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Feeling the pinch 👀

Issue #74, February 6, 2022. Art: Rosie Johnson Illustrates

So there it is, Rishi to the rescue with a package of ‘support’ to offset rising energy bills, which covers less than half of the £693 energy bill hike for the average UK household from April 1 👀

£150 rebate on council tax for some and a £200 negative levy on energy bills from October to be repaid in instalments over the next five years. The Centre for Economics and Business Research forecasts a £1,980 rise in overall living costs. The government is trying to soften the blow, but it’s not enough for the brutal cost of living crisis.

All eyes are on the UK to see how we handle this.

And there’s Andrew Bailey, Bank of England boss, telling us not to ask for a big pay rise!! i.e. the 0.5% interest rate rise will be the first of many if we start demanding higher wages. All well and good if you’re earning half a million a year…

Sod that! I’m going to have to raise my prices.

We’ve had bankers’ tax cuts, billions lost to fraud on Covid loan schemes, losses on PPE, and Shell reporting mega-profits. Good to see Red Ed back on it – excellent timing – with calls for a windfall tax on energy firms to help with the price hike.

Time to transform the way we do business. The Better Business Act is collective lobbying for change in company law to ensure companies align their interests with wider society and the environment. 900 companies have opted to be part of the coalition for a cleaner, greener, fairer future for all 👏

Will you join them? You can nominate a leader here.

What help can you get?

Covid cash cut… a running summary from the NUJ London Freelance branch of what help’s available. If you’re going to apply for the Household Support Fund via your local council, do it now – it expires March 31. 

Write to your energy supplier. I’ve written to Octopus to ask for help – they have a £2.5m financial hardship fund and the Warm Homes Discount, which gives you £140 off your bill. This needs increasing and extending.

Turn2us – benefit calculator and grants search to find out what support you can get.

Join a union: the NUJ’s charity has been brilliant and helped me financially throughout Covid as I wasn’t eligible for the SEISS grant. They’ve also given other key workers and me a pay rise and backdated pay to offset inflation.

Citizens Advice are helping record numbers with energy help, advice and referrals for crisis support.

We all need to slowly adjust to paying more for energy bills, and that’s fine. I can be frugal when I need to. But a scarcity mindset isn’t great for my mental health, business and creativity.

I don’t need to cut back – I just need to earn more. So I will be raising my fees and retraining for higher-paying work.

Not going out and spending money locally won’t help small businesses either or create a thriving community to be proud of.

5 Things to Know 🖐

Growmotely’s Align Summit: Building the thriving business of the future. A global online event for entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders transforming the world of work. 7-9 February, free or pay what you can afford. Excellent speakers and topics. Excited about this! Love Growmotely’s vibe ✨

→ Join: Align Summit (Growmotely) 

Tallinn’s Got Talent: Why Estonia’s capital is the best city in the world for digital nomads. James Ware on his week working from Tallinn, recently ranked the best city in the world for remote workers: “not because of one wow thing, but a gazillion small things that accumulate into your experience.” On my list.Love theIgluoffice, a workspace set by the sea – like an Airstream with frills.

→ Read: Tallin’s Got Talent (The Independent) 

Unlearning the way we work – Alastair Simpson, VP of Design at Dropbox, has led the company’s virtual-first transformation. Great to see a design-led approach to the future of work rather than the usual Ops and HR focus – we need more of this! The framework they used for their distributed teams is a Virtual First Toolkit.  

→ Listen: unlearning the way we work (Remote First podcast) 

Move to Sicily for free: restored 1Euro house in Sambuca looking for a live-in Airbnb host for a year. Be the host of a designer house in Sambuca, learning Italian, experiencing local life, and helping regenerate the region. Great initiative from Airbnb – remote work is the way to regenerate small towns. Also good to see CEO Brian Chesky doing the product research… 

→ Read: move to Sicily for free (Evening Standard) 

Clear thinking for 2022 – topline findings from a new report surveying knowledge workers and what we want (flexibility, change, hybrid). Intriguing to hear Julia Hobsbawm (The Nowhere Office) say, “the world is going freelance,” with growing numbers of solopreneurs making their own luck. Ipsos: “we’re going to need offices, but just not for work.” I enjoy every episode of Bruce’s thoughtful podcast. 

Enjoy this newsletter?

→ Listen: clear thinking for 2022 (Eat Sleep Work Repeat) 

Send me a note: nicci@niccitalbot.io

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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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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

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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🌍 ✈️