronic 🤓


🛠🖐 5 Things

★ Free 1:1 mentoring with Google to help you grow your business online and find new customers. Get paired with a mentor from Google who will help you develop your digital marketing strategy—from building your brand on YouTube, Google Search and Maps to creating more ways to bring customers to your site.

→ Grow with Google

★ Monzo’s founder Tom Blomfield on why he left his £1bn business after it negatively impacted his mental health (Management Today). On what he’s learned from his time at the top, and what he’ll do next… A call for better communication and transparency: it builds trust and happy customers.

→ “As CEO, I never switched off”—Monzo’s Tom Blomfield

★ 2021 Ideas Report (WeTransfer). They asked 10K people from over 135 countries how 2021 transformed their creative worlds. Big shifts in power with Latin America challenging the status quo. The Great Resignation: How creatives leave their jobs in droves in search of fulfilment (and money isn’t the answer). Also: how to get featured on WePresent.

→ Ideas Report 2021

★ TRL 131: Starting a country on the internet & social safety nets for the new world with Sondre Rasch (That Remote Life). Sondre’s views on the future of remote work and why SafetyWing has invested thousands researching the topic of internet countries. Remote visas vs digital citizenship, and top takeaways from year 1 of the Plumia project.

→ That Remote Life #131

★ Focused work sprints on Zoom (via Hannah at Better Not Stop). Get your free 7-day trial. Start with the most difficult thing first. Do not disturb. Monotask. Facilitated by an experienced Cavedweller. Love the backstory. I don’t have a SheShed, so this could the next best thing.

→ Get more done in less time in the cave


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Categories
Newsletter productivity remote working writing

✍️How to create a writing culture

How does remote work change the way companies get things done?

David Perell (Write of Passage) said, “Remote work leads to writing-centric companies instead of speaking-centric ones.” Amazon and Stripe have a heavy writing culture. Amazon is famous for its six-page narratives, and Jeff Bezos is a brilliant writer. 

We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos. When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences and complete paragraphs, it forces a deeper clarity of thinking.

Here’s how to write like an Amazonian 🚀

The GitLab team handbook is their central repository for how they run the company. Over 2000 pages of text, and as part of their value of being transparent, it’s open-source. Darren Murph, GitLab’s Head of Remote, has talked about the importance of having a Chief Documentarian and writing everything down with remote teams. 

Bill Gates was on it in ‘99. New Rules: collaborative culture & digital information flow.

I read all the e-mail that employees send me, and I pass items on to people for action. I find unsolicited mail an incredibly good way to stay aware of the attitudes and issues affecting the many people who work at Microsoft. 

Better writing  Better thinking  Better communication  Clear leadership  Boosts productivity

Writing democratises ideas and lets teams have their say. It breaks down workplace politics—you’re not relying on verbal accounts, 1:1s or presenteeism to get stuff done. Transparency and good documentation build trust. Josh Bernoff“Clear leadership, expressed in writing, creates alignment and boosts productivity.” 

How Stripe built a writing culture ✍️

David Perell asked Brie Wolfson, who worked at Stripe for five years and set up Stripe Press to talk to his students about how companies can create a writing culture. 

Out of their conversations, she made this stellar guide 🚀

I’ve come to believe that Stripe’s culture of writing is one of the organization’s greatest superpowers. As startup whisperer patio11 puts it, Stripe is a celebration of the written word which happens to be incorporated in the state of Delaware.

Stripe has always treated documentation as a first-class product. People from every corner of the company author blog posts. The company publishes a magazine about building and operating software (Increment) and books about technological and economic progress (Stripe Press). 

But what we don’t see is the massive library of content produced in-house for employees. She says that’s where the real magic happens…

This interview digs into the company culture. Go deep and move fast.

One thing that distinguishes Stripe is that it’s an incredibly deep-thinking culture. It’s a written culture really focused on getting to the right answer. 

Another thing is a sense of urgency. The company is especially dedicated to moving very, very fast.  

Bring the Donuts

Ann Handley is also brilliant on this stuff. How to champion a content-oriented culture—the key to a customer-centric, intuitive, empathic point of view.

We don’t appreciate the work that goes into minute-taking—it’s bloody hard work!


🛠🖐5 Things 

★ Stop Asking QuestionsHow to lead high impact interviews and learn anything from anyone (Holloway). Lessons from a veteran podcast host with 2000+ episodes on the secrets of deeper conversation. It teaches you how to interview and how to learn. Excerpt here. I can’t get enough of Holloway’s brilliant books!

⟶ Stop Asking Questions

★ How to take smart notes (Forte Labs). Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says the secret of her career success is down to diligent and reliable notetaking. A simple technique to boost your writing, learning and thinking. Have a listen to Tiago’s interview and Q&A with the author, Sönke Ahren here.

⟶ How to take smart notes.

★ Field Notes: Miami (Devon Zuegel). What’s it like to live in Miami, the new tech hub? Writer and Product Director Devon Zuegel on what makes Miami special. The colours! The flowers! Immigrant spirit. These field notes are a bit different from previous cities she’s explored because Miami is her home. I’m listening to Order Without Design, her new podcast about cities.

⟶ Field Notes: Miami

★ Exotic and sustainable, night trains are coming back to Europe. The ‘Euro Night Sprinter’ map is utopian, but Europe’s rail future could look a lot like it. It’s a proposal by the German Greens, who want a Europe-wide network of sleeper trains. By 2030, it would connect more than 200 cities and places across Europe. Slow, comfortable travel. All aboard! 🙏

⟶ Euro Night Sprinter Network

★ A Twitter thread from Dickie Bush with advanced tips for every internet tool. Starting with Twitter – 10 advanced features, how to master Google search, Google docs, YouTube rabbit holes, Mac tips and more. One to bookmark and return to when well-caffeinated – there’s a lot to digest here.

⟶ Advanced tips for every internet tool.

🤔 Major Lifehack: A New Study Has Found That A Key To Getting Stuff Done Is Not Just Sort Of Wasting The Hours Between 3 And 7 PM Every Day.

Categories
future of work mental health productivity remote working

Productive morning routines 🌅

Welcome to the Sunday Shift: a weekly-ish newsletter rethinking how we live, work and play.
★ This week: Productive morning routines; The great American road trip, CEO style from an Airstream; Europe’s largest remote work conference; Sync vs Async communication; wrkfrce’s Playbook Project; The Great Resignation; 5G: A short course.

As the saying goes, if you “win the morning, you win the day”.

Tim Ferris has talked to many successful people about their morning rituals and shared the five things he does to set himself up for a day of positive momentum and minimum distraction – including making his bed and journaling.

I love the reference in this episode to “the bookends of the day” – pay attention to the small stuff like making your bed, and the big stuff will sort itself out.

Last August, Chris Reeves set up the group #WTMWTD after hearing the phrase on a podcast about getting out of your comfort zone to help with the stress and mental health decline amidst COVID-19. They meet first thing in the morning for a walk or swim, coffee and a chat, and it’s been transformational for many. A movement with global groups springing up and a Facebook group with 3K followers.

It’s less about productivity and the to-do list and more about putting yourself first, so you’ve achieved something no matter how the rest of the day goes. He says it works because:

It’s free, I’m not selling anything, and it’s a welcoming environment for anyone who wants to step outside their comfort zone. I don’t like the sea. I don’t like cold water. But the reason I do this is that it sets me outside my comfort zone.

All good as long as you’ve had enough sleep!

And a big shoutout to Chase Warrington for this chat with the founder and CEO of wrkfrce, Jesse Chambers, about morning routines, mental health, and the future of work. Jesse and his wife left San Francisco to hit the road in a vintage Airstream while founding a company and managing a global remote team. Wrkfrce is an excellent one-stop shop for remote work, and great to see it has a dedicated Wellness section.

Chase has also written this piece on having a more productive morning routine by “paying yourself first”. Some personal finance advice on putting your “non-negotiables” before work obligations.

How you work is just as important as the work you’re doing.

Follow the plan, not the mood 😁

– Nicci


🛠🖐5 Things

★ Repeople Conference 2021 – Europe’s largest remote work conference onsite + virtual. Debating the top five topics around the future of work, managing distributed teams, digital marketing, live VR work experience. Nomad City has rebranded as ‘Repeople’ (repopulate) to reflect the growing number of remote workers. Contributing to the remote work ecosystem in the Canaries.

– Repeople Conference 2021

★ Synchronous vs Asynchronous Communication: How to find the right balance for your team. Top organisations like Doist, Gitlab and Buffer have become more productive by cutting back on meetings and learning how to embrace async comms.The pros and cons of both forms, when to use them, and how to make the most of them.

– Synchronous vs Asynchronous Communication.

★ wrkfrce’s Playbook Project – the global rise of reactive remote work in 2020 spawned a proliferation of playbooks by many leading remote-first companies, which open-sourced the knowledge they’ve gained to help other businesses. Trouble is, they’re loooooong. Here’s wrkfrce’s condensed CliffsNotes versions with the most useful, actionable insights to help make working remotely rock for you.

– wrkfrce’s Playbook Project

★ Do we have to work? RSA replay. What does work mean in the 21st century? It allows us to pay the bills – but it’s become about more than that – finding purpose, identity, and meaningful work for many people. Digging into The Great Resignation, production vs consumption, and what needs to change in the new era of work: UBI, zero or low-cost economy, and the growth of self-employment and portfolio working.

★ 5G: A short course from Axios. 5G is cast as a technology that will revolutionise cities, transportation, education and more, but it faces hurdles. A five-part video intro into how it might apply to your life and work and the debates surrounding it. “What we’re facing is the possibility of a global surveillance machine.”

– Get smart by Axios: 5G


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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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