Remote working – Is it right for your business?

Do you work from home? A cafe? A coworking space? Maybe you should – remote working is on trend. I mean, just look:

See? It’s never been more popular.

More and more businesses are offering the option to work from home, or work wherever you have a computer and internet access. It makes sense: if your job basically just requires a computer and an internet connection, what’s stopping you from taking that work wherever you feel like?

There’s obviously a minefield of potential issues with working from home. If you have kids or pets you might find them tugging at your heels for attention or barking through a conference call (note: if your child barks a lot maybe it’s time to sit them down for a chat). There are also various other temptations to distract you: radio, television, a lack of authoritative presence pressing you to get the hell on with it and stop reading Facebook.

But then is working in an office really going to be better? Many places opt for something open plan, which is a superb way to be constantly distracted by chatter and those quick informal questions people might fire at you. Oh, and meetings.

Evidence suggests that remote workers put in more hours and achieve higher levels of productivity. However, this increase in productivity is probably in line with those extra hours rather than because remote workers are inherently more prolific.

Mostly I think it’s down to how you want your people to work, and the kind of expertise you can find nearby. If you need to hire someone on a different landmass to get the job done, then you’re probably going to end up with remote workers generally. There are plenty of tips out there for those thinking about the logistics of such a decision.

Personally, I do think remote working is the future of any industry where you primarily only need a computer and an internet connection. Who doesn’t want to be able to solve problems for a client in Manchester while drinking a latte in San Francisco when working as a contractor for a company based in Copenhagen? Go mobile!

Who Do You Support?

11820454_1622229041376347_1332669682_n

Supporting your community. Boosting the local economy. There are lots of high-minded reasons to buy from local businesses, but ultimately I do it because I get better service and meet interesting people who actually care about what they’re doing, rather than just trundling into work and waiting to go home. Plus, you just don’t get cool points for going to Starbucks. You don’t want people thinking you’re basic, do you?

Here are some places I like:

House Martin

House Martin is one of the best barbers in Glasgow. Bet you never thought you could have a relaxing experience with a razor at your throat, but the informal atmosphere, impeccable aesthetic, and expertise of the staff contribute to an experience that feels decadent but comes at an easily affordable price.

Plus they have a huge old bank vault through the back (pictured above), stocked with cigars and a full poker setup. So get over there, have a seat, have some coffee (did I mention their coffee is pretty great?), and get your beard done.

Coffee Chocolate and Tea

I used to think that CC&T was a well-kept secret until I found it mentioned in 2014’s Wallpaper Glasgow City Guide. Even so, it’s mercifully quiet. The house blend is superb and they’ll grind you a fresh bag to take home.

I have this theory about coffee places: you can either have great coffee or a decent seat. CC&T continues to prove this rule and thankfully falls into the former category. I think one day I’ll go get coffee from somewhere and they’ll just have these big pointy spikes for sitting on so you can slowly be impaled as you have the absolute best coffee of your life.

RHA 

I love my RHA headphones. I put a set through the wash and they continued to work fine though the sponge bits on the inside of the headphone fell out. I bought some noise-cancelling ones and they may be a fire hazard as I only noticed there was an alarm going off when I took them off to leave my desk.
They’re pretty, they’re solidly built, and they’re made in Glasgow. What more could you ask for?

Hanoi Bike Shop

Apparently Beyonce loves it (and by ‘loves it’ I mean ‘posted an Instagram picture of a wall outside it’), so that’s going to be enough for some people. This is our go-to place when visitors are in town and we need something different but also tasty. The experience is distinctive: you pick some small bits and pieces to share around the table and a bigger thing (usually pho) for yourself.
Situated on Ruthven Lane, it’s right beside Hillhead subway. No excuses if you’re in Glasgow.

Nord

Nord Fine Foods (previously Nord Kitchen) is an upcoming Scandinavian-themed food truck that will, with any luck, be servicing the Glasgow area in due course. Have a look at their example menu and tell me you don’t want something off that right now, damn it.

So what local businesses do you support, and what do you like about them?

Medium – A Means to Express Yourself

I love Medium. Maybe it’s just the clean layout and attractive fonts that make almost every user-created slice of content seem like an insightful thinkpiece from a glossy magazine. Maybe it’s the fact that people put up soul-baring stories or anonymous relationship insights. Maybe it’s because interesting entrepreneurial types share their hopes and fears.

Of course there are entrepreneurs here. It’s a new technology, a shiny bauble to toy with. It’s also the product of Twitter’s co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams. I guess after creating a platform known for its brevity they wanted to try the exact opposite? But then Williams invented Blogger (both the platform and the term), so maybe he just wanted to finish what he started, or change it, or push it in a better direction.

“It turns out the Internet, like every other technology, doesn’t trend toward good or bad. It is just a convenience machine for what people want,” he said. “Television was going to make us all better people, smarter and better educated, but people ended up sitting back and watching sitcoms. We want to create something that rewards other things that have more lasting value.” – Evan Williams [source]

Lots of people talk about why Medium is great for writers generally, and trans writers in particular with its effective ways of diminishing harassment. I can’t comment on that. I’m still only a passive participant. I haven’t even left a comment. But the toolset is seductively streamlined so I think sticking a few things up there is inevitable.

It’s built with thoughtfulness in mind. Just look at the writing prompts. In my mind a writing prompt is a sentence or a paragraph that gives you a question or two to answer. On Medium a writing prompt has responses from writers, quotes, pictures, a whole host of ways to be inspired. And hey, you even have people like Matthew McConaughey give muddled inspirational screeds delivered right to your feed if that helps you put something out there.

There are obvious drawbacks – publishing regularly on a content platform instead of your site can have no SEO benefit. But the pros might outweigh the cons: a built-in audience, automatically readable-looking articles, a simple interface, a wealth of social interaction.

So check out the Entrepreneur tag, read a few thoughtful articles, and see for yourself.

Decision fatigue and how to avoid making poor choices

I had originally written this extremely long-winded article about decision fatigue and the general uselessness of advice on the subject, but I’ve decided to pare it down to the vital points.

What is decision fatigue?

Also known as ego depletion, this is where things that try your willpower damage your ability to make average to difficult decisions. Things that can cause decision fatigue include:

  • Clothes purchasing choices
  • Choosing to wage war on another country
  • Decisions that affect your business
  • Watching a sad film and doing your best not to cry
  • Being tempted by food during a diet and abstaining

It’s clear what can drain your willpower will vary depending on your situation. I imagine somebody that declares war on a country every other day would probably be a lot less depleted by it than someone reading this post who somehow had the task dropped on them. And someone who buys the same few shirts is less likely to be affected by it than someone who needs to find the latest designs or whatever.

Why should I care?

Because you run a business. You’re asked to make many important decisions each day. Imagine if it turned out you were making poor decisions because you hadn’t had an apple or a Boost bar in the afternoon? People literally went to prison because of decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue makes it hard to think about big-picture ideas and causes you to concentrate on maintaining the status quo, refusing to make trade-offs which would be beneficial.

What can you do about it?

Have some glucose. Your willpower is affected by the glucose levels in your brain. This is why dieting is actually very difficult. You need willpower to refrain from eating, and yet this simple sugar is one of the biggest factors affecting your ability to control yourself. Have some fruit, or even just buy some flavourless glucose to cut out as many unnecessary calories and potential temptations.

A dose of glucose has been shown to completely reverse ego depletion, according to the above-linked article.

Rest. Sleep is a great way to get rid of unnecessary brain gunk.

Strategise. This is probably one of the most important ones. Make your tough decisions earlier and don’t make any during the evening. Use some life-hack magic rituals to convince your brain that the things you’re dealing with are much less stressful or willpower-demanding than you would normally think. Understand the habit loop and create routines that avoid willpower-triggering situations. Essentially, remove as many difficult decisions as possible.

To make it simple: your willpower is a precious resource so only use it where absolutely necessary.