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
future of work health technology

Burnout culture is alive and well. How about you?

Thinking big 💡

I am not just busy; I am being overwhelmed by an onslaught of requests like yours… 

The pioneer of workplace burnout research is swamped with work. Christina Maslach, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, first studied burnout in the 1970s and has been searching for solutions since. She was busy before the pandemic, but now… her inbox has exploded.

I found myself apologising last week when a client called to chase me for invoices. ‘I’m a bit concerned you might need groceries… You can send me this month’s and last month’s if you like…’ Usually, I’m on it – I love invoicing clients, but right now, I’m overwhelmed and behind on admin. I have over 6,000 emails, as I said last week. 

It’s been a double shift since Xmas, and it took this tweet from the Journalists’ Charity to remind me of that. 

@JournoCharity

I’ve been reading lots of articles about pandemic burnout – it’s our anniversary, but burnout has been a silent issue for some time. Interesting to read this piece in The Atlantic on how burnout is technically a work problem.

Research suggests we tend to feel more stressed when we face conflicts about our various roles—mother, worker, friend to a frazzled co-worker, daughter to an anti-vaccine parent. And right here is the role conflict plague.

Three million American women have dropped out of the workforce since the pandemic began because they are shouldering the burden of all these different roles.  

It points out there are plenty of wellness hacks to help us push through the pandemic, but according to burnout experts, it’s a problem created by the workplace, and changes to the workplace are the best way to fix it. The World Health Organisation defines burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that’s not been successfully managed.

We’re in the thick of the ‘shecession‘, and globally, women’s job losses due to Covid-19 are 1.8 times greater than men’s. According to McKinsey’s survey, one in four women said they were thinking about reducing or leaving paid work due to the pandemic, citing company inflexibility, caring responsibilities and stress. 

High status doesn’t insulate women from stress and burnout. Senior-level women are significantly more likely than their male peers to consider dropping their hours or dropping out of the workforce because of the burnout associated with being “always-on” and juggling multiple responsibilities during the pandemic. BBC Worklife.

As the McKinsey report shows, companies are stepping up, but many don’t address the underlying causes of stress and burnout—the childcare crisis and a need for flexible working at all levels of work. We still have outdated views of women in the workplace and see child giving as a female function, and care work is still low paid and undervalued.

Companies can do more—childcare subsidies should be the norm, not a job perk – and employers that offer this will attract and retain top talent. People give more and are loyal to employers when they feel valued and cared for.


The advice 🤔

Path For Life

I heard Jeanette Bronée talking about burnout and self-care in the workplace. She is a workplace wellbeing strategist and on a mission to make self-care part of business culture. She is hugely passionate about her work and what she said resonated with me.

Self-care is an essential skill in the future of work. Burnout is probably the most disruptive issue that we have to deal with in work culture, yet we don’t really know what to do. We’re focusing too much on the symptom of burnout rather than looking at the root cause.

I had burned out twice by the time I was 40 years old. And to no surprise. I was young, ambitious, and I expected my body to be there for me.

And she’s not alone. 7 out of 10 millennials burn out before they’re 40.

We need to foster the mindset that burnout is a work company problem to fix, not an individual issue.

The future of work requires us to change the way we think about performance and productivity. Even though time is our greatest challenge, health is the foundation for peak performance that can transform the workplace from a burnout culture running on stress and survival mode to a culture driven by care, purpose, focus and engagement.

‘Self-care is not for after-work’ – find ways to give yourself microdoses during the day. And it’s not about ploughing on: ‘We need to redefine resilience with Covid – it doesn’t mean to keep pushing through, it means to be supported.’

It’s time to rethink work culture – burnout culture is not working. And a warning that we may be heading to another version of it virtually – the next burnout – if we don’t get the balance right now.

Self-care can’t wait. As the last year of the pandemic has shown, the world is speeding up, but we’re not robots – our bodies are still running on the same system.

We think of self-care for when we make it, but we’ll make it faster if we practice self-care. It’s a choice. We can hustle because we practice self-care.

We can be successful and healthy; it shouldn’t be a choice between the two.

And there’s a direct link between individual self-care and the health of an organisation.

Someone said: ‘If I want to suffer, I’ll go back to being an employee in the corporate world.’ 

That makes me sad. Is this the world we want to bring our kids into?

More resources on Jeanette’s website, Path for Life, and she’ll be speaking about how we can fix work at the Self-employed Summit on April 12 & 13. 

Here are some practical things you can do to help prevent burnout and be your best. Thanks to Jeanette Bronée, Nilufar Ahmed, The Worldwide Association of Women Journalists & Writers, and the Society of Freelance Journalists – excellent events this week on mental health.

There’s a lot of help out there. 🙏

On work routine: 

• Start with the basics – create a work schedule that integrates basic care, water, food, sleep and have structured work hours during the day.

• Fake commute: We need physical movement to prepare our brain and body for the next task. We need structure and separation. Build activity into your day. Try a standing desk. 

• Power Pause – check-in: where am I right now, and what do I need to be more focused and have more energy? Get into the habit of giving yourself microdoses of self-care during the day.

• Have a personal board of advisors – mates, colleagues – who will look out for you.

• Take a nap – it’s better to take a 10-minute nap than have a coffee as it calms you down. The Nap Ministry is on a mission to bring back the culture of napping. ‘We believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations.’ 

• Create a compliments folder – log every compliment you receive, including the date and who said it. Kudos – You’ll instantly feel better.

• Put your work stuff in a box and pack it away end of the day.

Tech is one of our biggest stressors: 

• Be mindful of your email use and keep ’em short and succinct. Respond to emails at set times and set an autoresponder.

• ‘The pandemic is sending our brains conflicting messages. With video calls, faces are within 50cm of us, and this tells our brain that these are close or intimate friends when instead they are colleagues or strangers. It’s tiring. Avoid back-to-back meetings – we need time to pee, hydrate, and reset our brains.’

• Work on one thing at a time. Close additional tabs on the browser, clear your desktop, turn off notifications.

• When did you last have a proper belly laugh? We forget to have fun at work – play music while replying to emails.

• Make time in the day for casual chat that isn’t work-related – have a virtual lunch and use tech in different ways. 

What can you do differently from tomorrow? 


Go deeper 🛠

💡 The Maslach Burnout Inventory™️ – take the test.

🕵🏻‍♀️ The Self-investigation – A free online stress management and digital wellness program from Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Mar Cabra, Kim Brice, and Aldara Martitegui. 

🎧 Managing Burnout – Women at Work podcast, Harvard Business Review with Mandy O’Neill, an expert on workplace wellbeing. When was the last time you had a proper belly laugh? Great discussion. 

💻 Path for Life, Jeanette Bronée – Resources for people and companies to achieve better work-life quality. Jeanette is speaking at the Self-employed Summit on April 12 & 13. 

📚 Can’t Even: How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen. Loving her newsletter, Culture Study – Imagine Your Flexible Office Work Future, and looking forward to her new book on the future of work.


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 over the moon if you buy something every now and then here.


Work with me 🙋🏻‍♀️

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

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

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Categories
Advice. Opinions. Conversation.

How digital marketing has changed during lockdown – some stats for your strategy

Covid-19 has radically changed how we work, shop and live our lives – speeding up digital transformation already happening. And as consumer behaviour changes, businesses have had to adapt quickly.

We’ve had a look at some of the big data coming out of lockdown to help you plan your digital marketing strategy for 2021. Eight months on, some clues are coming out as to what trends will be long term.

What’s clear is digital is leading the way and helping companies to respond to the loss in revenue with the pandemic, which means reorienting business models to be digital-first is vital to keep pace with long-term changes in consumer behaviour.

Advertising spending pre and post-Covid

Data from the World Advertising Research Centre (WARC) shows brands are slashing advertising spend for 2020 to the tune of 50 million globally. Their latest Global Ad Trends report shows almost all product categories will see a decline in ad investment this year. However, best practice shows brands should continue to spend through difficult times to position themselves for recovery.

Consumer trends during lockdown

Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends survey explores the rise in online shopping, banking, video streaming and healthcare in response to the lockdown.

  • About 40% of respondents did more online shopping during lockdown
  • 14% had more remote (phone or video) appointments with health practitioners
  • 1/3 streamed more films and TV series on vod platforms

Here’s Google’s new data on six lockdown consumer trends here for the long-term.

Localism is accelerating

In the UK 43% of consumers believe local businesses are good for the economy and 57% said after lockdown they’re more likely to spend money at a business that offers locally produced products or services. Google searches for things ‘near me’ have rocketed. Highlight the local aspects of your product or service. Make sure your website is optimised for local search and update your Google My Business listing.

Be seen and heard in the community – there’s a focus on ethical and sustainable brands doing good and being helpful. 65% of people say a brand’s response to the pandemic will hugely impact their likelihood to buy its products, and that businesses have a big part to play in helping society recover. Strong brand values are important. Communicate what you’re doing locally to help during the crisis.

Social media communities

Ofcom’s latest report Online Nation shows a 61% growth in social media engagement during lockdown. We’re looking for new ways to keep connected, informed, entertained and fit during the pandemic.

TikTok reached 12.9m UK adults in April, up from 5.4m in January. Twitch, the popular live streaming platform for gamers, saw visitors increase from 2.3m to 4.2m. Video calls have doubled during lockdown, with more than 7 in 10 doing so at least weekly. Houseparty grew from 175,000 adult visitors in January to 4m in April. Zoom had the biggest growth, from 659,000 adults to reach 13m adults over the same period.

People are moving away from conventional forms of communication – landline and SMS to messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Is your business there?

Video is essential

Video is now an essential, not nice to have. Ofcom’s report shows 9 in 10 adults, and almost all older children aged 8-15 are using sites like YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok to create and share videos online. 1/3 of adults now spend more time viewing video-sharing services than broadcast TV. There’s been an explosion in user-generated content, and creators are making money from it.

It’s easier to watch videos when we’re working at home, and we have more time. Could you bring in more ‘how to’ tutorials next year? It need not be expensive and high production – a handheld iPhone clip is authentic and can be just as effective. Rob Kenney’s YouTube channel, Dad, how do I? has two million followers and has been described as wholesome and the purest thing. His content went viral and he’s now teamed up with retailers.

Community groups were the most popular thing on Facebook last year catering to our hobbies, interests and a desire to help out locally. You may not have the resources to run social media ad campaigns, but it’s free to set up a Facebook group – and more companies are hiring community managers to help them grow their business.

Social shopping posts

People are buying products in social media posts on Pinterest and Instagram – and also on LinkedIn via lead generation. We’ve been able to do this for a while, but the process is being refined to remove the friction in the user journey. Take advantage of this but always aim to drive people back to your website.

The rebirth of influencer marketing

Marketing with influencers has been around for a while – we’ve gone from brands working with big followings to micro-influencers with a more authentic, dedicated audience, who are seen as trusted specialists in their niche. YouTube is now giving influencers tools to help them measure their content and make money in new ways, and other platforms will do the same to support creators. It’s worth thinking about working with influencers on campaigns if this suits your business model.

Interactive content is becoming mainstream  

Tech-savvy consumers want to connect with brands in new and fun ways. The increase in online shopping searches for ‘live chat’, ‘virtual try on’, ‘next day delivery’ and ‘apps’ show we are looking for ways to enhance online shopping. Chatbots are one of the fastest-growing digital marketing trends in 2020 – the future of customer service. Interactive content is becoming mainstream – think about quizzes, polls, AI ads, podcasts, 360-degree videos, and voice search.

Responsive content marketing and education

We want simple, subtle and responsive content that improves our quality of life. It’s less about celebrity and selling – more focus on empathy and thought leadership. Provide thoughtful and useful content that improves your customers’ lives – tell them how you’re responding to the pandemic now. Be expressive and empathetic as far as it fits with your brand tone of voice – consistency is key. Think about cause-based communications – how you can help rather than what you can sell…

How can you help people to enjoy their time at home? Could you help them to work better and create new habits? Campaigns aimed at personal growth; mental health & wellbeing will do well. People are trying to become better versions of themselves, whether it’s learning a new skill, exercising more or meditating.

Revisit your website and social activity and think about where you can add value. Be positive, aspirational and supportive. Adapt your imagery to focus on social distancing and safety – your digital resources need to reflect reality. It’s vital to build trust at this time, and the best marketing campaigns engage with humans more helpfully.

People need seasonal content, things to look forward to, and reassurance. Be active on your social channels and adapt your messaging to suit the platform – if you’re B2B, focus on LinkedIn. For B2C – Facebook, Google Ads, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube. Facebook appeals to over 65s, while Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok attract younger audiences.

Investing in your customer’s online journey

WARC’s data shows the brands that have spent the last two years investing in their online customer journeys – be it via their website, app, or new technologies such as live streaming are now seeing the payoff. We’ll see a boom in click and collect at stores, pre-booking shopping slots online, and easy delivery. Sainsbury’s have done this well – investing in mobile app and e-commerce whereas Primark has no online presence and saw its sales drop from £650 million a month to zero after lockdown when stores had to close.

Your website is your window to the world – your shop front – so it needs to be up to date, fast and responsive to enquiries. If you’re a service-based business, can you add a tool that enables people to reschedule appointments? We’ve got used to the speed, ease and convenience of online shopping and contactless payments – why would we go back to supermarket queues and traffic jams?

Be agile, creative and experimental

Now is the time to be agile, creative, and innovative with your digital marketing. Don’t get bogged down in the process – act now as every day brings a new challenge. Find new ways to work and make quick decisions to speed up the creative process – automated digital tools can help you to meet this demand.

Digital is a shining light to help you through the next few months. Get your digital elves ready! Carry through the lessons you’ve learned in new ways of working.

If you need help with your digital marketing strategy get in touch – we’d love to chat! hello@perspectivemarketinganddesign.co.uk.

Categories
Advice. Opinions. Conversation.

The Shift: Issue #8

Back in Business

Did you go out yesterday? Super Saturday. It was raining here, so I didn’t bother. Not in the mood for shopping or being in a crowded pub, so I stayed home and made some calls. It’s been a busy week, and I had to take my daughter to Heathrow on Tuesday. She’s spending the rest of the summer in Sardinia with her dad, so I’m getting used to being on my own again.

A friend made a comment the other day about being an unpaid skivvy and how she’s glad to get back to work (she runs a vegan café and has been doing takeaways). I know how she feels. I’ve enjoyed spending more time with my daughter and having a co-working buddy, but it’s been hard work. Lots of shopping, cooking and cleaning on top of my paid work, which women tend to do more of.

I need a break. 

A friend said her neighbours are having an existential crisis about having jobs with no meaning. The pandemic has polarised jobs into two camps: essential and nonessential. We’re celebrating key workers—teachers, doctors, nurses, supermarket staff and delivery drivers because they’re out there doing important (and visible) jobs. It’s easy to feel demoralised and fed up if you’ve been furloughed, worrying about redundancy, or doing less visible work like IT, marketing and social media.

If you’re feeling that way there are some good tips in this piece by The Enterprisers Project. Read more