Work Untethered #20 #cong20


As work becomes untethered from time and place, what impact does that have on employees.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. The potential for growth in this challenge
  2. The paradigm shift from bum in seat to output
  3. Fitting work to the human, not the other way round
  4. Changing from time to energy management

About Rose Barrett

A Galway woman now residing in Mayo (and loving it). Co-Founder & Community Manager, Grow Remote. Own a kayak and don’t use it enough.

Contacting Rose Barrett:

You can connect with Rose via email and Twitter.

By Rose Barrett.

In so many ways 2020 has been a year of bringing society to a slow down, reducing our lives to the barest essentials and stripping away so much of what we thought we needed. While much of what we have missed are things that are truly key for us to thrive in life, the challenging of what many of us had taken for granted gives us a chance to really think about what we want from life and from our societies.

A particular area that has come up for attention is work. So many people went from assuming that the basic 9-5, in-office structure, where you are judged by whether you are there or not, was how work “should be”. While 2020 has challenged us in so many ways, it’s rare that challenge doesn’t give the opportunity for growth.

From early on we heard from employers who wanted to prepare for their teams going suddenly remote. But their main concern was how they would now track their staff (this was a relatively small number of the employers we spoke to). It was obvious that a serious refocus was required.

Remote working advocate, Laurel Farrer, has a great analogy for helping leaders and managers understand how they should approach their remote reports; “I don’t need to watch you wash my car to know my car is clean”. Of course, there is more nuance (when isn’t there) to using output only tracking of productivity at work, but for many businesses, and employees, this is a positive paradigm shift. A bum in a seat shouldn’t equal a job being done. How, when, and where we work has been given a serious reset and businesses that told us it wasn’t possible for them had it proven that it is (this isn’t to take from all the issues, health, and safety, social life of teams etc that need to be solved for in remote working).

So as more companies and people learn you don’t need to only sit at a desk for a set number of hours, and that work, done well, can be measured in new and different ways, we started to see more teams build greater flexibility into their week. More people are embracing no meeting Tuesday and managing their energy rather than their time. We are deferring more to asynchronous communication (i.e. not in real-time, e.g. email, Slack etc) allowing people more time for deep work, time to think and respond, and giving introverts and neurodiverse team members greater time and space to communicate their ideas.

As work becomes more untethered from place (the great migration back to regional Ireland continues) it’s also becoming unhitched from time and traditional processes. How we collaborate is adjusting. The use of voice memos, shared documents, and online whiteboards increases. I can’t wait until Zoom fatigue becomes a thing of the past, as we move beyond trying to replicate our in-office pasts with back to back video calls. While it’s taking time, we are learning to fit work to the human, instead of the other way around. There is a great focus on the importance of culture in companies and teams, on discussing how we communicate to fit the styles of team members and learning to map your energy to the types of work you do, so you can design a workweek that is more productive, feeds more energy and leaves you with more time to spend with family and in the hills (or whatever your nature of choice is).

The conversation around things like the four-day week is progressing and is being taken more seriously, by a wider section of society than ever before. Being forced to see that remote working isn’t only for a select few has helped us to question more of what was taken for granted in our work lives. As we become better able to find companies with cultures that fit our values, or a team and workweek that fits our energy and personality, we feel the change from living to work to working to live.

What are people searching for when they search for community? #22 #cong19


What we can learn from the various terms people use when they search for terms like “community” and the related questions.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Community is a great TV show
  2. So many are searching for the meaning/definition of community
  3. People are invested in community
  4. Even salads have communities!

About Rose Barrett:

A Galway woman who moved to Mayo because she could and would like others to have that same freedom. Grow Remote elf, part-time kayaker (too part-time).

Contacting Rose Barrett:

You can follow Rose on Twitter or send her an email.

By Rose Barrett

What are people searching for when they search for community?

I mean literally.

I find it’s an interesting world in the land of search engines. We can learn so much from how and what people are searching for, uncovering desires and sometimes things that aren’t even clear to the searcher.


The word “community” – what are people searching for (In Ireland specifically)?

  • community (TV show or term, it’s a bit of an uneven split) – [2,900/mth]
  • community games (egg and spoon anyone?) – [2,400/mth]
  • community credit union – [1,300/mth]
  • community welfare officer – [1,000/mth]
  • community shield (I had to look this one up, football it seems!) -[1,000/mth]
  • community centre/center – [1,000/mth]

And on and on.

When people are searching for the word “community” by itself, in Ireland, approximately 880 of them head off to the Wiki for the TV show (it is very good) but a good 460+ head to the Wiki on the term community.

And I think there’s good reason for this. Many people ponder what community means, particularly those working to build, strenghten or improve communities.

I’ve seen people cringe at the use of the word because it’s meaning has been tarnished and I wonder how we can take it back? Or should we even bother?

So back to those searchers – you might be heartened to learn that out of those people searching for the word “community” approximately 190/mth of them visit the website . This signals people who are looking to take action, involved in a community or looking for ways to give back. And if only a fraction of that number are taking action then I’m living in hope.

Another 43/mth (estimate) are visiting
seeing what sites people are visiting gives us a great insight into what people are interested in, what they are working on and looking to achieve.

And an honourable mention to Fingal CoCo who are getting a very healthy 32/mth visitors to their page about “Community and Leisure” where citizens can learn about programs, public spaces and projects. This should be standard across all local authories and communities, where citizens know how and where to access this information.

Searching for community…

Approximately 320 people per month are searching for the term “community definition”. A little over 90 of them each month are heading for a medium article titled “What does “community” even mean? A definition attempt & conversation starter.” where we learn that even salads have communities now (it’s on Facebook, of course). I also discovered a very interesting tool called “The Community Canvas” which warrants further investigation.

I find this so telling. 320/mth searches and, even more, telling that it’s an article they land on the most because after that article the next group of 50/mth searches is heading to the Merriam-Webster website. We can only guess that the second group are busy and need an answer now as to what community is, but the first group are more into storytelling?! From there it’s a mix of back to the “community” Wiki and of other dictionary websites.

For me the idea of community is so broad and depends so much on context that I’d like to see people accessing more varied articles and stories about what community might be for various groups.

“Community meaning” (140/mth) is bringing them on a similar route to above and “community synonym” (140/mth) might have been a good search for me to complete to help spice up this writing! No surprise that get’s the lion’s share of that search.

Community Questions

And what about the questions that people ask around community?

  1. ” What is your definition of community? “
  2. ” What do you mean by a community? “
  3. ” What are the types of community? “
  4. ” Why is a community important? “
  5. ” What is the purpose of community?”

And much more. The specifics of the language is so important. Someone who asks “What is the benefit of community?” may need a different answer to someone asking about it’s purpose. And for us, the community people, the builders, strengtheners and action takers. Looking at the different words people use to ask their questions helps us to delve deeper into what community means to people, what it could mean and helping to answer the question of it is is (or might be).

We’re finding that we’re talking about community from many different angles in Grow Remote, from the community that is growing around the organisation, to the communities that we are striving to enable. So by taking time to consider these questions and how we might answer we look deeper into where we might find better language, better answers and better action. And if you’re still looking for some answers, well let me “Google” that for you!


I Have an Idea, Tell Me a Story #65 #cong18


Don’t get into a Twitter argument, instead, tell a story.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Storytelling helps us to capture attention

  2. It also helps us to give context

  3. Twitter is a tough place for nuance

  4. Storytelling is a skill to be developed

About Rose Barrett:

Rose here, I like to paddle boats and peddle digital consultancy to small businesses. I also end up volunteering for all sorts, particularly when it’s related to improving rural communities or using digital resources to help spread ideas.

Contacting Rose Barrett:

You can follow Rose on Twitter or send her an email.

By Rose Barrett

“Neither revolution nor reformation can ultimately change a society, rather you must tell a new powerful tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story” – Ivan Illich

We all know that it can be hard to communicate an idea.  For me I see this regularly in my life as an internet person and it’s obvious on a platform like Twitter.  And I’ve been there myself. Tried to communicate an idea only to fall flat on my face. I swear Twitter was designed with this in mind.

So I took a step back to see how those who are successful in getting an idea across do what they do.  And I noticed a pattern, many of them are great storytellers. I love storytelling. It brings back memories of my family pub when the electricity would go out, candles were lit and stories were told.  It’s no small thing that storytelling is so powerful a communication tool and in the communication of ideas, it is a resource ready to serve.

A struggle of communicating ideas we often encounter are patterns of thinking.  Many of us presume “You say → They think” but it’s rarely this straightforward.  When we communicate we’re often forgetting about the level of difference in perception, or thought patterns,of our intended audience compared to ourselves.  We might get that there are differences but we could miss the mark on how big those differences really are and fail to actually frame the idea as we would like to.  And these differences can make connection difficult.

Culture always complicates the task of communicating ideas and the greater the difference in culture, the greater the task.  But storytelling gives us a method of overcoming some of this difficulty through the use of framing. The words we use or how they use them can greatly impact “how” an idea is heard or understood.

Storytelling makes us more deliberate, which means we are paying more attention to which pronoun we use or the tone of a piece.  As a marketer, I’ve learned to test messages and see what works. I started to wonder about doing the same in my community work and behavioural research backs this up.  Communities that are more deliberate in their message, in the story they tell, have higher levels of confidence in their community.

Storytelling also allows an easier emotional connection.  Our barriers go down when we listen to a story and we’re more likely to connect with the teller of the story.  So if the idea they are trying to communicate is challenging for the listener, in the telling of the story there is a greater chance for the message to get through.  Basically, keep me entertained and I’m less likely to react to that uncomfortable feeling straightaway. If you’ve caused me to smile I want to keep liking you, so when your idea challenges some of my thought patterns, well you made me smile, so I’ll give you more of a chance.

I know I had a habit of storytelling in person from growing up in an Irish bar but I hadn’t brought it through to my online life, I hope to change that in the future.  So many of the best talks or presentations I’ve encountered have been well-crafted stories and those of us trying to spread ideas, particularly ideas that might be challenging, either in how radical they are or in their complexity, storytelling allows for better framing and to create a connection that keeps the listener on our side just long enough for the idea to be heard.