Nika Talbot

Hello, I'm Nika, a content designer and UX writer based near Brighton, UK. Tech storyteller | Author | Remote work enthusiast.

May 27, 2022
Published on: Linkedin
2 min read

I've raised Β£90 for the Mental Health Foundation. Huge thanks to everyone who's donated to the challenge; you've put a massive smile on my face. I'm using the Nike Run app, which is free and combines coaching, workouts, and music – syncs with Spotify. I love it. Treat me like an athlete, and I'll become one πŸ˜‰

The NUJ mental health conference was excellent – an inspiring morning of personal stories, advice, new research, learnings, and best practices. And a desk-based Pilates session with a tea towel! Read the write-up and download the toolkit here.

Top takeaways: The power of networks and environmental resilience – mental health is too often individualised, emphasising resilience as if it's up to you to get on top of things and be strong. But there's only so much you can do. Mental health is a wider issue and a collective effort and as much about compassion and workplace transformation as our own daily routines.

It's much bigger than depression and anxiety. We're struggling with global issues: climate change, world politics, financial stress, cost of living crisis, and now another virus to get to grips with…

Michelle Stanistreet talked about how remote working can be a disconnect: we force ourselves to turn the computer on, plaster on a smile and crack on with it. "I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling knackered and done in." Some comfort in sharing personal stories and experiences – journalism can be siloed, and you're taught that you are not the story; the story comes first. But "you don't have to be a robot at work and leave your problems at the door. We're humans, not robots." We need to learn from other industries.

Great to hear what action reps are taking in the workplace and what companies are doing to support their workers:

The Financial Times has an employer-led mental health network and is exploring the impact of being asked to return to the office. They have unlimited counselling for employees.

Penguin Random House is looking at 'the productivity issue' – if mental health becomes an economic issue, it will be taken more seriously. "If you tot up how many man-hours you're losing and people who can't work properly – it's an intro to having those conversations. You're losing money by not investing in the mental health of your employees." They also offer progressive, unlimited counselling.

Interestingly, PRH researched nine divisions that are prone to stress – editorial and PR being at the top (yep, the work never ends). They have mental health first aiders who are signposted, so easy to find. And at meetings, people check in with their teams and score themselves out of 10. If you give yourself a '3', one of the first aiders will check in with you later. I like that idea – an excellent way to self-monitor.

All well and good, but it got me thinking about what support is available for solopreneurs and small business owners.

It helps to be part of a union – the NUJ has supported me emotionally and financially throughout lockdown, and I have a freelance family to turn to. But I also need a local support network when working from home alone. There's no one to remind you to take a break and a pressure to keep going and growing, which is a fast route to burnout. All my costs have gone up – just had a rent increase of Β£55, and I can't afford to delegate right now.

There are some useful resources in the toolkit for freelancers, which they will build on (contributions welcome). I mentioned Leapers, a fantastic project supporting the mental health of the self-employed and small biz owners. They've published their first guide to looking after your emotional wellbeing when your work for yourself.

Counselling is great but expensive long-term (my friend calls the Samaritans for free when she needs a chat). NABS is the advertising and media industry's wellbeing charity. Masterclasses, evening talks, speed mentoring, events, career coaching, and an advice line. Their core services are free.

This month, I've joined Caveday to co-work online with other remote workers worldwide. Guided sprints, check-ins with the community and a forum. It's brilliant. A reminder to take breaks and chunking your work into small tasks makes things feel manageable. Capturing the little wins is a big part of resilience and building motivation. I've enjoyed connecting with people worldwide and hearing about their projects. Here's my code if you want to give it a try.

Observe the Observer! Affordable space for living, working, learning, leisure, and community action

IF_DO on rescuing a Hastings Landmark after 35 years of decay

This week, I've booked into The Observer Building Hastings open day to check out the new co-working/co-living space and Creative Digital Hub. After three years of renovation work, it's finally opening this August. It's a landmark property built in 1924 to be the office and print works of the Hastings & St Leonards Observer, back when local papers had their HQs in the town centres they covered!

Excited to check this out – it would be fun to be one of the first tenants in an inspirational building and see what I can give back to the community. Good to hear they want to get some tenants into the space to create life and shape its future rather than having a shiny new building with everything decided.

It's an extraordinary building – thank God it wasn't demolished in 2005 as planned and replaced with a budget hotel! More info at https://hastingscommons.com/

5 Things πŸ–

🌟 Self-care for solopreneurs, with Rowena Hennigan (Future is Freelance, Xolo) – insights into how Rowena runs her consultancy company, RoRemote, providing wellbeing and mentoring services for remote corporate workers. How she's grown her business around her own internal values and lifestyle, built out her service delivery by collaborating with other solopreneurs, and championed self-care and wellness: for freelancers and everyone.

Really enjoying this new podcast by Maya Middlemiss/Xolo – diverse guests and topics from social media tips & tricks to the freelance frontline in Ukraine!

Listen: Self-care for solopreneurs, with Rowena Hennigan

🌟 Can walking meetings lead to healthier lives? (Doist). A conversation with Spot's CEO on how opinionated technology can support healthier collaboration and lives. Part of a future of work series where they're chatting with other remote leaders. I struggle with sitting and staring at a screen all day, and l love walking, so will give this a go. Scientific research shows we're more creative when walking vs sitting. Good for cosy team meetings (no screen sharing allowed!)

Read: Can walking meetings lead to healthier lives?

🌟 Relocation of remote workers with Pieter Levels from Rebase (Building Remotely). What are the possibilities of changing your citizenship as a remote worker? After being nomadic for years, Pieter (founder of Nomad List and Remote OK) decided to relocate to Portugal. To help others interested in the process, he founded Rebase – a relocation service for remote workers. Interesting discussion on burnout and work-life balance, creativity, and major trends in the nomad community.

Listen: Relocation of remote workers with Pieter Levels

🌟 Digital nomad topic takeover (Unsplash). Microsoft Surface is taking over the digital nomad topic to highlight the ability to work from anywhere. In May, you can submit images capturing the nomadic lifestyle, showing tech use while working from anywhere – coffee shops, co-working spaces, or the back of an RV. They will feature the top submissions on social media. Inspo for your summer break! Good to see the platforms investing in this topic – Rowena is also developing a digital nomad course for LinkedIn Learning.

Read: Digital Nomad Topic Takeover

🌟 Please don't pay for UX design mentorship (UX Planet). Some things shouldn't cost money. How the line between mentoring and coaching is hard to distinguish. Many of the same services a coach could offer you are also commonly discussed in UX mentorship, which is largely free through sites like ADPList. Mentoring is the evolution of networking, and it's a two-way street. Help others, and you'll become a more confident, empathetic leader.

Read: Please don't pay for UX design mentorship

HRH Platinum Jubilee: A delicious four-day break to look forward to (and glorious weather for street parties and cheese tasting, hopefully). Don’t leave any in the fridge, it's a huge distraction… Whatever your thoughts on the royal family, HRH Queen Elizabeth II is an icon of female power. The first-ever monarch to reign for 70 years, and what a fantastic job she's done – an eye in the storm.

My friend Romana is baking two cakes in her honour, and has invited the NHS CEO to come and judge the Bake Off competition. He has graciously accepted. A creative way to get your great ideas noticed by the C-suite…

A toast to longevity πŸ‘ΈπŸ» πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ 🍷

β€” Nika

Written by Nika Talbot, founder of award-winning Firebird Studio. Content designer, UX writer and consultant at Havas Life. Based near Brighton, heart in Italy ❀️

#80Miles in May Challenge: I’m raising Β£150 for the Mental Health Foundation - you can make a donation here.

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