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The Shift #16

Day three of the digital diet and I’ve fallen off the bandwagon.

I had to use LinkedIn to post on a client’s page and saw I had a reply from Sarah Townsend about her new book, Survival Skills for Freelancers (treat yourself, she’s put her heart & soul into it). Then I read Eddie Shleyner’s email newsletter and saw he’s giving away a micro-course in copywriting. A compilation of tips from him and his LinkedIn followers—great idea. I had to leave a hashtag on his post to get a copy.

So, I did that quickly and logged off. It’s work stuff, I told myself. I’m not scrolling mindlessly on Instagram.

The only way to avoid using my personal accounts for clients is to set up a work email address to access Facebook and LinkedIn, which I’ll do. I used Hootsuite for a while, but it’s easy for messages to go out on the wrong account… had a few mishaps.

Thoughts so far on the digital detox: I have more time, headspace, and feel calmer. I’m not missing social media, and I’ve made more calls, so actual conversations.

But I now realise the major challenge is EMAIL. I’ve been checking my emails several times a day to see what’s happening (not much since I last looked, especially now, I’ve unsubscribed from mailing lists).

This displacement activity has to stop.

Just think of all the extra time I’ll have for Babbel and books.

It was Digital Detox Day on 5th September and Zoe Sugg’s campaign (#IAMWHOLE) was trending on YouTube. She’s encouraging people to quit social media (and their phones) for a day and support their mental health, to raise awareness and funds for charity.

I popped into WHSmith to buy Wallpaper* and you can’t move for mindfulness mags. Breathe, Teen Breathe, Flow, Psychologies, Unplug. You can flick through magazines, but you can’t test a pen anymore—where’s the logic in that? Testing pens is a meditative, mindful task and something I’ve done since childhood. Back to school, = new pens.

So, I bought a Parker pen (security tagged, a tenner, must write nicely, surely?)

Nope. It feels scratchy and thin despite having a medium nib… very disappointing.

No leaving autographs in pink glitter pen on scrappy bits of paper, no perfume testing, & no free nibbles.

Shopping feels so soulless these days, it’s no wonder we’re not bothering with the high street.

1/ Mara Abrams—Go with the flow—I realise my digital detox is about being in the flow and doing deeper work. How do you maintain a sense of flow that brings you joy and is it more powerful doing it as a group? Mara Abrams is a social innovator & entrepreneur, and founder of the Flow Collective, a platform for redefining entrepreneurship. She teaches innovation and incubation workshops across the world. I enjoyed her DO Lecture on flow & creativity—watch it here. (DO = Ted Talks meets Burning Man on a farm).

2/ The Noun Project—need an icon for a project? This site aggregates symbols created by graphic designers around the world. Use it to tell visual stories, create infographics, build interactive games, or whatever you like. It’s a fantastic resource for typographic symbols and design history of the genre. The aim was to build a global visual language that everyone can understand and use. A central repository for common icons, “things such as airplanes, bicycles, and people”.

They also host iconathons with designers, content experts, and volunteers working in small groups to focus on specific issues, e.g. democracy, transport or nutrition.

3/ Content Readability Guidelines—a collaboratively developed universal content style guide, based on usability evidence, created by Content Design London. “A couple of conversations on Twitter led me to wonder if a universal style guide would be a good idea,” says founder Sarah Richards. “I see many content designers spending time talking—arguing—about points of style when often accessibility and usability show what we should do.” The aim was to create one place where the community could share knowledge and a style guide that’s accessible and evidenced.

Invaluable if you work with content & they’ve just published a book on content design.

Readability Guidelines wiki
Join the Slack channel

4/ Yuno Juno Freelancer Rates Report 2019/20—insights into day rates & project lengths among the UK’s tech and freelance community. It’s based on over 25k bookings on Yuno Juno in 2019 and Q1+2 2020. Now available as a download for the first time.

Good to see multi-skilled freelancers are more in demand than ever. The average day rate for copywriting is £372 and content strategy, £542. The most common project—32 days. They also interviewed some of their freelancers about rates, project lengths, and the future of freelancing.

Download the report here (no sign up required). Share it far & wide—keeps things transparent and useful when quoting on projects.

5/ Venice Biennale/Nomadland—it’s a miracle this went ahead given that Cannes didn’t, and most festivals have gone online. No big Hollywood films this year—this was a more traditional, low-key affair and celebration of world cinema. One to watch: Nomadland with Frances McDormand as a woman who loses her home and joins a growing movement of US nomads on the road, searching for work, meaning and a new community. It’s based on the excellent book by reporter Jessica Bruder.

“To live mobally has a lot to do with the economic disparities in our country,” says Frances. There’s no political statement – it celebrates the resilience and creativity of older Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive. “We’re leading you to a community that has made some very difficult decisions, and Chloe [Zhao] is telling their story.”

The Biennale website is sprawling, and it’s not just cinema—art, architecture, design, dance, music, theatre, education, & historical archives of contemporary arts.

They also hosted VR online this year. If you missed out, here’s a review of a virtual trip from a sofa in Seattle.

Venice Biennale channel
The Guardian roundup

Thanks for reading.

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Blog Business Remote work Tech Wellness Work

Remote working – an end to the office as we know it? 

Office workers have been catapulted into the biggest ever remote working experiment during the global pandemic. How are employees adapting to the new normal of working from home full time – and how can we fine-tune our workstyle to avoid a new phenomenon: Death by Conference Call?

New research reveals productivity, happiness and office culture are booming with the shape of the office set to change forever:

  • Almost 3/4 (71%) of office bosses are pleasantly surprised by team productivity during lockdown despite more than half (54%) being nervous about their teams remote working before the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Over half (52%) say their organisations are MORE productive remote working than in an office – a surprise to almost 3/4 of bosses
  • Nearly 2/3 (58%) of office workers say remote working provides them with more autonomy to do their job in a way that suits them
  • 1/4 (25%) believe they’ll remote work at least half the time after the pandemic is over (compared to 10% before)
  • 70% of business owners and 78% of senior management agree ‘remote working is the future of my organisation’. 34% of business owners are considering moving to an entirely remote office

Nice to have some good news, especially as the lockdown measures (and remote working) look set to continue indefinitely. The study, conducted by Hoxby, a virtual agency and consultancy on the future of work, also found:

Effective Working: 71% of office workers think their employer is well set up for remote working. Almost 2/3 (58%) say remote working provides them with more autonomy to do their job in a way that suits them, rising to 63% of those in a managerial position. Only 19% say they prefer being in an office.

Happiness: 57% of managers think remote working is good for mental health, with only 14% recognising any adverse effects. Two-thirds of office workers agree that though the current situation is challenging in other ways, they are enjoying the fact that remote work means they can spend more time with their family, rising to 72% of those with young children. Only 8% say teams seem unhappy as a result of remote working.

Office culture: Over half (55%) of office managers say office culture is just as strong as ever, with office chat continuing just in a different form. Only 18% of office remote workers have seen any negative impact. 

The future is now
So, will this signal the end of 9-5 office culture? 1/4 of workers think they will remote work at least half the time after the outbreak, compared with just 10% before and 12% of the workforce say they’ll be working entirely remotely after the outbreak, compared to 4% previously.

Before the pandemic, 45% of office workers surveyed were required to be in the office ‘at all times.’ This is expected to fall to just 27%.

How might UK offices change shape?
70% of business owners and 78% of senior management agree that “remote working is the future of my organisation.” The lockdown has led to many reviewing how their businesses are structured. 42% plan to reduce the amount of office space they need. 49% think they’ll encourage more remote working. 34% are considering moving to an entirely remote office.

We still need to fine-tune remote working
48% of office workers admit they’re relying on conference calls too much and would like to learn more about other working practices rising to 63% amongst business leaders. 44% of workers are on conference calls “most of the day”, 54% of those who are managers. Junior team members need more support with set up.

Stuck in the 9-5
It seems we’re stuck in the 9-5 mentality, a throwback from the industrial age. 77% of business leaders expect their teams to work similar hours. Only 12% are trying to buck this trend for their teams, i.e. trying to escape the shackles of presenteeism. 34% of senior managers said remote working was something they wanted to do more of but felt they should be ‘seen’ to be in the office.

Great to see such positive outcomes after just five weeks of lockdown – with no practice run! I hope companies take this on board and rethink how they operate. As the founders of Hoxby, Lizzie & Alex point out, “Changing working practices is about putting people, their lives, their work, their mental health, all of these things centre stage… To avoid the ‘death by conference call phenomenon’ and ‘coat on the back of the chair’ expectations of presenteeism… “Organisations need to keep a watch on remote working practices and evolve and better them by gaining a deeper understanding of technology and virtual leadership.”

It’s time to leave the industrial age behind and adopt digital age working methods to improve diversity, productivity, and wellbeing – happy workers tend to be loyal ones. This shows remote is the future of work and there’s no going back, so it’s just a matter of fine-tuning our methods. It’s is an opportunity for companies to trailblaze with workstyles that are more flexible, more productive, and more enjoyable.

Use this time to get your head around new technologies, build online communities, and do things differently. There are more effective ways of working that may cost less. If it’s working well why would we want to go back to the old way of doing things?

Hoxby has a #RemoteAgainstCoronavirus campaign for a better remote working strategy. I recommend these articles:

Recognise that Remote Working is not the Same as Working from Home

Focus on wellbeing and mental health – The importance of, and practical tips for, looking after your mental health during the crisis.

Don’t be paranoid and start to view success based on output – five rules for leading remote teams.

The importance of building virtual communities and community engagement.

Hoxby’s remote working strategic approach.

Censuswide researched 1,003 office workers currently working through the pandemic between 22/4 – 27/4/20. 

Photo by Georgie Clarke.





Blog Hastings Wellness

Warren Lee Wilde:👇🏼my highlights are my art 👇🏼

“Oooh, I love your fringe,” he peers at me over the top of his gold shades as I walk into the salon.

I’m loving the look. Jungle playsuit, gold safety pin necklace, pencilled brows, and platform trainers.

“Take a seat. Can I get you a drink?” asks Amber.

“Water, thanks.”

I sink into a black leather chair, already sticky from the sun. It’s Saturday morning at Urban Hair & Beauty, St Leonards and I’m here for a blow dry. There are three women sat behind mirrors and another next to me, flicking through a magazine. One of them is leaving and my stylist, Kelly, knots a headscarf around her curls to hold them in place. “You look fabulous,” I tell her as she leaves and she smiles. I sip my water and turn to the woman on my right. “What are you having done?”

“Oh, just the usual. Trim and tidy.”

Kelly is ready for me so I settle into the chair and surrender to the shampoo. “Is the temperature ok? Would you like a head massage?”

My favourite six words and the marker of a good salon.

Jungle man is Warren and he’s busy chatting to his client as I sit down to have my hair dried. I catch the tail end of a story about his 11-year-old sister who is getting into dance and wants to try pole dancing. He rolls his eyes. “She’s like, Warren, can I have a Versace bag? I’m like, no girl, not till I have one first!”

“Great music”, I say to Kelly. Warren G. Christina. Kylie. Pounding through the speaker into my left ear.

“Yeah, it’s Radio 1. They play the best tunes on a Saturday morning. My boss doesn’t like it. She prefers Gold and Magic but she’s not here on Saturdays so we have it on. Our customers love it.” I watch Warren getting jiggy through the mirror.

He turns to me: “Didn’t I cut your daughter’s hair? What was her hair colour again?”

“Blonde-brown. Long.”

“Yeah, I remember. Didn’t she have a guinea pig?”


I took Julieta in a year ago to have her hair curled for her year six prom, so I’m impressed he remembered after all this time. I tell him she’s 12 now and has done a year at school in China.

Kelly sprays on some heat protector and gets to work with the straighteners. I tell her I have a pair of GHD’s. 20 years old, and still going strong.

“We use Cloud Nines. They’re made by the same guy who started GHD. There are three types and these are the thicker ones for long hair. I think they’re better.” She carries on ironing and I watch the steam rising while my hair flops in defeat. “It’s so satisfying.”

“You can recycle your GHD’s here if you want to. We sell Cloud Nines as well.”

Warren reappears holding a stunning bouquet of green and white flowers. “Who are they for?” I ask.

“My client. I’m invited to her party tonight on The Lawn. She’s an artist. I have to take something nice. Her daughter will be head to toe in Gucci…”

“Where d’you get them from?”

“The florist on Norman Road. She does all the vintage bouquets herself. £20! Can you believe it? I said, look, I’ve got £20 – what can you do, and she came up with these. Fabulous, aren’t they?” he has a sniff and disappears behind the Prosecco wall. Flowers, steam and hairspray.

It’s 11.30 am and I have serious hair to go with my LBD, fishnets and black Vagabonds.

“I love your look. Love monochrome. You always look fabulous when you walk past. Beautiful figure.”

This is why he gets invited to party on The Lawn with his clients.

“Likewise. So, what’s the look? I love the playsuit.”

“ASOS, darling. Head to toe. I do like a chunky trainer.” He leans in and whispers, “these are Versace though. I love clothes and dressing up. It’s mostly ASOS. Sometimes my friends buy me stuff to wear.”

I glide down London Road, buoyed by the compliments, music, service, and happy vibe. Only £15 for a wash and blow dry too. It’s a Good Hair Day.

@WarrenLeeWilde – 👇🏼 my highlights are my art 👇🏼

Urban Hair and Beauty, London Road, St Leonards. Tuesday to Saturday and late nights on request.

Blog Culture Spain Wellness

The Art of Tickling – Cosquillearte, Madrid

“How’s the soup, little Jep?” she asks him.

“You’ve not called me that for centuries, why now?”.

“Because a friend, every now and again, needs to make their friend feel like they did as a child.”

“How can I make you feel like a little girl?”

“You don’t need to, I feel like a little girl every day,” she laughs.

To tap into that energy Jep throws lavish parties for his aristocratic friends where they do the “best Conga in Rome”. He dances and has lots of sex.

Touch is a basic need, it connects the body and mind and keeps us in the moment. Not being touched enough can make us feel withdrawn, lonely, anxious and depressed. In Western cultures, massage is an expensive ‘treat’, a luxury rather than part of our daily routine, as it is in Eastern countries. Massage shouldn’t be something we have to pay a lot for, it helps us to feel connected to ourselves, the planet, and that youthful energy Jep is craving. I’m mindful of this when I see friends and like to give them a hug and a kiss hello because I know how important touch is and what a difference it can make to someone’s sense of well-being.

CosquilleArte in Madrid is a spa doing something a bit different. It’s ‘the world’s first tickle spa’ and has built up a steady roster of clients from children and teenagers to 70-year-olds, and is looking to set up franchises around the world. Intrigued? Here’s a comment piece by Andrew Kuzyk.

Tickling Therapy: No Laughing Matter

Laughter is truly the best form of medicine, right? CosquilleArte, which recently opened in Madrid, now offers half-hour and hour tickling sessions for $35 and $45 respectively in its treatment rooms, where clients can lie down on a comfy massage table…and be tickled. The name of this particular spa, CosquilleArte can be translated to “tickle yourself” or “tickle art” stated.

“My dad used to tickle me to get me to go to sleep, so it’s always relaxed me,” says owner Isabel Aires, who helped develop the tickling treatment with two trained massage therapists. “One day I just thought, why can’t I pay someone to do this, in the same way as I pay for a relaxing massage?”.

“There is no school for tickling”, she said. “We simply had to invent it ourselves.” With an environment much like many other day spas, the treatment takes place in a darkened room, with soothing music playing and a hint of incense in the air, Time’s Lisa Abend reports.

The client lies down lightly draped with a warm, soothing towel and then the sensual tickling, first with fingertips drawn along the relaxed body, then a delicate feather and so the tickle massage begins. “We use a variety of strokes”, says therapist Lourdes Nieto. “If someone is extra ticklish, we may press firmer. The idea is to completely relax them, not to stress them out in any way.” Abend, while extremely ticklish, confirmed that the treatment was in fact very relaxing and reported that everybody seems to leave happy and hooked on tickling.

Writing this article led me to think, as I have a hundred times before, how much physical touch can give comfort: the delicate stroking a mother gives to her child, the gentle rub on the back of someone who is grieving. Touch has great value, it communicates so much; it makes us all feel good when done properly of course. Our bodies respond to it. I don’t know how widely known this is, but if your partner is experiencing physical pain, light stroking or tickling, especially along the midline of the body, can help immensely.

Tickling stimulates the hypothalamus, which is part of the human brain that controls our body temperature, hunger and sensual behaviour. Many people, therefore, find being tickled and touched a sexual turn-on. If both parties are game then tickle away. Using a sleep mask or blindfold can actually enhance the sensations of touching and double the pleasure enjoyed. The soles of the foot contain concentrated bundles of nerve endings, over 200,000, which make the feet very sensitive and receptive to foot rubs or tickle rubs.

I have personally observed this to be true for myself and others I have touched. Most people are ticklish in some way, whether all over or just in a small “tickle spot”. One doesn’t usually have to look far to find a ticklish spot. Tickling and caressing makes us laugh, smile and feel physical pleasure. Some people like tickling for the way it creates bonding and brings you together, while others enjoy it in more intimate settings. Whether you are being intimate or simply relaxing, tickling can certainly lighten your mood.

Non-consensual tickling should never be administered on an individual…

CosquilleArte Vitoria

Photo by Emilio Garcia on Unsplash