10 Things Remote Working Has Taught Me About Learning and the Future of Work

Remote working is the future of work

Nursery. Primary school. Middle school. Secondary school. Undergraduate degree. Masters degree. Post-graduate Certificate in Education. Teaching. For thirty years (almost consecutively) I’ve been a cog in the state education machine. And yet, the best learning I have done has been in the first four months since I left full-time teaching/education and embraced the world of remote working as part of a distributed team with Social INK.

Here are the ten things remote working has taught me about learning and the future of work.

1) The Future of Work Is Looking Increasingly Decentralised

Work as we have known it since the Industrial Revolution is finally evolving. There’s no longer a need for conveyor-belt workers performing mechanical tasks. Automation has long taken care of that. Instead, with improved technology, greater global access to the internet and faster connection speeds, employers are now able to recruit from a global talent pool.

International borders, commutes into work, and skills gaps (like the factory line) will also soon be a thing of the past. Being able to potentially cover all time zones with your distributed workforce and offer a worldwide 24/7 service at a fraction of the cost — that’s the way the wind is blowing.

2) People Are Taking Back Ownership of Their Time

In order to work remotely successfully, you need to be a self-starter. You have to self-motivate and be driven to complete your tasks without having someone looking over your shoulder. It won’t work otherwise. Get up. Get dressed. Start work. Manage your day. But, without the commute to “the office” and without the endless and unnecessary meetings, all of a sudden there are extra hours in the day.

If you’re clever with your scheduling, you can even begin to find time to do things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the working flexibility to do so. How you use your time is up to you. So long as what needs to get done, gets done.

3) Knowledge Isn’t as Important as Skills

You don’t need to know what an oxbow lake is or how it is formed. Or what happened to Henry VIII’s wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived).

Knowledge is freely and readily available if you are willing to seek it out. Everything you need to know is a mouse-click or tap away. But skills. The ability to do something. To add value. That isn’t so abundant. So take time to learn new skills. You never know when they may come in handy.

4) Resilience Is Key

Never give up. Keep trying. Circumstances change. Change is inevitable. It’s how you deal with it that really matters. Learn from failure. I’ve yet to meet anyone who gets everything right first time. Persistence, stoic stubbornness in finding solutions instead of wallowing in self-pity, will drive you to success.

5) Remote Working Requires Adaptability

This is a bit of a combination of Points 3 and 4.

Change happens. Equip yourself to deal with it. Adapt to the changing needs and demands of society/clients/technology. Embrace it as personal and professional growth. And be ready to adapt again in the near future.

6) Be Open and Receptive to New Ideas

You don’t know it all.

There are many people who know things that you don’t. Be open to this. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried. You may just profit from it in some way.

7) There’s an App for That

Whatever you need, whatever it is you do, there’s an app for that.

Equip yourself with the tools that will make you more efficient. And if you find that there isn’t an app for your specific need, you may just have stumbled across a business idea.

8) The Internet Is Your Office

There’s no need for a physical office space (unless you’re in retail — maybe). Do away with the costs of having one and work from wherever you please. It’s freeing and often inspiring. Change your scenery and reap the rewards.

9) Creativity Does Not Mean Art

The creative subjects at school are the arty ones for arty people: Art, Drama, Music.

Actually, creativity is bigger than that. It’s about problem-solving. Being able to offer solutions to problems is less the domain of the artist and more that of the critical thinker. Scientists are creative. As are writers, mathematicians, chefs, manufacturers. Everyone is creative. Figure out how to tap into that and you’re golden.

10) The Best Learning Happens Outside of the Classroom

‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ ~ Albert Einstein

Make of that what you will.

Please follow and like:

There’s More To Wearing Odd Socks Than You Think

Odd socks say more about you than you may think.

Recently I put on a pair of odd socks by mistake. They’d accidentally been coupled together in the wash. I didn’t realise until it was too late, and they were on my feet and in my shoes.

I felt uncomfortable.

Not physically. Psychologically.

Perhaps it’s a streak of OCD. Maybe it’s social conditioning. But I couldn’t stop thinking about my mismatching socks.

I was acutely aware that they looked odd.

And whereas some people wholeheartedly embrace regularly wearing odd socks (even deliberately buying them that way), I was experiencing inner turmoil.

So I took a philosophical approach.

Is There More To Odd Socks Than Meets The Eye?

Wearing odd socks is more than just having a quirky dress sense. It’s more than laziness, or losing items in the wash, or a nonchalant approach to footwear. It says a lot about you as a person.

What?

It begins with a pejorative.

What’s Wrong With Being Odd?

“Ha ha! You’re the odd one out!”

“He’s a bit odd.”

“Oddball!”

It’s strange how “odd” is seen as a negative, almost derogatory, term.

What’s wrong with being odd? Apart from not being divisible by two?

Well, actually, that could be the likely source of the problem.

The Safety Of Symmetry

We love things that are even. Symmetry is comforting. Just look in the mirror.

Two eyes, ears, arms, legs, etc.

Same number of teeth, toes, fingers, ribs, nostrils, on each side.

And anything singular is bang in the middle. Nose, belly button, naughty bits.

The things we see, day in, day out, are what we guide ourselves by. Symmetry and even numbers represent safety and normality.

That’s why odd is considered unappealing.

It’s safer to conform and be part of the crowd than risk standing out.

After all, isn’t it better to have balance?

A world where people know their place — in line with everyone else.

Easier to control.

We can’t have hordes of freethinking, free spirited individuals running wild in society now, can we?

That just wouldn’t do. It would be chaos.

Or would it?

Oddity Is Just Another Word For Unshackled Creativity

Take a look at a Picasso painting. Odd.

David Bowie. Odd.

Salvador Dalí. Very odd!

And yet, there’s little doubt that they were masters at their craft. Creative geniuses with a different world view.

It’s this distinctiveness that sets them apart from everyone else. That’s why they are memorable. Revered.

Because they’re not like everyone else.

They embraced being odd. It allowed creative freedom. And, as a result, it helped them stand out from the crowd and carve their own, unassailable, creative niche.

Stick Out Like A Sore Thumb

Negative idioms like this abound. Conformity is the message. Odd is not good.

Wrong.

Setting yourself apart IS a good thing.

Being the odd one out can be an advantage

Be contrary.

Have confidence.

Don’t be swayed by what other people think or say. It is merely an opinion.

It’s ok for people not to agree with you.

Don’t feel you have to shy away.

Be the odd one out.

Wear odd socks.

You’ll certainly get noticed.

And who knows where that might lead!

Gareth

 

 

Main Image Courtesy of Michael Wright on Unsplash

Please follow and like:

Slow Down! Why busy people need to stop and disconnect.

Slow down and watch the world fly past - Train rushing past long exposure

Have you noticed how push notifications actually SHOVE their way loudly into your day? How instant messaging requires INSTANT REPLIES? Otherwise you end up having to scroll through a whole list of posts in the group chat to find out what the hell is going on! If you recognise these tell-tale signs you need to slow down. Breathe. Disconnect. Gain some perspective.

When Push Turns To Shove

Likes, shares and retweets are the new currency of approval and measures of success. We’re infinitely more connected, globally. Everything and everyone is pushing its way onto our phones and into our lives. Notifying us that we are indeed connected. And reminding us that we need to remain connected.

Yet, we’ve become totally disconnected. From real life.

We’re so busy chasing after faster broadband or super fast fibre optic connections. Moaning that 3G is too slow. Groaning because 4G just about manages to buffer a feature length film in full HD.

When are we getting 5G?

Everything is speeding up.

We need to slow it down. Stop. Disconnect. Unplug.

And let our natural creativity flow.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” ~ Ferris Bueller

Speed Limit

Here’s an interesting anecdote from someone I know who had to go to Speed School:

“If you drive above the speed limit you might arrive a few minutes earlier at your destination. But you greatly increase your chances of not getting there at all.”

This isn’t exactly revelatory.

Better late than never?

Life’s a marathon, not a sprint?

Slow and steady wins the race?

We’ve all heard these idioms, or variants of them, more often than we’d care to mention. Usually delivered with the gravitas of a sage by a parent. Or grandparent!

Beautifully cliché. Eye-roll inducing. Yet with their basis in a very simple truth.

As old and wrinkly as they may sound (not your parents/grandparents), there’s wisdom behind these idioms.

What’s the big rush?

Stop And Look Around

You only get to appreciate the pace, and fleetingness, of life once you’ve experienced enough of it to look back and wonder where it all went.

So, yes. What’s the big rush?

It’s amazing what you miss when you’re not looking. Ever bumped into someone or something whilst staring at your phone as you walk through town?

Look around you.

Children (especially children who cannot yet read) are highly observant. They don’t miss a thing.

They’re not distracted by the words and symbols that bombard us daily. These things hold no meaning for them. So they take in their surroundings. Completely.

Young children will notice the smallest detail.

Something that may have been there all along. Staring you in the face. But, as a busy adult, you fail to see. Overlook it because there are so many other things drawing your attention. Too much on your mind. Far too many distractions.

All too often, you can find yourself looking at the wrong thing.

Disconnect. Stop viewing the world through a phone.

And these things are getting in the way.

Reducing your productivity. Curtailing your creativity.

This Is Your Life

Rob Dial offers an interesting assessment of our Life Timeline.

With the best years of our life spent as a working adult it’s probably wise to seek enjoyment in what we do. But more importantly is to take time to actually live.

Nobody on their deathbed has ever said “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” ~ Senator Paul Tsongas

Shove those push notifications away!

They can wait.

Disconnect To Reconnect

We may all be infinitely more connected. So civilised and modern. Extremely knowledgeable and advanced. Yet detached from reality and our surroundings.

Everyone is always busy.

It’s as if we need to fill our lives with things to keep us occupied.

But actually, it’s ok to do nothing.

It’s ok to be bored.

And it’s perfectly fine to allow yourself to look out the window and daydream.

Disconnect. Then reconnect. With reality.

Take Time

You can’t make time.

Don’t try to find time.

Take your time instead.

Slow it all down. Take a good look around. Don’t just hear, actually listen.

Observe the world and all its subtleties.

Notice things.

Your capacity for creative thinking will increase.

As will your productivity.

 

Gareth

 

Please follow and like:

It’s Been An OMBelievable Start to 2018: January in Summary

Cheeky monkey smiling at the camera. Just like me this January!

It’s been a whirlwind start to 2018. January has been a month full of exciting developments. Here’s my OMBelievable summary of the year so far.

January: Out With The Old, In With The New

The bubbly had barely left the bottle and things were already afoot. There was no hanging about. By the end of the first week of the new year I had re-launched my website with a fresh new template.

There was a new blog with the promise of regular new content and a determination to make things happen.

Straight into fifth gear!

Welcome OMBoard!

January 15th, and the days were about to get a lot brighter.

This was the day I became an OMBassador and member of the OMBoard. A real honour. It was an epic email to wake up to from Nick Entwistle (so much scrolling!) and a powerful end to the second week in January.

This is INKredible!

The dust had barely settled on the OMBoard announcement. But there was more big news to be had in January.

Only seven days had passed since becoming an OMBassador when I officially joined the Social Ink team, January 22nd, as Content Marketing Manager.

I’d previously worked with Chris and the team back when they were Just Consulting Ltd. as a copywriter and editor. I love what they do and I admire their work ethic. This was something I wanted to be a part of.

A total no-brainer!

Time to make an imPACT

I cut my teeth with Social Ink pretty quickly. My first blog post went live January 24th – The Value of Social Media for Business: Where’s the ROI?

This was quickly followed by a piece for #NationalStorytellingWeek – Social Media is Storytelling: Build Your Brand and Boost Engagement on Social Media Through Narrative.

Since then the content has been coming thick and fast, with further blogs, podcasts, Facebook Live discussions and infographics amongst the ideas already in the pipeline.

Keep checking the Social Ink Blog and Facebook Page or join our All About Digital Marketing discussion group on Facebook for updates.

Jan in 60 seconds! (43s actually)

To crown it all off, I set myself the challenge of completing at least one OMB for every brief set in January. Just to keep the creative juices flowing.

And here they all are. Edited together in celebration of one helluva month!

So, here’s to February!

(And every month after that)

Gareth

 

Please follow and like:

Say “yes” more. Except when you mean “no”!

Yes written in grafitti

I’ve found that my default response when asked if I’d like to do/try something, go somewhere or meet someone new is typically a noncommittal “we’ll see”. Which in fact is a dressed-up “maybe”. But in actuality is an unequivocal “no”. I have decided, upon reflection, that I need to say “yes” more.

How many opportunities have passed me by? How many experiences have I missed out on? How many people have I failed to meet?

What is the total loss to the self, thanks to the unholy trinity of “we’ll see”, “maybe” and “no”?

I need to say “yes” more.

It’s important to say “yes”. But only in response to the right questions.

Only yes is yes written in chalk on a blackboard.

Since realising my love of “no” and disdain for “yes” I’ve started noticing similar patterns of behaviour in other people. It’s like waiting for a bus, and then two come along. Or spotting people glued to their phone screens as they walk down the high street. Or worse still,  scrolling through their feeds whilst out “socialising” with friends down the pub or in a restaurant. Once you notice it, you can’t un-notice it. You start seeing it everywhere!

People say “no” (or any number of the more passive utterances) all too readily. It becomes an instant reaction. Perhaps to buy time to consider what you’re being asked to do. Maybe because it’s become ingrained through habitual use.

I think it’s borne out of the fear of the unknown.

We’re scared to take risks.

New experiences, people, even opportunities, represent risk. And as an unknown quantity our immediate reaction is to shy away from them.

We are afraid of the unknown.

Will Smith described it best, recounting his confrontation with fear when skydiving in Dubai. We’re not actually afraid of the act itself. Once we’re there and experiencing it we commit and enjoy. It is the anticipation that frightens us.

“You realise that the point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear.” – Will Smith

The build-up to an opportunity or new experience is scary. Because we have time to think.

Once we allow ourselves too much time to think, we convince ourselves not to go through with it. We psyche ourselves out. All of a sudden our brain has conjured up an infinite number of reasons why we should not be doing this thing that we will likely benefit from greatly. And that’s when it becomes easier to simply say “no”. That’s when we automatically make up excuses, reasons why “now is not a good time”.

The fact is, “now IS a good time!” If not now, when? This realisation has been a catalyst for me, and something which I’ve written about previously. It’s time to get out of your own way!

Don’t fear the unknown.

Say “yes” more. Unless what you should be saying is “no”.

Come again?

Let me put it differently.

How often have you said “yes” to a request (or a passive “ok”) when what you really ought to have said was “no”?

I do it all the time. Why is it suddenly so hard to say “no” when that’s exactly what you want to say?

How many times have you been asked to do something extra at work, when you’re already up to your eyeballs, and said “yes”?

Don’t be afraid to say “no”. You’re already quite good at it when it comes to opportunities for personal growth and experiential development!

Say what you mean and be clear about it.

Say “no” when you mean “no”.

Don’t be afraid of what the other person might think of you. You don’t need to placate them with “ok”. Be clear. Say “no”.

Similarly, don’t be afraid to take risks. Take opportunities when they present themselves. Don’t fall into the trap of always saying “no” or “maybe” and never doing anything. Say “yes”. And mean it.

The anticipation, the build-up, will be scary… The event itself will be exhilarating.

Say “yes”. Unless you really have to say “no”.

And remember… “No” still means “no”.

Buy try to say “yes” more.

Gareth

Please follow and like:

Get Noticed. Get Out Of Your Own Way.

Silhouette of a man, standing in the shadows, desparate to get noticed.

It’s time to get noticed. Again.

I’m not the biggest U2 fan. I think their best music can be found in their earlier albums. However, they never fail to strike a chord (pardon the pun) lyrically.

There’s always a single or two on every album that has lyrics that really resonate. None more so than their recent release, Get Out Of Your Own Way.

It’s been a long hiatus. I haven’t written a blog post in years. And I’m pretty ashamed and appalled by this fact.

I don’t buy into empty New Year Resolutions or cliché New Year, New Me rubbish.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle

 

Actions speak louder than words. Just do it. Call it what you want. I haven’t been doing it. I haven’t been putting my words into action.

New Year is an arbitrary point in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. January 1st in the Gregorian Calendar is an arbitrary starting point to the New Year (fashioned so that Easter falls at the same point in the lunar cycle every year). So, in an equally arbitrary fashion, I have decided that now is as good a time as any to get noticed again. It’s not a New Me. It’s just Me. I’m back.

I’m blogging. Posting. Sharing. Updating. Creating content that interests me. If it interests you too, great!

When I first launched my website in 2013 I had a fairly regular blog where I wrote about the creative process, explored the ins and outs of social media, commented on adverts that interested me and creative work that inspired me. That content drove traffic to my website. It helped me get noticed. It gained me followers. Clients. And, most importantly, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing. Creating. Sharing. And all the conversations and interactions that resulted from it.

Old garetalvarez.com landing page - Welcome to my workshelf.

Then I just stopped. I didn’t stop being interested, I just stopped writing about it. I didn’t have the time.

Sorry. What?

I didn’t make the time. So I stopped getting noticed.

And it’s this that I am going to change.

This is my plan to get noticed

One Minute Briefs Logo

Taking inspiration from One Minute Briefs (@OneMinuteBriefs) and Nick Entwistle from the Bank of Creativity (@BOC_ATM)and now Trunk Agency (@TweetsByTrunk) I plan to “get sh*t done” this year.

Write it down. Post it. Share it. Whatever it is. Just do it. There is no point in doing nothing. So let’s do something.

Create scribbled in pencil.

Nick once said, “there is nothing more important than the work you do, to get the work that you do noticed.” Or words to that effect.

And that’s what I plan to do.

This year I plan to spend more time promoting my work. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter whether people like it or not. You can’t please everybody. And if you set out to try to please everybody you’ll create nothing meaningful.

If you don’t take the time to work on promoting the work that you do you’re as good as invisible.

It’s not just good enough creating. Share what you create. Be visible. Get noticed.

And that’s my plan this year. I have a new website. It’s going to be cleaner and neater. I will update it regularly with new content. New posts. My latest work and endeavours.

Now is the time to “get sh*t done.” Do work to get the work that I do seen. Share more. Post more. Create More. Get back into old habits.

No more excuses.

It’s time to get out of my own way and get noticed! Again.

Gareth

Please follow and like:

Catatonia – What to do when you’re stuck

Being stuck on a task can feel a little bit like this.

There’s always a point in the day, week, month, year, your life, when you get stuck. It’s that point when you find yourself staring a lot. Trapped in a middle-distance focus. Eyes partly glazed. Brow partly furrowed. Brain partly dead.

What’s Going On?

You might be tired. Overworked. Bored. Uninspired. Bored.

So you stare.

And things just continue to happen around you. Out there on the periphery.

You half-acknowledge people. You robotically go through the motions. And when you finally snap out of your catatonic trance you have no recollection of anything that’s happened! 

It’s like being drunk. Only cheaper.

Now What?

These are difficult times.

Perhaps not in the grand scheme of things, but they can feel difficult. Especially when there are things that need doing – there always are – and you just can’t bring yourself to do any of them.

Not interested in the slightest.

In fact. Maybe, if you ignore them, they’ll go away?

Better still, they might get done by someone else!

That’s unless it’s work that only you can do.

You’ve checked your smartphone for the hundredth time. Let out a big long sigh. Done everything imaginable to procrastinate and avoid the inevitable. But it still hasn’t gone away.

What’s The Solution To Being Stuck?

So, here’s the trick.

Banging your head against a brick wall is only going to give you a headache. And, at most, you might scuff the paintwork.

It’s pointless. You’ll get nowhere. You’ll feel worse.

Instead. Do something fun.

Distract your mind with an activity that you love.

Give your mind a rest. Change your focus. Free the subconscious. Let it wander. Break out of your trance.

STOP STARING!

Try a smile. Have a conversation. Write something. Draw something. Mess about on Photoshop. Do a One Minute Brief. Watch a silly YouTube video.

And when you’re done. When you’ve finally forgotten the burden that was weighing you down. Go back to it.

It’ll get done.

Unless the reason you’re stuck is because you went out for a couple of drinks on a school night and you’re hungover.

Then, tough.

Drink some water and soldier on!

I’m off to drink some water.

 

Gareth

Please follow and like: