Moving out of home… Remote working vs Co-working: which is it for me?

Recently, we moved into a co-working space after almost three years working from home. We’re now spending our days in a gorgeous loft full of light above a café with great coffee. Why did we decide this? A few different reasons, one being a real need to be around people again. So, let’s take a look at what we’ve learnt about both ways of working…

Working from home is a boon for productivity. Despite many people thinking that kind of freedom could lead to outright laziness and procrastination, it’s just not the case. The quiet brings a calm and focus into your work that allows for total immersion. That immersion (no interruptions, distractions or noise) stimulates not just work but quality work. That said, it can also be downright isolating and frustrating at times – you can’t have a chat across the desk or ask a colleague a quick question.

Remote working means you avoid the annoying habits of your colleagues and it’s safe to say your coffee cup or leftover spaghetti won’t ever be stolen. You can play whatever music you like (even the bad 80s songs you don’t admit to liking) and there aren’t any office politics. But after a while you start to miss the person who talks over everyone at meetings, the guy who eats tuna at his desk and even the passive-aggressive colleague who is imagining your long, slow death while congratulating you on a job well done. Isolation will do that to you.

Co-working solves the isolation issue. All of sudden you’re meeting new, interesting, often creative individuals who are looking for a sense of community as much as you are. You still have the freedom to come and go (and if you’re having an off day you can still work from home). While you pay for a desk, you’ve got a designated workspace so your work and home life are better defined and your sanity is preserved. After a few years of solitary, you will pay for the privilege of working with others.

There are some drawbacks to co-working though. People breeze in and out and you don’t always have time to connect with everyone. Also, it can take some adjusting to work in noisier, more dynamic environments again. But there’s something truly satisfying about working in teams or with likeminded individuals (and this is coming from an introvert). While we can get annoyed and irritated, angry and sullen, bored and apathetic – if you do a few years on your own, you’ll be craving all those crazy, rollercoaster emotions again.

So, at the moment it’s co-working for us that is the clear winner but let’s see where the next few months takes us. If we’re spending too much money on coffee and good food, and we’re sweltering in our little loft over Summer, we might just reconsider…

BRG Learning and Development

Cutting through the noise: 7 Tips for social media and SMEs (Part Two)

In our last blog on this topic we talked a lot about planning, strategy and posting the right sort of content in the right channels (if you missed it and want to read it first, click here). Part Two takes DIY social media for SMEs a bit further, offering a further 7 tips to kick start your campaign…

  1. Boost high performing content. If you notice certain posts are getting engagement on Facebook, boost them. Don’t take Facebook’s word for it though (they want you to boost everything!), check out insights and analyse results yourself. You can also pin posts to the top of your page or re-post content that performed well in the past. Replying to people’s comments is also good practice and it keeps your post active for longer.
  2. Post content for your audience and people who know your audience. Make your content useful, interesting, educational and/or entertaining for your audience. Also think about people who are likely to see it because they’re connected to your audience. Create content that is easy to digest and that people are likely to share. For example, microblogging is becoming popular – think strong message, short delivery.
  3. When you’re designing social media, you can follow this process: 1. Choose your channels, 2. Find your voice, 3. Plan and automate, 4. Test and analyse, and 5. Innovate. Don’t be afraid to try new things and test, social media is a dynamic space and allows for experimentation. You will often discover that the things you thought would perform don’t, and those you think won’t, will!
  4. Try going live. Live crosses are a great way to deliver content to your audience in a personable way that’s pretty easy to get off the ground in terms of preparation. Share a little of your expertise with others for free, tapping into the ‘share economy’ mentality that’s developing.
  5. Hone these three key skills for social media expertise. Understanding video-editing, google analytics and social media algorithms, means you can take this social media thing pretty seriously. There are plenty of tools for video editing such as Magisto, iMovie, Lumify and Splice. When you’re using stock images, footage and music, check copyright and permissions first before using. You can access reasonably priced courses on analytics and algorithms on Udemy, and similar online course platforms.
  6. Say the most important thing you want to say FIRST. In your heading, first sentence or first few seconds of video, make your objective or point clear. Recipe for Vegan salted caramel pie? Say that. It’s not an Alfred Hitchcock movie where you’re slowly building suspense. Also, images and video speak louder than words.
  7. Create your own hashtag and change hashtags. You can’t trademark a hashtag, but you can create your own that you use consistently. Remember not to automate or cut and paste but change up your hashtags (or at least change the order of your hashtags if you use similar ones repeatedly) to avoid being shadow-banned on Instagram.

Hopefully that’s given you some helpful tips to kickstart your social media or make some changes to improve engagement with your audience. It’s a bit of a minefield but there’s so much useful material out there to educate yourself so you can extend your reach and make an impact.

If you missed the last blog post (Part One) and want to read it, click here.

BRG Learning and Development

Cutting through the noise: 7 Tips for social media and SMEs (Part One)

We’ve been learning a lot about social media planning and strategy over the last few months. Personally, the word algorithm makes me want to yawn or cry depending on the mood I’m in. But in the world of start-ups you’ve got to learn and do a lot of new stuff yourself to stay lean (even when you’d rather outsource to Romania).

We’ve been attending some great little workshops, listening to podcasts, watching tutorials and reading blogs – all to make sense of this social media puzzle. So, here are some tips we’ve collected that might be useful for you too:

  1. Schedule your social media. You can post spontaneously here and there but a plan and schedule is better for branding and the long-term. There are several scheduling apps (eg. Buffer) or use a calendar to indicate what day you’re posting, when you’ll post and what you’ll post. The more you can schedule and work proactively, the less pressure you’ll feel about social media becoming an ‘extra job’.
  2. Strategise your social media. Posting ad hoc content is great for a time but it isn’t sustainable. Come up with a strategy, for example, the ‘5:2 strategy’ if you’re posting daily. 5 days out of the week post ‘regular content’ (whatever that looks like for your brand) but on the other 2 days post something different and observe engagement to figure out what works with your audience.
  3. Ask: ‘what is the objective of this post?’ Don’t create social media posts without first asking this question. Is it to create brand awareness, give customers a glimpse behind the scenes, get a laugh or promote social change, for example? You might even choose a theme for the week, eg. ‘This week I want to talk about mindfulness’, so all posts that week can relate to this theme.
  4. Be aware that only 1–3% of your audience see your posts. Gasp. Yes, it’s true – you’re not Pink at Rod Laver Arena, sorry to say. Choose nights that make sense to post your material for your particular audience, eg. it might be Sunday nights, 8pm. Use, for example, ‘Insights’ on Facebook to get to know your audience’s peak times are and post at these times for a better chance of reaching that measly 1–3%.
  5. Post content that makes sense to the channel. Think about why people are on certain channels and post stuff that makes sense to that channel. You can post different content across different channels. For example, Facebook loves video. It will share video more than anything else, and more so if your audience watches your videos to the end, so keep them short (15-30 seconds is ideal). LinkedIn loves professional content, Instagram photos and stories – you get the point. In other words, don’t feed the cats the wrong food because they won’t eat it!
  6. Be authentic and offer value to your audience. Omg, if I hear the word ‘value’ one more time in business speak… But it does make sense to think about this for social media. People are on social media to connect, they don’t want to be sold to. Photos featuring people and getting to the core of what people care about are great ways to inspire connections with your audience.
  7. What should I be posting? While different brands will have different ways of expressing themselves, some things that work are: fun photos of the business’s culture and personality, behind the scenes stuff, ‘How to’ videos, photos from themed days or colourful festivals, staff profiles and stories, testimonials and quirky memes.

There’s far more I could say about social media, but I might save it for another blog. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt from the research though is to post LESS with a focus on quality and post when your audience is online. Oh, and don’t be afraid to experiment, try new things and change tact as many times as you need to find that winning formula.

BRG Learning and Development

Where to now? Why education can’t stay the same…

 

Education is changing. There’s no doubt about it. After some research into trends and predictions for the future, there seems to be some themes emerging about what education is going to look like and how we’ll shape this experience going forward.

Here’s what I’ve come across while researching and designing learning:

A Minimalist Approach to Education…

Not long ago, someone recommended that I watch ‘Minimalism’ on Netflix. Ordinarily, I’m usually pretty keen to watch some historical fiction with plenty of intrigue and a bit of battle action but, of course, there are times when we use television to enlighten rather than escape…

This was one of those times. 

The future of Learning: Educating people with diverse needs 

It is becoming increasingly important to consider diverse audiences when designing robust learning that will prove to be sustainable. Many of us become narrow in our thinking when we’re busting to satisfy performance criteria or some other bureaucratic overlay that has come to characterise education.

While I’m not completely disregarding the need for structure, we do need to consider that education is more than the expectations we set. We need to consider the learner in all of this. Who are our learners in a modern Australian economy? What can we do to reach as many of these learners as possible?

A Start-Up in need of a website?

Are you starting a business or selling a service and don’t know where to start when it comes to building a website? In the early days of a start-up, there are so many questions that need to be answered and I’m here to help you with one of the big ones!

I recently attended a business excellence networking event, and in one of the sessions there was a lot of discussion around where to start with a website for your business. Some people had tried multiple times to get what they needed from their website, and spent lots of money, and still weren’t happy. The reality is that in a start-up the budget generally doesn’t stretch far enough to employ a top-notch developer. But I really believe you can affordably build your own website – even if it’s just your first iteration – I mean how much is your business or service going to change over the first 12 months alone?!

10 essential skills for the future (for when robots and automation replace you)

How do we stay competitive in the job market when robots and automation start to do our jobs better and cheaper than us?
Well, we cultivate what makes us human as capital to leverage new opportunities.

How do we do that?
We take advice from the World Economic Forum about what the 10 essential skills of 2020 are and we work on them NOW.

Why?
So we can build a future applying these skills to new pathways and grow as people and professionals.

First, what does the future look like?