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?

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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?

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.

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Have you ever wondered why Americans don’t have passports? Well, me neither but now I know… In America, no employer is legally obliged to give their employees paid annual leave. So, unless employees are well-off or fortunate enough to have an employer that grants this amount of days, they can’t go on holidays (vacations!). This is a startling observation and one that has left me, somebody who is desperate to live in America, feeling a little cold. I have a job I enjoy but when I didn’t, the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning was knowing that I had some holiday time booked up. Even now, I try to keep my holidays in mind when I’m having a particularly hard day at work.

So for me, the news about America’s employment  laws leaves me with one question… How low is morale overall?  

Time away from work is good for both physical and mental health. It is extremely beneficial to employees but of course that means that overall, it’s extremely beneficial to employers. If an employee is feeling both mentally and physically sound, they’re more likely to be productive and an asset to the company they’re working for.

Recently, Richard Branson announced that he’s letting employees take as much holiday time as they’d like. In contrast to the standard American employment laws, this is a breath of fresh air. It seems far more humane, up-to-date and far more fair. But is it?

I don’t want to accuse Mr Branson of reverse psychology or anything along those lines because I’m sure this was a rule brought in to improve employee’s wellbeing and of course, it’s been brought in with a level of trust. He’s trusting employees to take the holidays they need without taking advantage of him or his company. On paper, this is fantastic and something that all employers should aspire to but in reality, and maybe it’s just me, I’d be pretty nervous about requesting time off.

The one thing about having annual leave is knowing where you stand with it. If you get 24 days a year and you’ve taken 21, you have 3 days left. Pretty simple stuff . If you have an unlimited amount of days off, to take at your own convenience, you may be left a little nervous about taking more than the statuary amount. You may even fear being judged by your peers, your manager etc which may ultimately lead to less time off!

 So where do we draw the line? Between no time and too much time, where can we find a happy medium that suits both employees and employers? How much time is enough to refresh and motivate employees and is Richard Branson actually pulling a fast one with his “ethical” rule?

 

 

Introducing: Noxious

For lovers of quirky, kitsch, trashy, otherworldly jewellery, there is Noxious.

Noxious Shop

 

Noxious has a range of Jewellery from £1.50-£18. From chokers to semi-precious stones, owner Carrie Wylie has compiled a jewellery store for those who like to stand out from the crowd. Combined with Carrie’s blog, Noxious is an excellent store for those that want to escape from current twee trends and are looking to support smaller stores that make a difference.

The great thing about Carrie is that she is a small business lover. She supports lesser-known brands and, due to being obsessed with fashion, spends most of her free time seeking out new brands and stores to explore and promote. In this sense, she’s not only a great shop owner but somebody very worth keeping an eye.

Noxious only started this week but I’m excited for the future!

Science and technology Kickstarter picks #1

Kickstarter is one of my favourite places to browse on the web. It’s inspiring, interesting and on occasion even quite funny. I especially love the technology section. As a huge science and new technology lover, I get so excited about potential projects and how innovative people are. It’s also nice to occasionally donate to the campaigns I’m passionate about, even if I feel the rewards are somewhat lacklustre.

Shots Stats Challenger

 

Shots Stats Challenger is the ideal component to any tennis player’s game. It allows you to instantly view stats after every swing including the speed of your racket, your time on court, amount of spin you’ve applied and whether it’s top spin or slice, your number of forehands, backhands, serves and smashes, the impact of the ball on your strings over time and your stringing log which tells you the number of shots before each restringing and luckily, it’s a standalone app meaning it doesn’t have to be connected to smartphones, tablets or pc’s in order for stats to be read.

The rewards aren’t exactly plentiful- at least $125 has to be pledged before backers can receive a Shots Stats Challenger and before that, there’s mostly t-shirts (because what more could you want?!)  but even with that aside, this seems like a fantastic innovation that could revolutionise (did I really just say that) for the true tennis enthusiasts out there.

HappiJar

HappiJar is probably the cutest app I’ll ever discuss. It’s almost sickeningly sweet. Rated number 3 in Apple’s Best New Social Networks, HappiJar encourages users to share their happy moments with their friends and family by connecting HappiJars to one another. These jars get filled with various buttons that are linked to happy memories. It can be anything so small as finding Nutella in the cupboard to meeting the newest member of your family.

This is already an app on iOS but this particular Kickstarter is looking to bring the HappiJar magic to Android. They’ve almost hit half of their £3,000 target and rewards include £12 of buttons, your own personalised button and HappiJar t-shirts.

Graffmap

Graffmap is a space for street art enthusiasts to map, share and admire graffiti online or in person. Users can search nearby for graffiti or discover whats new around the world. It’s currently actually available online but the creators of this unique project are looking to create an app for both iOS and Android. This is a really exciting and is a fantastic showcase of alternative art. I even think it could possibly enhance travel/holiday experience for those who enjoy this kind of art and are willing to go on adventures searching for it!

Graffmap have raised 3.5 thousand dollars out of their requested 9 thousand and only have five days to go. Perks include access to Graffmap beta, t-shirts and canvases by street artists!

MBlok

MBlok is a more comfortable and accessible offline alternative to The Cloud. It boasts of 256GB of storage as well as 300 hours of battery life. It connects to devices (phones, tablets) offline through Bluetooth and is perfect for those who find themselves always running out of storage space for music, movies and photographs. Due to the fact that it fits in a palm and can be carried around everywhere, unlike Cloud storage, users can rest safe in the knowledge that their files are safe.

MBlok has reached over $166 thousand of the requested $120 thousand and has 11 days to go. Perks go from your very own sapphire blue or emerald green MBlok to engraved MBloks.

And Finally…

Every once in a while I look into old science and technology Kickstarters and find some real gems. This one in particular is pretty exciting and surprisingly simple

GoPlug bags offer USB and standard power ports within a bag. No more leaving the pub because your phone has low battery (what? Is it only me?!), no more worrying about extra batteries for devices… We now have a plug on the go and the bag is surprisingly nifty and not as bulky as expected!