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21st Century Work Life and leading remote teams

Brought to you by Virtual not Distant, the 21st Century Work Life podcast looks at leading remote teams, online collaboration and working in distributed organisations.

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Jan 2, 2015

Welcome to a tiny episode of 21st Century Work Life. I was actually just going to release a note saying that there wouldn’t be an episode today, but as I was about to do that, I got thinking about some work life related stuff and I thought, why not share some of it with you and make a mini-episode out of it.

I’m currently away from my usual base but I’m still able to have a presence in social media for example, thanks to the way that some of these applications allow us to create content one moment and release it the other. Blog posts can be scheduled, podcasts can be pre-recorded and scheduled in advance so that they come out when I want them to, I can automate my tweets so that it looks like I’m active, when I might actually be completely unplugged and doing something completely different… To be honest, I didn’t schedule many tweets during the Christmas period, and that also made me think, I don’t really celebrate Christmas, I’m self-employed, and the kind of work I do means that I can pretty much set my own hours, and yet I still seem to follow conventional working patterns.

If I don’t do any work over these days, I don’t feel that guilty and I just say to my employees, that’s myself, it’s fine, take a break, everyone else seems to be taking time off. What’s even more baffling to me is that even though I’ve been living in the UK for more than half my life now, I still take the Christmas period as ending on the 6th January, which is when it ends in Spain, on epiphany. So for me, I think it’s all right to take a break until then. Again, even though none of my clients expect me to work all the time, and even if I schedule a lot of my own work, there is this voice in my head that keeps saying, there’s a time to work and there’s a time when it’s ok not to work.

Maybe it’s because still, the majority of the workforce works for 8 hours a day, on 5 days of the week, that the self- employed also seek some kind of structure by following the more conventional timetable. For example, yesterday I was listening to a podcast, the Rocking Self Publishing podcast (which by the way if you’re a writer or inspiring one, is well worth a listen) and the guest, Libby Hawker, said that every day, she sits down and writes for eight hours, as it’s her job. Very interesting that she didn’t say, I aim to write 5,000 words a day as that’s my job. Or, I work 2 hours in the morning, 2 in the afternoon and 2 in the evening.

And it’s true, that I’ve heard many writers, especially those who’ve moved from full time employment, saying this kind of thing. There are also those who have a more flexible approach of course and in the end, everyone finds different patterns that work for them, but I find it interesting that even when you follow what might be considered a less conventional career, you still, or should I say, I still, follow the more conventional work patterns. I suppose, it’s still what I grew up with and it’s still how most of the world works, so it’s easier to find some kind of structure to adapt to it.

So this is probably as much as I’m going to say today. I just wanted to say hello as it’s Friday, and I do like following a schedule with my podcasts, as in, the podcast comes out on Fridays, as is the case with this one, or Tuesdays, with the Spain Uncovered. This gives me a deadline, and so gives my work structure which is even more important when you’re organizing your own work. It also means that you listening and looking forwards to the podcast, know when to expect it. Of course, last week was a bit different as I didn’t want to release a podcast on boxing day for some reason (I suppose I’m going back again to conventional schedules) and so I released the retrospective on Tuesday. And talking of this episode, which by the way was great fun to record as it was only myself and Lisette talking about certain aspects of work and the future of work that had caught our eye during 2014, talking of this episode, thanks very much to David Roswell for the comment on the blog and also, thanks to Robert Svenson for the lovely tweet about that same episode. He described it as “an engaging conversation on workplace dynamics and trends” – I really liked the way you summarized that, Robert, thank you.

So, see you next week. If you don't fancy popping onto this site every week to listen to the podcast,  just look for the 21st Century Work Life on your podcast app, iTunes, Stitcher, whatever you use and Subscribe. Over the next few weeks, look out for interviews with Marta Texidor from Yammer and Shannon Hughes from Udemy, and of course, for more virtual coffee with Lisette.

Have a great start to 2015!