PLATF9RM Learns

The Highs And Lows Of Remote Working

Technology has given humanity many wonderful things: rockets that fly to other planets; machines that scan bodies for illnesses; Jonny 5 from Short Circuit.

It’s thanks to technology and the advent of the internet that more employees and workers are working remotely. This YouGov poll suggests 30% UK workers were more productive working remotely, whilst the TUC said the number of people working remotely increased 19% in the ten years to 2016. To the naysayers, remote working remains a cheat’s charter and a license to clock in wearing in your PJs and knock off at 3pm. And, well, for some people it is. But for millions of others it’s an effective way of taking control of your working day and, by extension, your life.

On Wednesday 24 April, PLATF9RM is staging an event called The Magic Of Remote Working, where some fantastic guests will take us through their (remote) working lives. In advance, we asked them to give us a quick primer on the highs and lows of remote working. Read these before deciding if the office life ain’t for you...


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Joanne Munro – The VA Handbook

I have a location-independent business model and I go away for five days to one-month stretches, with 2.5 weeks the sweet spot. I’m a curious person and it gives me freedom to meet new people in fascinating places. (The chance to avoid those brutal Brighton winters is obviously a huge bonus too!) Despite this somewhat peripatetic lifestyle, I wouldn’t classify myself as a digital nomad: I’m still settled in Brighton (I have a flat here) and use AirBnB and homeexchange.com to get cheap accommodation.

Anything with a high must have a low, right? Technical problems are very much all “on you”. Recently my laptop cable just decided to stop working in Trieste – a simple situation to amend when you’re in an office and can borrow a colleague’s, but tricky when you’re alone in a country where you don’t speak the lingo! Solitude can be a problem – you’re having these experiences but if you’re not with someone they can stay in your head. Fortunately, coworking spaces are opening everywhere and are good for meeting like-minded people. Big tip from me? Get a Priority Pass for airports. I never used to get any work done on travel days but now I can settle into airport lounges and get stuck in.


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Laura Turner – Director of Altitude Camps

I decided to get out of the bubble that is the Alps, but wanted to continue running Altitude Camps – we organise summer camps in Verbier. I chose to work from the UK with catch-up trips back to Switzerland. This is essential to making it work for both sides – with technology we can still communicate really well, look at the same screen and everyone gets my support, but you can’t beat some (occasional!) facetime.

A major bonus? I now find that the team use their initiative more, trying to problem solve as I am not just the other side of the office. This develops their own understanding, skill set and allows them to take on more responsibility (as well as saving me time which is a benefit for everyone!).

There are some downsides: during peak weeks like New Year and half-term, I am not there to just jump in when things get busy with walk-in clients. I do also miss the social side of being in the office but that’s where PLATF9RM has been really nice*: it gives me the perfect combination of social chat and time to really focus on my own work.

*Laura wrote this of her own volition... pinky swear…


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Cliff Ettridge – The Team

I want to tell you a story about cheese.

I love it.

So much.

In fact, pretty much anything dairy, and my will evaporates.

And so, working at home – close to my fridge – it’s a nightmare.

It’s cheese temptation gone mad, because there is nobody there to stop me. There’s nobody there to check my behaviour; to suggest a different approach; to bounce my ‘cheese problem’ about with.

And there you have it. For me, working alone, is an unhealthy diet.

As a London-based worker, working at home one day a week is a godsend from the commute. Time and again I used to tell colleagues that ‘working from home I get so much more done.’ Now, I can’t cite any research to support the claim I’m about to make, but in my reality, this is a load of baloney. I never used to get more done.

Why? Because I see work as a social activity.

As human beings we do mimic the behaviour of others. When we’re surrounded by people hard at work; people thinking; sharing ideas; getting excited on the phone, then we like to copy that. And when we’re with other people we can bounce ideas about, enjoy some laughter and, avoid the cheese. That’s my view.

As remote working increases – and Chief Financial Officers see the opportunity to drive down costs by pushing more workers into coworking spaces – then remote working is going to increase.

This means that the worker who is more aux fait with collaborative technologies – the early adopter – that will be the person that will thrive.

That’s why I am throwing myself into coworking and remote working – it’s the work of the future.


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Tom Bailey – Brighton SEO

I've been a self-employed freelancer for the past 14 years. So self-directed remote / mobile working is the only real model I know now, and to be honest, I'm not sure how well I'd function in a more conventional office environment.

The Rough Agenda and the BrightonSEO team is built on this way of working, partly as it began as a sideline project itself, partly because it's fairly common in an event industry context, and also very much as a conscious decision by the MD about the way he wanted things to run.

There are loads of benefits; the team all balance the job with other work commitments, activities and/or childcare. It enables commitment from a skilled and experienced core team who might not be able to attach themselves to a more conventionally structured project. When people are empowered to take responsibility, it also creates a real sense of shared endeavour in it all - which is really what we're all after at the end of the day.

There are some challenges of course. Ambiguity of responsibility can be a problem, and everyone needs to accept that the odd thing is going to fall between the cracks. Also, some people find it an easier model to work with than others and you can feel isolated from time to time if you've not spoken out loud to another grown-up all day!


"The Internet Is In Our Blood.” A Guide To Generation Z, by 18-year-old CEO Brandon Relph

By 2019 Generation Z will comprise 32% of the world’s population. This data, published by Bloomberg, classified a Gen Z member as anyone born after 2000. If you’re a business that wants to engage those 18 and under, you’d better act fast if you don’t want to seem as medieval as a MiniDisc.

For those hoping to unpick the minds of Gen Z, there’s no better person than the Eastbourne-based Brandon Relph. Brandon is 18 and CEO of his company Internet Ready, who consult on and devise Generation Z-focused internet marketing strategies. He became the world’s youngest CEO – a title he no longer holds – at just 13-years-old after launching the Minecraft-based business goCreative.

Five years later he spends most of his days helping Fortune 100 companies drag their feet out of the past. Added to that, he’s an international speaker and was once described as “awesome” by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Speaking to Brandon, perhaps surprisingly, will make you feel both old and scornful of the painfully childish whims of your own 18-year-old self. We caught up with him to discover everything you need to know about Generation Z.

 

Hey Brandon. What’s the main difference between millennials and Generation Z?

Millennials changed the world but Gen Z are changing it again. The main thing is that we grew up with the internet. It’s in our blood. It changed how we see the world.

 

Has growing up behind a computer affected your attitude to work?

It’s hard to say but we definitely prefer to work independently. We’re less interested in collaborating. I think we like our own space because we’re used to having it. We can connect on the internet rather than sitting in the same room!

 

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We read a lot about Gen Z being more mindful than those before. How does that play out?

We’re much more careful with money and thoughtful about how much things cost. We are a lot more savvy around brands and where we put our money. Millennials were quite oblivious to when they’re being marketed to but we’re very, very aware. When we become adults we’ll have the highest buying power of any generation, so we’ll have all the money but we’ll spend it wisely.

What about careers?

We want accelerated careers. We want to just get on with our thing. We don’t want to go in at low-level jobs.

How do you channel that though? Everyone has to start somewhere.

The world is still working out how to adapt but I think there’ll be a lot of smaller firms. A lot of individuals and freelancers to make a web of talent rather than just having pure bureaucratic companies. 

How important will the culture of an company or employer be?

We’ll want something that constantly stimulates our minds. Rather than just going in and doing one job we’ll want to go in, have three different jobs and just get on with it. 

How important is “constant stimulation” in marketing?

We need to have our attention grabbed quickly and kept consistently. Marketing needs to be fast marketing rather than slow. You need to create a different mindset around the brand. Rather than just one advert you need multiple adverts and to build a brand, rather than just sell a single product.

Who is good at this?

The bigger companies are being quite successful because they’re building brands first and products after. Take Apple: they are really good at sustainability and that means a lot to us.

Who are Gen Z icons?

Increasingly I think it’s Influencers. We’ve moved away from mainstream celebrities to people that we can connect and relate with: you can see Influencers more as friends than just people on the TV. Through vlogging and other ways you can understand what they represent. They’ll do meet-ups. It’s all about connection and it’s why influencer marketing is so effective. Influencers also value their audience as people: they could sell something dodgy and perhaps get away with it, but it would harm them brand and con people they have a relationship with. They’re very mindful of this.

Who’s a big Influencer we should know?

There’s a Youtuber called Shane Dawson. He’s had a lot of success and people see him as a stable and interesting guy. 

Are there any bad brands for Gen Z?

Our generation don’t use Facebook much. Personally I don’t use Facebook. It’s a product for older people. It’s slow, it’s boring. Also, they collect loads of data. Less is more when it comes to data. We hugely value our privacy.  Sometimes I have firms say they want to tun a Facebook campaign aimed at Gen Z and I tell them not to bother!

Finally. Is all progress good progress good for Generation Z? Is there no sense of holding onto traditions or do we just speed up the world and make it as effective as possible?

I think we’ve come into a world where we are taught to fast and and effective. We’re the most connected generation ever because we have the internet and lots of our relationships are built over the internet. We’re also very conscious of everybody. We think the greater good is most important and we're less scared of monopolies. You know, people worry about Amazon having a monopoly. We care about companies that care for people.

Us too. Thanks Brandon!

Pop along to our event ‘PLATF9RM Presents: What Is The Future Of Work For Generation Z’, to hear more on what Brandon has to say, along with Daisy Cresswell and Lola Ray from Brighton5 and Declan Cassidy from Maker Club.

PLATF9RM Members’ 9 Top Albums For Getting In The Zone

You’ve got deadlines looming. An inner feeling of dread is mounting. Your concentration…. wait, is that a dog over there??? Nevermind. Where were we? Oh yeah– your concentration. It’s shot. Things are looking gloomy and that deadline has never looked so precarious.

But don’t worry. We’ve got you. Here’s the nine albums PLATF9RM members play when they desperately need to get sh*t done. These are tunes to bring us back to earth – to focus – when our brains threaten to drift into the stratosphere of endless procrastination. They’ll transport you to the ever-elusive zone and turn those “To Do” lists into “Bloody Well Done” lists.

And yes we know Spotify’s pretty good at churning out concentration playlists. But they're basically algorithms; we're proper humans, with proper recommendations.

 

Kerri Lush




My concentration album is most certainly 新しい日の誕生 by 2814

Released in 2015 on the London-based Dream Catalogue's label, ‘Birth of a New Day' is a mystical, heady journey through a Blade Runner-esque cityscape. Often tied to the vaporwave genre, this album brings together ambient-electronica (a la Tangerine Dream or Vangelis) with an imagined sci-fi future dystopian aesthetic. On paper it should be a distraction, but I find the sound induces a wide-eyed state of productivity.


Zoe Brownrigg




RX Y is an alternative to Bon Iver for those who who love Bon Iver but don’t want to be distracted by their favourite songs whilst working. RX Y’s peaceful guitar and indistinguishable lyrics will lull you into a calm work-flow. Also very good as background music to yoga.


Cliff Ettridge




I have a go-to album that I use– usually very late at night – when I simply have to hit a deadline: Pieces in a Modern Style. Pieces in a Modern Style by William Orbit.

This simply is the album to let your mind get lost in. If you are trying to focus, it acts like an aural massage. It bathes you in very simple electronic strings and its smooth sounds allow you to concentrate fully.

It's not an album you have to try hard to listen to whilst working. It's more a soundscape that envelopes you. Simple, soothing, soaring, mellow: it inspires thoughts and focuses the mind.

Once playing, I tend to forget what time of day it is. It could be 1.00am in the early hours, it could be 8.00am in the morning, even 3.00pm in the afternoon. It usually goes on late at night but, when I'm wrapped up in it, I could be anywhere.


Lana Burgess




My ultimate concentration album is Tomorrow's Harvest by Boards of Canada. The opening track, ‘Gemini’, starts with a filmic fanfare that sets the scene for a productive writing session like nothing else. The ambient electronic sounds are calming and progressive, keeping me focused and blissfully lost in flow as I write.


Pete Blunden




So for me, it'd have to be the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit's third album, Stay Gold. All their albums are exceptional, but this one gets the most plays. There's something about the steadily beating drums, flowing guitar and passionate, echoing vocals that provide an overwhelming sense of calm. I often catch myself thinking in multiple directions at once, but those sisters focus my kaleidoscopic thoughts into a laser-sharp focus beam. Pew pew!


Abbie Swan




The Blaze - Territory. Short, but very sweet. With a gentle mix of instrumental electronics and emotive vocals, this album makes it easy to zone out and focus on whatever is in front of me. As a designer I definitely need upbeat music to create a fast working pace, so this works perfectly.


Dale Blackburn


Generally speaking I’ll look for something instrumental and rhythmic. I want to avoid getting distracted with lyrical content or ambient drift. Often this can range from hip hop to post rock to electronic music, with some of my top artists being Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Explosions in the Sky, and Dawn of Midi. However, my definitive “getting stuff done” album would be Tycho and their album Epoch:

It’s got the right balance of instrumentation and dynamics, with the shifting rhythms and melodies setting a decent pace to work at. I particularly like their mixture of analog and digital


Jim Turner




When I need to get stuck into something proper and create some good work, it has to be an album that helps my mind shift into that state. I want to be transported and lifted out of the normal trudge to some other place where the sparkling mind stuff can happen. You’ve gotta let that magical transformation occur to be able to create something out of nothing.

Astral Weeks has got to be the one. Released in 1968 when Van Morrison was in his early twenties with a band of jazz musicians he’d never met before. It’s a transcendental album that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Each song is a perfect meditative spell to take you to that elsewhere we’re looking for, where creating good work is baked right in. So, put those headphones on, play ’Madame George’ and see what happens.


Maddy Zoli


I'm one of those people who really listens to anything. It is hard to pick just one favourite, but speaking of my work I know exactly the genre of music that really helps me getting "in the zone". While I work on my illustrations, I usually listen to a mix of bossa nova and jazz music from a unique Japanese band who do Studio Ghibli covers. Some people think that jazz is kinda "messy" but paired with bossa nova’s milder melodies, it is perfect to relax the mind and keep concentration on what you’re doing.

 

Check out these other great blogs that PLATF9RM members have composed...

PLATF9RM Members Tell Us About The Most Inspirational Women In Their Lives

Emma Croman: My Perfect Brighton

Guestblog: Kerry Watkins - 2018’s Social Media Trends That Every Business Should Know

You’ve only got to take a nap and something has changed on social media - a new feature, a different algorithm or new metrics. And it can be hard to keep up! But these are four key trends that I think have had a really positive impact for many businesses.


Instagram ‘Stories’ take over!

2017 was a big year for Instagram Stories and brought us the Stories Highlights feature - allowing us to save our Stories content. Good for all marketers out there who couldn’t quite get to grips with ephemeral content only lasting for 24 hours! ‘Stories Highlights’ allows you to create saved packages of your Stories and make them available online for all eternity (or until you decide to delete them). And because highlights are saved on our profiles, stories can receive many more views if they are saved. You can also see all your old stories in Instagrams ‘Archive’ - I loved it when this feature appeared! - where you can go back to your old Stories (well, ‘old’ as in more than 24 hours old!) and add them to Highlights if you wish.


Facebook Advertising Gets More Sophisticated

You may have noticed at the start of 2018 that the reach of your organic Facebook posts took a dive. (Again!) So whilst this was good for us in the sense that we now see more content from friends and family, we’re not seeing brand content. Hence the need for an advertising budget. This year has seen brands investing more in ads outside of the typical ‘single image traffic ad’ - including Instagram Story video ads, Store visits ads and FB messenger ads. We’ve worked with a few businesses recently who have seen great results with Messenger ads as it gives them an opportunity to build a rapport with potential clients without taking them away from Facebook. It’s really worth spending time looking at the different campaign types on offer from Facebook and thinking how this could help your business. It’s still such a cost effective platform compared to all other networks.


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LinkedIn video grows

In 2017 LinkedIn rolled out native video and many businesses have seen a big increase in reach and engagement with their connections. Even though they were the last to the party with video, LinkedIn does offer a unique platform for B2B marketing. Video regularly out-performs static content and the reasons are simple - the movement of visual content catches our attention and keeps us engaged. It takes less effort to consume video content than written content and, in the world of B2B sales and marketing, building trust is key and video does that. Over the next couple of years, we’ll be seeing more and more video on all networks and I’d definitely recommend getting involved.


Shoppable Instagram

Last, but by no means least, Instagram finally rolled out shoppable posts to the UK meaning that any ecommerce site could tag products in Instagram posts, giving the shopper a more seamless shopping experience. You need to sync a Facebook catalogue with your Facebook shop so Instagram can link products directly to your website. Not always as simple as it sounds though - trust me, I’ve heard many people banging their heads on their desks trying to get this working. Once set up, it is a really valuable feature that makes it a much smoother consumer journey, especially because Instagram still doesn’t let us hyperlink to URLs in captions! One thing at a time though I guess.



Kerry Watkins is the founder of Social Brighton, a boutique social media agency passionate about helping businesses achieve their goals through social with a tailored approach.


Social Brighton are a small team of social media experts specialising in strategy development and consultancy, training courses and workshops and a more hands on approach to managing social media and paid advertising.


Kerry is leading a PLATF9RM Learns session called ‘How To Be A Social Animal’ on September 5th. Book your place here.